Vitamins, Such as Vitamin K and Niacin, Can Benefit the Skin
the quest to stop the aging process and reverse the signs of sun
damage, consumers spent 5 billion dollars on cosmetics in 2001 according
to market research, 56 percent of that on skin care products alone.
While many consumers have come to rely on the numerous vitamins known
to offer specific benefits to the skin, including vitamins C, E,
and A, some additional vitamins have recently shown promising results
for the treatment of problem areas, as well as the overall care and
maintenance of the skin.
During the American Academy of Dermatology's 2003 Annual Meeting
in San Francisco, dermatologist Leslie Baumann, MD, spoke about
the skin care benefits provided by two recently studied vitamins:
vitamin K and niacin, also known as vitamin B-3.
"Vitamins continue to be recognized as playing an important
role in the health of the body, including the skin," said
Dr. Baumann, Assistant Professor, Department of Dermatology and
Cutaneous Surgery at the University of Miami School of Medicine,
Miami, Fla. "New studies have shown that vitamin K and niacin
are beneficial to the skin, specifically for problems involving
pigmentation and dry skin."
Vitamin K Treatments for Dark Circles Under Eyes and Bruising
Vitamin K plays an important role in blood clotting and studies
have shown it to maintain strong bones in the elderly. However,
dermatologists have recently found vitamin K to be successful for
the treatment for dark circles under the eyes and bruising on the
Dark circles may be hereditary for some people or simply a part
of the aging process, but most people would agree that they are
a struggle to conceal. When the fat pad beneath the eye begins
to thin with age, it can create a sunken look to the under eye
area. Studies have shown that sluggishness of blood flow underneath
the eyes may also contribute to dark circles. Vitamin K has been
found to diminish the appearance of these dark circles.
A recent study published in Cosmetic and Toiletries, included
two groups, one that applied an under eye cream containing sunscreen
and another that applied an under eye cream containing a combination
of vitamin K and retinol. An examination of the under eye color
at the beginning of the study and at the end found a significant
lightening in the group using the vitamin K and retinol combination.
"Whether dark circles under the eyes are a result of aging,
genetics or sun damage, vitamin K has been shown to reduce the
puffiness and discoloration associated with this oftentimes troubling
problem," said Dr. Baumann. "If patients feel that concealers
for the under eye area are no longer covering their circles, they
should look for under eye skin treatments that contain vitamin
K or a combination of vitamin K plus retinol which has been shown
to boost collagen production in the skin."
Vitamin K has also recently been studied for its effects on reducing
bruising following certain dermatologic procedures. In a recent
study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology,
patients underwent laser treatments to lessen the appearance of
spider veins on the face. Since the laser treatment may cause bruising,
half the patients applied topical vitamin K to half their faces
for two weeks before laser treatment and a placebo cream to the
other half of their face. The remaining patients applied the vitamin
K to one half of the face and the placebo to the other half, after
treatment. While the application of topical vitamin K before the
procedure did not seem to affect the severity of bruising, those
patients who applied the vitamin K after the procedure noticed
a significant reduction in the severity of bruising.
"Topical vitamin K can profoundly reduce the amount of time
some patients heal," said Dr. Baumann. "This is especially
important for those who are uncomfortable with the often short-term
bruising that can be visible following laser treatments."
Niacin and Anti-Aging
A topical vitamin that shows promise as an over-the-counter ingredient
in anti-aging products is niacin -- one component of the B vitamin
complex which has many derivatives.
Nicotinamide Treatments for Epidermis Skin Moisturizing
One derivative of niacin, nicotinamide, has been shown to improve
the ability of the epidermis, the upper-most layer of the skin,
to retain moisture. In a recent study, topical nicotinamide was
applied to the skin for six days. Following the study, all patients
reported softer, smoother skin, less dryness and flakiness, and
a reduction of fine lines.
"The benefits to the skin after application of nicotinamide
can be useful for patients with atopic dermatitis, who often experience
dry, irritated skin when the disease flares," suggested Dr.
Baumann. "This could also become another promising treatment
for aging skin which oftentimes becomes dry and flaky as we age."
Niacinamide Treatments for Lightening Skin and Acne
Niacinamide, another derivative, has also been shown to be an effective
skin lightening agent, especially for skin conditions where hyperpigmention
may occur on the face or other visible parts of the body. Patients
with hyperpigmentation applied a moisturizer containing five
percent niacinamide. After four weeks, the hyperpigmentation
and skin color were analyzed by computer and most patients experienced
decreased hyperpigmentation and increased skin lightness.
Topical niacinamide has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory
properties, which makes it a potential treatment for acne, rosacea
and any blistering-type disease. Recent studies also noted that
niacin and its derivatives have chemopreventative effects. When
applied to mouse skin, topical nicotinamide produced a 70 percent
decrease in ultraviolet-induced skin cancer.
"Vitamins can provide many benefits to the skin, yet with
so many different vitamins and different derivatives, consumers
may be confused about what ingredients to look for and what products
to select," said Dr. Baumann. "The best way to find answers
about selecting the best products for a specific skin type or correcting
a problem area is to see your dermatologist who can provide the
Source: American Academy of Dermatology
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