The Best Nutrients for Healthy Skin
Healthy, glowing, blemish-free skin seems to be a goal for many people, considering American’s spent $33.3 billion on cosmetics and beauty products in 2010 . But no matter how many lotions and potions you apply ON your skin, did you know that healthy skin actually starts from the inside out? Beautiful skin is a direct reflection of what is going on inside your body. The right multivitamin or nutrients in your diet can actually do more to keep your skin healthy than many expensive beauty products. An adequate intake of antioxidants, vitamin B-complex, and fish oil will help get you on the right track to beautiful skin.
Antioxidants: Vitamins C, E, A
The most important antioxidants for healthy skin are Vitamins C, E, and A. Antioxidants work against free radicals which are molecules that react with the body’s cells, causing damage. Free radicals are created by natural cell reactions, cigarette smoke, air pollution, and excessive sun exposure. Antioxidants help neutralize these free radicals, reducing their damage in our bodies and skin.
Vitamin C helps prevent damage that occurs when our skin is exposed to too much sun or pollution. Vitamin C is also used to make skin, cartilage, tendons, and ligaments, keeping many of the body’s tissues functioning correctly. When skin is damaged, the body will need additional vitamin C to help in the repair process. Vitamin C is found in strawberries, citrus fruits, and bell peppers.
Vitamin E has been shown to help reduce the effect of sun damage and assist in wound healing. Vitamin E has anti-inflammatory properties and may help decrease inflammation (skin swelling, thickness, redness) caused by sun exposure. Vitamin E is also an excellent moisturizer which can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Look for Vitamin E in nuts, olives, and spinach.
Vitamin A, meanwhile, works to maintain and repair damage skin. A vitamin A deficiency will result in flaky, dry skin. Retinoids, which are derived from vitamin A, can help promote skin turnover, keep skin looking smoother, and decrease the effects of aging. Vitamin A is especially potent in preventing certain skin cancers when combined with Vitamin E. Great sources of Vitamin A are carrots, sweet potatoes, and green, leafy vegetables.
Vitamin B Complex
Vitamin B complex is made up of 11 different vitamins that work together to help the body maintain energy, proper brain function, and boost the immune system. These vitamins are easily depleted due to stress, poor diet, or consumption of too much alcohol. B vitamin deficiency can lead to hair loss or irritation of the skin. Sufficient intake of B vitamins can help reduce acne and skin dryness. Certain B vitamins, such as biotin, make up the basis for strong hair, healthy skin, and nails. Sufficient intake of niacin can help maintain skin moisture, keeping skin smooth. Foods that contain B-vitamins are fortified breakfast cereals, eggs, and meat.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
The American diet is very high in omega 6 fats, which can be inflammatory, and too low in omega 3 fats, which are anti-inflammatory. Excessive inflammation not only leads to several chronic illnesses (from diabetes to cardiovascular disease), inflammation can also damage skin, making it look dull, thick, or dry. Omega 3s are generally found as either EPA or DHA, and each has its own function in our bodies. EPA is beneficial for skin because it helps improve hydration, prevent acne, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. EPA can even help block the damage caused by enzymes that destroy collagen, helping skin stay healthy. Omega 3 supplementation has also been linked to improvement in other chronic skin conditions like psoriasis. Omega 3s work to repair skin, improve moisture, and help skin flexibility. Salmon, walnuts, and flax are all rich sources of Omega 3s.
A well-balanced diet containing a large variety of fruits and vegetables, fatty fish, and whole grains can help get your skin on the right path to health. Choose fruits and vegetables of all colors, like tomatoes, kale, and blueberries, to help ensure you are getting a large variety of antioxidants and vitamins. Make at least half your grains whole grains for additional B-vitamins. Eat salmon or other fatty fish at least twice a week for an extra anti-inflammatory dose of omega 3. A good multivitamin can help fill in some of the gaps when our diets are less than ideal but are not a substitute for a poor diet. With a good diet and a great multivitamin, you will be on the right path to healthy and glowing skin!
Ana Johnson is Registered Dietitian, Certified Diabetes Educator, blogger, and freelance writer. Her areas of expertise in the field of nutrition are diabetes, autoimmune conditions, and bariatric surgery. Her mission in life is to use her innovative nutrition knowledge and extensive experience to help people achieve permanent wellness. She has her own blog at wholelifediets.com.