Dear Pharmacist: Skin reveals much about health

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Your skin reveals a secret about your health. It will expose you, even if you say you’re feeling OK to everyone. I’m not referring to a tan, I’m referring to skin tone, texture and color.

If you are pale, you may be anemic and deficient in iron. It shows up on your skin even if you mask the accompanying fatigue with NoDoz or coffee. Pale skin that is also dry may be a clue to your hypothyroidism, which also causes fatigue and hair loss.

Healthy folks have a good supply of blood flow and oxygen throughout their body, so skin appears rosy and pink, as opposed to people with heart disease, high cholesterol or circulatory disorder.

People with cancer sometimes have grey or blue-tinged skin or lips due to the lack of oxygenated blood.

Asthma requires the use of steroids (for example, prednisone) which can cause easy bruising; this problem also occurs from aspirin, ginkgo, fish oil and prescription anticoagulants to prevent a stroke or heart attack.

If you are alcohol or nicotine-dependent, you will look older than you should, and have saggy skin because these lifestyle factors attack your collagen and elastin. Drinking and smoking age you inside and out.

Sun worshippers and smokers often have age spots and an uneven skin tone, which is from the ultraviolet light. But this oxidation isn’t happening on your skin surface, it’s also happening to every single organ of your body, including your brain, heart, blood vessels and reproductive organs.

People who suddenly take on a yellow tone may have liver compromise from a drug they’re taking, or from alcohol use. If severe, it’s called jaundice and requires medical attention.

Perhaps you think beauty is only skin deep, but as I’ve shown you, it clearly isn’t. It is a reflection of your body’s general physical health. Radiant youthful-looking skin, hair and nails is actually an inside job.

Reducing your exposure to free radicals can help you obtain gorgeous skin, but of course you need to make sure that you eat right and drink enough water to nourish your body. You’ll also want to minimize the amount of synthetic chemicals (including prescriptions) that you take.

There are a only a handful of supplements that I recommend to help with cell protection, collagen formation and general good health. Among the best we have are biotin, collagen (but only high quality), silica, hyaluronic acid and/or lipoic acid. What you’re going for is a healthy glow to your skin, which, at the end of day, translates to a healthy body. I have a more comprehensive version of this article available at my website. To receive it, sign up for my free newsletter at suzycohen.com and I will email it.

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