There are many ways dark circles come to be, whether they’re hereditary, from aging or a prolonged lack of sleep. Whatever the reason for their appearance, having to use concealer to cover them up daily can be exhausting. While there are many great makeup products for concealing them, many people still want to know if and how their diet contributes to their formation. We reached out to nutrition experts, doctors and dermatologists about vitamin deficiencies that contribute to dark eye circles and how to insert any you’re missing into your diet.
The vitamin B complex includes eight water-soluble vitamins (collectively known as B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12). We spoke to Ronald Smith, dietician and founder of EatDrinkBinge about how a lack of vitamin B and vitamin B12 specifically can contribute to those dreaded dark eye bags. “[Vitamin B] is necessary for energy metabolism and also helps with hormone production and red blood cell formation,” says Smith. A deficiency in any of these, he adds, can cause dark circles under the eyes.
Dr. Tina Gupta, MD, and ACE certified fitness and nutrition expert also explains how disregarding vitamin B12 can impact your dark eye circles and make them appear more pronounced. “A lack of B12 causes paleness,” says Gupta. “This means that the rest of an individual’s face will appear pale except the area under the eyes. The paleness of the face will highlight the under-eye darkness even more this way.”
If you’re wondering how to add more vitamin B12 into your diet, Gupta says that it is a water soluble vitamin naturally present in foods of animal origin. She lists eggs, dairy products, poultry, meat, seafood and fish as examples. If you are a vegetarian, you can still find vitamin B12 in fortified nondairy milk, fortified cereals and fortified nutritional yeast.
“B12 may not be the only vitamin contributing to your dark circles,” says Gupta. Read on for more vitamins you shouldn’t neglect if you are struggling with dark eye circles.
Dark eye circles aren’t solely caused by a lack of vitamin B. Dermatologist Dr. Tabitha Craine, MD says that a vitamin K deficiency is a common cause for sleepy-looking under-eyes. “Vitamin K is responsible for strengthening veins and capillaries, and it also promotes healthy circulation and is essential for proper blood clotting,” Craine says.
If vitamin K levels are low, she explains, the capillaries may weaken and leak. “When this happens in the under-eye area, small amounts of blood pool and the result is dark, bruise-like discoloration,” she says. You can obtain the benefits of vitamin K by eating leafy greens such as kale and spinach, vegetables including broccoli and Brussels sprouts, and other sources like fish, liver and eggs.
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Vitamins C and E
Making sure your diet or routine includes vitamin C and E is also important. Regarding the effects of these vitamins related to dark eye circles, we spoke to Dr. Heather Smith, dual certified specialist in Internal Medicine and Critical Care and founder of bareLUXE Skincare.
“Vitamins C and E are thought to improve the quality of the collagen in your skin,” says Smith. Vitamin C offers a wide array of benefits for your skin health. Not only does consuming vitamin C prevent scurvy, but also using it within a facial serum can brighten dull skin over time.
“Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin that won’t build up in your system, so making sure you always have enough in your bloodstream is reasonable,” says Smith. “Massive supplementation doses aren’t needed, just a balanced diet and a multivitamin will do the trick.”
Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits and their juices. Vitamin E is fat soluble and found in plant-based oils, like soybean and wheat germ, sunflower seeds and nuts such as peanuts and almonds. Smith also says that the benefits of these two vitamins aren’t only found in food, but also skincare products.”Vitamin C and E might help your dark circles even more if they are used in topical preparations rather than taken internally,” she adds.
So overall, if you have a vitamin deficiency and dark eye circles, your options include consuming foods that contain the missing nutrient, taking over-the-counter supplements and using topical products. With the right vitamins, products and routine, you can diminish the darkness under your eyes over time.
Dark eye circles are common, nothing to be ashamed of, and something you can address with your doctor if you wish. Maintaining a healthy diet and consistent skincare routine is imperative to improve their appearance, and knowing concealer makeup tricks for your delicate under-eye area can help in the meantime!