Our skin requires a good balance of nutrients to perform its main functions well: protecting our bodies from the rough environment we face. To keep our skin looking, working and feeling good, we need to look after it well, from both inside and outside.
We discuss the 7 nutrients which are important in keeping our skin healthy.
1. Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are essential for maintaining the ‘glow’ in our skin. Too little fat in our diet and make our complexions look wrinkled and dull.
Essential fatty acids are fat that our bodies cannot produce and the only way we can get these are from a balanced diet. Omega-3 fatty acids work to nourish our skin and are important in maintaining the radiance and softness of our complexions.
Omega-6 fatty acids on the other hand are the building blocks of cell membranes which help us maintain healthy and hydrated skin and prevent skin dryness.
Focus on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from plant sources such as nuts, seeds, avocados and from fatty fish. These help our skin stay moist, firm and supple.
Dietary protein is broken down by our digestive systems into building blocks called amino acids. These are then reused in our bodies to make proteins such as keratin, collagen, elastin that forms the structures of our skin. They also help slough off old skin.
Certain amino acids also act in our bodies as antioxidants that protect our skin from ultraviolet (UV) rays as well as free radicals caused by exposure to certain foods, medications or even alcohol and cigarette smoke.
3. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is one of the most important vitamins when it comes to our skin. Both the upper epidermal and lower dermal layers of skin need vitamin A. It prevents sun damage by interrupting the process that breaks down collagen. It is also an antioxidant and gives your skin some protection. It also helps the functions of oil glands around our hair follicles work and may help cuts and scrapes heal. Skin, deficient of vitamin A may get itchy, bumpy and dry.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is one of the essential compounds that helps collagen hold its shape. It is also a powerful antioxidant that protects us from free radicals and lowers our risks of getting skin cancer. Insufficient intake of vitamin C can lead to easy bruising, bleeding gums and even slow healing wounds.
5. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is an antioxidant as well as an anti-inflammatory. To top that off, it can also absorb energy from UV rays which damages skin and can lead to wrinkles, sagging and increase the risks of skin cancer. It also works in tandem with vitamin C to strengthen cell walls.
The outer epidermal layer of our skin has five times more zinc than the dermal layer, and for important reasons. Zinc helps our skin heal after an injury. It also plays an important role in the lifespan of cells, in keeping the cell walls stable and in the process of cell division and differentiation. Zinc also protects the skin from UV harm and acts as an antioxidant. When we lack zinc, our skin can look like eczema but the itchy rash will not get better despite moisturisers and steroid creams.
This is an essential mineral that helps some antioxidants in their role protecting our skin from UV. Deficiency of this mineral has been linked to an increased risk of skin cancer.
These essential beauty nutrients can mostly be obtained from a balanced diet. Some foods that pack more of one of these goodness as a “many-in-one” include:
– Fatty fish (salmon, tuna, sardines): protein, omega-3, selenium
– Eggs: protein, vitamins A and E, selenium, zinc
– Leafy dark greens (kale, spinach): vitamins A, C, E; omega-3, protein, selenium (in spinach)
– Legumes (lentils, chickpeas): protein, zinc
– Avocados: healthy fats, vitamin C and E
– Extra virgin olive oil: healthy fats, vitamin E
Adjusting your diet to include some of these into your daily foods can help improve and brighten up your complexion while making sure the largest organ in your body stays healthy!
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