Posted on: January 18th, 2022

Nutraceuticals have always been linked to health in one way or another, with both positive and negative connections. Skin health has been a particularly interesting area of discussion and years of research have led to some conclusions.

Areas of skin health that have been consistently studied with nutraceutical consumption include acne, hair loss, and dermatitis, among others. Recent studies have added to research supporting these skin conditions and how they are affected by nutraceuticals.

Nutraceuticals & Acne

While the role of a general diet’s effects on acne remains unclear, several research studies have shown correlations between certain foods and acne.

High glycemic foods have been associated indirectly with acne symptoms in some people. Foods considered high glycemic raise serum insulin concentration, which can lead to sebocyte proliferation and sebrum production, suppressing sex hormones (SHBG) and increasing androgen concentration. A low glycemic diet, however, has not been found to reduce the severity of acne.

Milk consumption has been linked in several studies to increased insulin production and IGF-1 levels (insulin-like growth factor). IGF-1 has further been linked to suppressing SHBG. Milk is also ~20% whey protein which, due delivers a high amount of leucine, may activate mTORC (a protein complex linked to protein synthesis), which is proposed to trigger new acne lesions.

Diets high in vegetables, brown rice, and fish (among other foods) are associated with higher intake of essential fatty acids found and have shown to have a positive effect on the symptoms of acne in some people. Specifically, omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to reducing IGF-1, resulting in positive effects on acne lesions.

Nutraceuticals & Hair Loss

We normally think of hair loss occurring in men as they age,  but women can also suffer from ailments like alopecia. This means that information provided by studies on nutraceutical effects on hair loss is universally important.

Iron deficiency, specifically, has been linked to alopecia in women, especially after post-menstrual blood loss or post-delivery blood loss. While iron deficiency is a common denominator in many female alopecia cases, the exact triggers are still being researched. Some studies show hair follicle serums help reduce the effects of alopecia, while others have concluded that low ferritin levels aren’t the only issue (other scalp disorders have also come to similar non-consensus).

Another high-priority research target in relation to hair loss is biotin (B7). The principle behind biotin enhancing hair growth lies within theoretically increasing the availability of long-chain fatty acids in relation to cuticles. Unfortunately, there is still no hard evidence that biotin helps hair growth or (to a lesser extent) nail health.

Nutraceuticals & Dermatitis

Dermatitis is, simply put, skin inflammation that usually results in a rash. Eczema is a common form of dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis is the most common complaint, which is a condition that makes the skin red and itchy and is often associated with an allergy or sensitivity.

Probiotics have shown a positive correlation with decreasing pro-inflammatory effects of dermatitis in many studies. The link is thought to be the proliferation of diverse gut microflora resulting from probiotic supplementation. However, some studies have found no correlation between probiotics given at an early age (~6 months old).

Probiotic supplementation for infants is still under investigation for possible undesirable effects.  Breastfeeding has been shown to be beneficial in preventing dermatitis in children with a family history of dermatitis. Cow’s milk substitutes have been noted to show similar effects in both high- and low-risk infants.

Research at Biofortis

Biofortis is dedicated to protecting consumer health throughout the world by delivering a wide range of testing and consultancy services to the food, supplement, and nutrition industries. Biofortis supports this mission in two ways—through clinical trials and sensory and consumer insights testing. We specialize in clinical research targeting foods, ingredients, and dietary supplements that affect body structures, function, and overall health. Contact us with any clinical trial or scientific consulting needs.


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