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Can You Heal Damaged Skin With This Supplement?

I've talked at some length about healing a damaged moisture barrier here and here.

We know it's possible to heal your skin with a proper skin care routine.

But is it possible to heal your skin ... with a supplement?

Ceramides are something that I talked about in my previous discussions regarding ingredients to look for when buying products to heal your skin. Ceramides play a central role in preserving healthy-looking skin. They are an important lipid component of the skin’s membrane, where they provide protection from the elements and lock in moisture.

Unfortunately, your body’s production of ceramides declines with age, and ceramides make up some 35-40% of the binding matrix that maintains the moisture balance and protects the surface of your skin. Yikes, we definitely don't want to be losing that. The beneficial properties of ceramides are not just limited to skin cells, either; they're found throughout the body where they support healthy cell proliferation, function and development.

The link between skin disorders and changes in barrier lipid composition, especially in ceramides, is difficult to prove because of the many variables involved, however, patients with skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, contact dermatitis, and some genetic disorders almost unanimously have diminished skin barrier function. Lipid composition in diseased skin is also characterized by decreased levels of ceramide and altered ceramide profiles. Formulations containing lipids identical to those in skin and, in particular, some ceramide supplementation, could therefore improve disturbed skin conditions. Since some studies have found that decreased ceramide level is a major etiologic factor in skin diseases, skin lipid supplementation provides opportunities for controlling ceramide deficiency and improving skin condition.

Since ceramides tend to mostly benefit the skin, it seems logical that they be applied topically. However, recent research suggests that taking ceramides orally may be more effective. Unfortunately, topical ceramides do not have a long-term impact on your skin’s appearance. And although ceramides are present in many of the foods we eat (like wheat and rice), the problem is that we often cannot get sufficient quantities to properly rejuvenate damaged skin. Unlike topical ceramides that may only have limited efficacy, oral ceramides are absorbed into the skin from within.

In trials, participants taking oral ceramides experienced complete rehydration of stubbornly dry, flaky skin, with total elimination of itching and cracking!

In 2005 a double-blind placebo-controlled study was carried out to evaluate the effects of 6 weeks of treatment with oral ceramide supplements in 33 patients (6 men and 27 women) suffering from chronically dry, rough skin. The test supplement was given in the form of soft capsules containing 40 mg per day of a rice–derived lipid matrix containing ceramides. Study investigators concluded that:

Experiments have shown that after oral administration plant-based ceramides are absorbed unchanged in the small intestine…. The substance is then transported by the capillaries into the horny layer and the keratin intercellular spaces. The supplements containing rice ceramides as used in this study, in contrast to the ceramide substances distributed in animal brains, provide superior supplementation that can be expected to be both safe and effective for oral administration. ”

Another study found that after 3 months' treatment, a significant increase in skin hydration and an improvement in associated clinical signs were observed in women with dry skin.

Of course, more research is still needed to establish a firm cause and effect relationship. However, these preliminary results are promising, and may be something you wish to look into in your quest to heal your damaged skin.

So, these supplements may be perfect for any of you struggling with damaged skin (skin that is dry, irritated, rough, flaky, itchy, products sting when you put them on), with a secondary issue being acne. Sometimes we treat our acne without realizing it is actually caused by a primary issue, such as damaged skin. In this case, healing the damaged skin will be the stepping stone to clear skin!

I temporarily was taking supplemental ceramides for about 3 months, and I loved them! Since I started taking them, my dry/oily combo and easily irritated skin became much more consistent, less irritated, and it has helped immensely in repairing my skin. I have been off the supplements for several months now, with no apparent changes/declines in the health of my skin! My skin is still supple, healthy, and finally what I feel I can call "normal".

The good thing about these ceramides is, you only have to take them as long as you feel necessary. The results are long-lasting, and once your skin is "repaired" it shouldn't require a major overhaul unless it again becomes damaged, so this isn't a long-term treatment (6 months, maximum). Keep in mind that if you're still using damaging, drying skin care products, your skin will not get better - anything the ceramides do, the poorly formulated products will simply undo. Make sure to re-evaluate your skin care routine to ensure it makes your skin feel clean, nourished and healthy - not overly clean, dry and unhealthy.

The good news is that wheat phytoceramides are almost identical to those the skin naturally produces to retain its youthful appearance, so there's no need to use bovine ceramides and kill animals for beauty. Win, win!

Try these Deva Skin Ceramides. Or these Life Extension Skin Restoring Phytoceramides Lipowheat (the ones I use). Whichever flirts your fancy, both are great!

Keep in mind that it takes about 4 weeks for newly formed skin cells to migrate to the stratum corneum, so be patient with your results!

It's of course still very true that the topical application of ceramide-based skin care products can help moisturize and repair skin, as well as reduce fine lines and wrinkles, not to mention there's much more research available on topical application; so I think it is still useful to seek products out like the ones mentioned here.

The bottom line is that oral supplementation with ceramides works from the inside out, delivering ceramides to the stratum corneum via the bloodstream for longer-lasting moisture retention. If you're struggling to repair your damaged (dry, flaky, itchy, red, irritated, sensitive) skin, you may want to give these a try.

Due to the sensitive nature of supplementation, it is always recommended that you consult a doctor prior to taking any new supplements. It is not recommended to take these if you are pregnant or nursing.


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