Supplements as skincare: New to supplements? Here are the basics you need to know about your daily dose of wellness

June 10, 2022

Remember to consult a medical professional before starting any supplement regimen, if you have any questions!  

If you feel like the obsession with supplements has reached new heights, you’re not alone. New innovations in the form of pills, powders, gummies and more promise upgrades to your hair, skin and overall health—but what’s the actual deal with these things? Should you take supplements with food? Why does your vitamin contain 3,333 micrograms of vitamin B? What are the best supplements for skin health? We asked three experts to shed light on the hot commodity of supplements.  

What are supplements (and what are they not)?

“Dietary supplements are capsules, liquids or tablets intended to supplement the diet,” says Liana Werner-Grey, a nutritionist, bestselling author of The Earth Diet. “They are not medicines and are not intended to treat or diagnose, but to add extra doses of nutrients that may not otherwise be in someone’s regular diet.” 

How do I know if I need a dietary supplement?

Anything from poor sleep to itchy skin can hint at a nutrient deficiency. According to Dr. Sheldon Zablow, author and nutritional psychiatrist, “Many prescribed medications like birth control, hormone replacements or acid reflux medications block B12 and folate from being utilized. When there is not enough of these natural vitamin forms, things like exercise, sleep, other vitamins and medications for improving mental and physical health will be inadequate.” But it’s important to remember that because the tell-tale signs of a nutrient deficiency are different for everyone, a true diagnosis must come from a doctor-recommended blood test.  

What’s the ideal dosage of a dietary supplement?

“Proper dosing for each nutrient depends on the individual,” says Harland Adkins, a registered dietitian nutritionist. “Some people need more of one thing and less of another depending on who they are, their diet, symptoms and other factors. A personalized approach is very important.”  

Why are some vitamin percentages so high? 

“Because most vitamins are not fully absorbed, extra amounts are added to the supplements,” Dr. Zablow says. “For example, some multivitamins use synthetic versions of B vitamins, which can be poorly made, and thus poorly absorbed and metabolized.” While we’ve come a long way on knowing how much of each vitamin is needed daily, Dr. Zablow says much work needs to be done on how to get a consistent and proper amount of each vitamin into our bloodstream to optimize use. 

Does taking supplements with food ensure better absorption? 

Werner-Grey says, “There are ways to ensure best absorption as some dietary supplements should be taken with food, while others you may need to take on an empty stomach. Fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K should ideally be taken with a meal containing fat from, for example, avocado or wild salmon to aid absorption.” And of course be sure to follow the usage directions on your supplement bottles.  

What are some tips before starting a supplement regimen? 

Whether you’re looking to improve skin concerns or just maintain overall health, always be sure to speak with your doctor if you have any questions. Adkins says, “Find out if the product you’re thinking of purchasing is appropriate and safe for you. For example, ask whether it might interact with any other medications you’re taking.” Here are a few additional points to keep in mind before starting any supplement regimen:

  • Consider getting a blood test: Some supplements are intended to just provide a healthy boost of nutrients, but if you have specific symptoms, such as extra itchy skin, or are concerned about a particular nutrient deficiency, a blood test can help you target and determine the best supplement with the most helpful dosage. 
  • Read the label: Adkins says, “Always take your supplement according to the directions on the label.” Your supplement bottle should tell you the recommended dosage, as well as the best time of day to take it, and whether you should take the supplement with food, water or on an empty stomach.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Murad, and are for informational purposes only, even if the advice of physicians and medical practitioners are included. This article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, and should not be considered specific medical advice. 

More about supplements as skincare here:   

Are wellness supplements pseudo-science or powerful pills? 2 dietitians dose out facts vs. fictions
5 surefire ways to make taking wellness supplements a habit
Murad just launched skincare supplements, and we’ve got answers to all your FAQs
Why you should upgrade your existing skincare supplements regimen

About the Author

More by this author
Jacki Marzano is SoCal-based storyteller and head copywriter at Murad Skincare. She's shaped the voice of some of the most recognized beauty brands in the business, has a penchant for sharing homemade cookies, and believes SPF is the secret to getting carded well into your 40s.