You’ve likely heard the old saying, “beauty’s only skin deep”? Well, that’s true for cosmetics you may use to affect the way your face looks on a temporary basis. But, true skin beauty (and youthfulness) is a natural result of skin health and skin health is a sign of overall general health. It makes sense, then, if you want great-looking skin you have to be more concerned about your general health and what you’re putting into your body than what you put on the surface of your skin.
Sure, the right cleansers and moisturizers can help how your skin looks, but what you eat, drink, what kind of toxins (like smoking, environmental pollution,) you’re regularly exposed to, and vitamins you take, make the real difference in the appearance of your skin. With that in mind, I’d like to share some of the best skin nutrients that work from the inside out to create healthy, youthful-looking skin.
The Best Skin Nutrients A to Z
Here are some key nutrients that can help your skin assist its functions and keep you looking healthy and youthful to boot.
1. Vitamin A: This is one of your skin’s best allies. In its natural form, beta carotene, helps repair and turn-over skin cells in an ongoing cycle of regeneration. If you’re deficient in A, your skin will look dry, flaky and even have more surface lines than you’d like. Eating beta-carotene rich foods like pumpkin, carrots, spinach, yams, can all help ensure you get enough A in your diet, about 3,5000 mg a day. In addition, applying creams containing retinol (topical form of Vitamin A), can really improve the look of skin.
2. Alpha-Lipoic Acid: One of the best antioxidants because it is both fat and water soluble. It is also a powerful anti-inflammatory that can be useful in inflamed skin conditions like psoriasis, acne vulgaris, rosacea. 100 mg a day.
3. Astaxanthin: This is a pink or red-colored substance that’s found in salmon, shrimp and krill. It’s a powerful antioxidant that fights the damage of free radicals. It improves skin elasticity, age spots, and those superficial wrinkles. It is also found in many eye vitamin formulas as it also helps preserve vision.
4. Biotin: This B vitamin gives skin (and hair) its glow. Without it, skin can be dull and appear grayish. Food sources include tuna, eggs, nuts like almonds, walnuts, chicken. Check your multivitamin supplement for it as well. It should contain between 19 and 30 mcg.
5. Vitamin C: Another powerful antioxidant that fights free radical damage to your skin, C also helps create collagen in your skin that fights sagging, loose skin. As you get older, collagen breaks down especially if you are deficient in Vitamin C. Good food sources are citrus fruits, tomatoes. Supplement with 500-1,000 mg a day, especially if you don’t each much citrus fruit.
6. Vitamin E: Also an antioxidant, E helps fight photo-aging and damage from UV rays. Excellent food source are almonds, sunflower seeds, spinach, cayenne pepper, broccoli. 400 mcg a day in supplemental form can help round out deficient sources.
7. Hyaluronic acid: Like collagen, HA supports structure in skin and cushioning in joints. It decreases as you get older. Good food sources are chicken, soy beans. Minerals magnesium and zinc help create HA so if you are deficient in either of those, your HA levels will be lower. Supplement with 200 mg a day hyaluronic acid.
8. Vitamin K: Typically thought of as a blood clotting aide, vitamin K also helps get rid of under eye circles and may help get rid of superficial “spider” veins in skin. It also promotes skin elasticity and helps reduce superficial skin wrinkling. Vitamin K levels fall as you get older so supplementation may be needed. Most multivitamins do not contain K2, but individual supplements of K2 of 45 mcg a day can be purchased.
9. Lycopene: Like Vitamin E, helps protect your skin against harmful UV rays. In fact, eating lycopene rich foods before going out in the sun can help prevent sunburn. Lycopene rich foods are cooked tomatoes, tomato paste, watermelon, pink grapefruit and papaya. Supplements should provide about 30 mg a day.
10. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: These keep the skin supple and moist and reduce inflammation and boost hydration by helping to lock in moisture. Food rich sources are fatty fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, walnut oil, and walnuts. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements can also be purchased at 1,000 mg capsules, twice or even 3 times a day.
Getting older is a natural part of life but no one wants to look older. Making sure that you’re eating a nutrition-rich diet that is full of all the above skin-protecting vitamins can help ensure that your body stays healthy. As a result, your skin will thank you by giving you a beautiful, youthful face and overall skin.
Jay Brachfeld, M.D.
Natural Health News
Skin Anatomy: How Your Skin Protects You, http://seniorliving.about.com/od/healthnutrition/a/skinanatomy.html
Vegetable Food Sources, http://www.ehow.com/way_5268027_vegetable-food-sources-hyaluronic-acid.html
8 Foods Rich in Biotin, http://www.fitday.com/fitness-articles/nutrition/vitamins-minerals/8-foods-rich-in-biotin.html
Skin Benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid, http://www.livestrong.com/article/173095-skin-benefits-of-alpha-lipoic-acid/
photo credit: sivaanaspa.wordpress.com