Diabetes and Skin Care: Nutrition (Part 2)

This week, we finish up our series on diabetes and skin care. Last week (in "Diabetes and Skin Care: Nutrition [Part 1]") we looked at some of the various nutrients that play a role in keeping your skin healthy, glowing, and smooth. Vitamins A, C, and E are the "heavy hitters" of the skin vitamins, since they also act as antioxidants, but there are other nutrients that may be just as important.


Vitamin B complex. B vitamins play a big role in the body’s conversion of food into energy. Biotin (also known as vitamin H) is the B vitamin that’s most closely linked to skin health; in fact, this vitamin is a key component of skin, hair, and nails. Although biotin deficiency is pretty rare, even a mild deficiency can cause dermatitis (skin inflammation) and hair loss. (Interestingly, there’s some research that indicates that people with Type 2 diabetes may have lower blood levels of biotin; fasting blood glucose levels improve in some people when given biotin supplements). Food sources of biotin include egg yolks, liver, bananas, oatmeal, and rice. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for biotin is 300 micrograms.

Adding vitamins to beauty products is big business. In fact, vitamins B3 (niacin) and B5 (pantothenic acid) are added to some creams because they help hold in moisture. B3 may also have some anti-inflammatory properties, working to soothe irritated skin, along with a mild bleaching ability to help with uneven skin tones.

Vitamin K. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin (unlike the B vitamins and vitamin C, which are water soluble) that’s needed for blood clotting and bone health. Studies also show that topical vitamin K can help reduce dark circles commonly seen under the eyes. Still other studies point to a link between vitamin K and a condition called pseudoxanthoma elasticum, which results in severe wrinkling of the skin over the entire body. People with this condition may have a problem metabolizing vitamin K. These findings will hopefully prompt researchers to study the effects of vitamin K on “regular” wrinkles that people develop over time (perhaps vitamin K is the new fountain of youth!). In the body, bacteria that hang out in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract make vitamin K; food sources of this vitamin include cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, cereals, and soybeans. The recommended intake for vitamin K is 120 micrograms per day for men and 90 micrograms per day for women.

Copper. Copper is involved in many enzymatic reactions in the body. It’s also needed to form connective tissue. Copper deficiency is rare, and it’s not advised to take supplements. However, copper can be used topically in the form of creams. A study at the University of Pennsylvania showed that use of a cream containing copper improved skin texture, wrinkles, and fine lines compared to a “regular” cream and to a placebo. Another study showed that copper improved skin elasticity and thickness. The RDA for copper for adults is 900 micrograms per day.

Zinc. Zinc is well-established as a mineral needed for healthy skin. Zinc is necessary for collagen formation and plays a key role in wound healing. Its other functions related to the skin include treating acne, dermatitis herpetiformis (an itchy rash), contact dermatitis, and dandruff. Zinc is also found in some sunscreens to help block damaging UV light. Zinc is found in meat, poultry, beans, nuts, whole grains, and dairy foods. The RDA is 11 milligrams for men and 8 milligrams for women.

Other nutrients. Vitamins and minerals share the stage with other nutrients when it comes to skin care. For example, omega-3 fatty acids may help protect the skin against UV light, and they’ve also been used successfully to treat psoriasis and acne. Hyaluronic acid, a substance found in connective tissue that helps to cushion and lubricate, is a popular ingredient in skin care products aimed at preventing wrinkles. And we’ll likely see many more nutrients added in the future. Buyer beware—none of these products can reverse the effects of poor diet, lack of exercise, and smoking, so the message of eating well and taking care of yourself is still holds for healthy, glowing skin.

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  • Ephrenia

    I actually take two multivitamins per day, under Dr.s orders. I had a minor leg wound that just would not heal. I started taking 2 multis and it finally healed. She did a blood test and then added 1200mg valcium on top of the 2 multis. I consume a lot of milk products, I eat my veggies and fruits. Even so, I need a boost.

    I have a friend that never passes a banana she doesn’t eat (I mean 3-4 a day) and she tested with low potassium.

    Sometimes we just can’t get what we need from food and need a supplement. It is better to be tested by your doctor to see what you are low on than to randomly take large doses of vitamins, tho. Remember, too, the vitamin industry does not have the standards of the drug industry…. all brands are not created equal!

  • moroark28

    Some how the Nutrition Part 1 got by me. Is there any way I can receive it?

  • acampbell


    You should be able to go into the blog archives at the top left of your screen (Go to Blog Archives)and read Part 1.

  • loganwc

    My Mother suffered from diabetes for more than 30 years. The skin on her legs was like tree bark, itchy and dry, very uncomfortable for her. We consulted many doctors looking for some relief and were always told that this is a symptom of diabetes, that her circulation was bad and about the only treatment is compression stockings, steroid salve and perhaps Vaseline right after a bath while the skin was still wet and then wrapping in gauze. We tried all of these treatments and nothing really seemed to help.
    We were introduced to P.O.L. and my mother started using it religiously. The skin on her legs not only healed, it was soft and itch freewithin a few weeks. Her skin had not looked like this for years. My motherhad beautiful legs and she was very proud of themand loved to showthem off and at 86 years old her legs were beautiful again. I only wish weknew about P.O.L. sooner so Mom wouldn’t have had to suffer for years with the terrible itching and dryness and distress that it caused.. It’s hard to find, I found it on the internet at Cooperlabs.com.

    Ina – Lakewood, CO

  • acampbell

    Hi Ina,

    I have to admit that I wasn’t familiar with P.O.L., and others likely are not, either. I looked on Cooper Labs’s website and P.O.L. stands for “Pure Omental Lipids”. Omental lipids are a type of mammalian fatty tissue. Glad to hear that this helped your mother’s skin heal! Thanks for sharing this.