While it's probably easiest, cheapest, and best to just take a multivitamin each day (therefore getting all the vitamins and minerals you'd ever need, and then some), here's a quick overview of which minerals you need and why:
- Alpha-Lipoic Acid: This super-powerful antioxidant works much like Vitamins C and E in that it attacks free radicals and diminishes skin damage. Some even say that it can rebuild damaged skin cells. You can get alpha-lipoic acid in a supplement or find it in some products like Juice Beauty's Green Apple Peel ($39).
- Copper: When combined topically with Vitamin C, copper has been shown to improve the skin's appearance by developing elastins. Those who use creams containing copper report fewer lines and wrinkles, better elasticity, and increased firmness. Copper should not be taken in a supplement form since copper deficiencies are rare and taking too much copper internally can be dangerous. Try Neutrogena's Visibly Firm Body Lotion with Copper ($11.00).
- Essential Fatty Acids: Balancing out Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids can help heal dehydrated, inflamed, or blackhead-prone skin. Take a supplement containing both Omegas or eating poultry, flaxseed oil, or cold-water fish (like salmon) to get the proper balance.
- Selenium: In the 1990s, scientific journals reported that skin cancer patients who increased their intake of Selenium had fewer malignancies and a reduced risk of death. Scientists are still studying possible beneficial links between Selenium and cancer and a host of other conditions. Though toxic in large doses, Selenium occurs naturally in Brazil nuts, whole grain foods, seafood, garlic and eggs so deficiencies are rare. The recommended allowance of this antioxidant for adults is 55 micrograms a day.
- Zinc: I'm a firm believer that zinc helps shorten the duration of a cold. Whether I'm right or wrong is up in the air, but zinc is good for those who suffer from acne. Apparently, in some cases acne is a result of a zinc deficiency (who knew?). You can ingest zinc or apply it topically--either way it helps control the skin's oil production. Eat your zinc with lean meat, poultry, oysters, nuts, and seeds (pumpkin and sunflower). Or, apply zinc to your skin with Dr. Brandt's Poreless Essentials Kit ($55).
I'm doing my own little 30-day experiment in this field. I'm taking the recommended dosage of GNC's Hair, Nails and Skin each day and will report my findings (if any) in about a month. This is going to be tough for me since I'm an on again, off again vitamin taker. We'll see if the benefits outweigh the nuisance of taking the capsules!