Vitamin D improved the immune response in those with eczema, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids helped heal skin irritation and astaxanthin protected skin from damaging ultraviolet (UVA) rays, in three studies.
Eczema inflames the skin, making it more vulnerable to infection and is a sign that the immune system is not working properly. Doctors in this study wanted to see if vitamin D would trigger the infection-fighting process in the skin and recruited 14 participants with moderate to severe eczema and 14 participants with normal skin. Everyone took 4,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day. After three weeks, those with eczema had more than six times the amount of an infection-fighting protein (cathelicidin) compared to the start of the study and those with normal skin had nearly double.
Damaged skin cells can become inflamed and allow cell moisture to escape. Doctors thought that omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids could help heal damaged skin cell membranes and recruited 45 healthy, non-smoking women, aged 18 to 65, to take 2.2 grams of flaxseed oil, borage oil or a placebo per day. At the start of the study, researchers irritated an area of the skin by applying a form of niacin (nicotinate). By the end of six weeks, both the flaxseed and borage groups retained 11 percent more moisture and by 12 weeks, the flaxseed group retained 33 percent more moisture. After 12 weeks, the flaxseed group had 45 percent less skin redness, the borage group had 35 percent less and there was no change for placebo. The flaxseed and borage groups also both had less roughness and scaling while the placebo group did not improve.
In a lab study, researchers exposed skin cells to moderate UVA light after treating half the cells with the antioxidant astaxanthin 24 hours prior. The astaxanthin-treated cells had healthier membranes, more antioxidant activity and survived in greater numbers than untreated cells. Astaxanthin is a carotenoid, a colorful pigment found in fish such as salmon and shrimp.