What are the best nutrients for the skin which are found in foods that benefit the skin directly?
- VITAMIN A--This magnificent vitamin is one of the few vitamins that causes a physical change in the skin. Vitamin A is vital for all types of cells in the skin to carry out processes such as regeneration, pigmentation, healing, elasticity, lax pores and acne.
BEST ‘A’ FOODS: Any orange coloured veggies ie, carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash and apricots. Also Kale….my fav! Non – Veg….liver and eel…both are direct Vitamin A.
- VITAMIN E – This well known vitamin works as an anti-inflammatory agent within the skin and a powerful antioxidant, which then acts as an armour against free radicals. It has huge hydrating and healing properties… What’s more to say?
BEST ‘E’ FOODS: Wheatgerm and sunflower oil, almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, kale (again!) avocado, sweet potatoes and tomatoes.
- VITAMIN D – This essential vitamin is powerful and used by our bodies in so many ways. For the skin specifically it acts as an anti-inflammatory thus great for acne, stimulates COLLAGEN (yay!),elasticity and bounce, lessens the appearance of dark spots and generally enhances radiance. Even though our body naturally produces Vit. D with the exposure to sunlight, we only need a few mins…and difficult to get in our Canadian winters. And the older we get, the more difficult it is to synthesize it.
BEST ‘D’ FOODS: eggs, tuna, mackerel, cod liver oil, salmon, soya milk, fortified orange juice, fortified milk products (holistically speaking…drink organic if possible), beef or calf liver. (NOTE: if these foods don’t excite you, take a good vitamin D Supplement).
- VITAMIN C – We all are aware of how amazing this sweet little vitamin is. It’s not only great for it’s healing and regeneration properties, it is a free radical scavenger and actively hunts them down. It is a key component in the regulation of COLLAGEN, it helps to keep the skin hydrated, and aids in the health of blood vessels therefore helps in the prevention of broken capillaries and reduces redness.
BEST ‘C’ FOODS: Red and green peppers, kale (seeing a pattern?), strawberries, kiwi, citrus fruits, tomatoes, dark leafy greens, cauliflower, pineapple, mango, brussel sprouts (see- mom knows!), herbs such as parsley, thyme and basil.
- B VITAMINS – There is a long list of B Vitamins, and they work together as a team. Why so important for the skin you ask? Well, some of us may already know ….Stress..(the bad kind), depletes our bodies of B Vitamins possibly leaving us deficient. And being a water soluble Vitamin, the body only uses what it needs at the time and well….you know what happens to the rest. Therefore we need to replenish daily. Without describing what each of the separate ‘B’s” do, I’ll sum it up for all of them. For the skin, they hydrate, regenerates COLLAGEN, heals wounds, lightens, brightens and contributes to the cellular energy of the skin (skin turnover!), anti -inflammatory, helps regulate hormones (very important!), ie, acne, and strengthens the skin. If I have to make mention to one of the “B’s” it would be B12. This deficiency plays a major role in pigmentation and is mainly found in beef, lamb or veal liver. So if you are vegetarian it is extremely important that you supplement.
BEST ‘B’ FOODS: Greens, greens, greens! Need I say more? Well actually there is more….Whole grains( no whites), beef, pork, chicken, liver, eggs, legumes, milk and dairy products, mushrooms, liver, whole grain cereal, pumpkin, tempeh, peanuts, seeds, chickpeas, salmon,avocado, sweet potato.
- ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS (EFA’s) – They’re called ‘essential’ for a reason – your body and skin need them to function. EFA’s are responsible for the regulation of the cell membrane, keeping water and nutrients in the cells while pushing the bad out of the cells. While your body is pretty good at synthesising most fats it needs, there are two that are not produced by the body,Omega 3 and Omega 6.
They help to minimize the appearance of dryness and cellulite (Omega 3) These fats are vital in proliferation of the epidermis (shedding of the dead skin) which is helpful with regeneration but also for acne as it helps with congestion. They are remarkable with symptoms of inflammatory disorders such as rosacea, eczema and psoriasis. (Omega 6).
‘EFA’ FOODS: Omega 3’s – Salmon, mackerel, spinach, soybeans, fortified eggs, mungo beans, edamame, walnuts, hazelnuts, basil, flaxseed and wheat germ. Omega 6’s – leafy veggies,corn, peanuts, whole grains, sesame seeds, safflower and sunflower oils, meat, poultry.
* A little note on water and EFA’S– All of the water your drinking…amazing, however you need EFA’s to keep it in the skin. Remember, the cells need EFA’s for the integrity of the cell walls, which will keep the water within the cells of the skin.
- BETA-GLUCAN –This is a tiny carbohydrate which helps with the structure of the cells and gives the body energy. Often found in sensitive-skin topicals, it is an antioxidant renowned for its healing properties while reducing irritation and inflammation.
BETA-GLUTAN FOODS: mushrooms of all kinds, oats, barley and algae
- ANTIOXIDANTS – These little powerful soldiers hunt down free radicals which can cause damage to cells, thus unwanted skin conditions and advanced aging. Antioxidants protect the COLLAGEN and other cells in the skin’s structure. Vitamins C,E,D, Beta-Glucan are your top antioxidants. Fruits and veggies provide these antioxidants but following is a list of the heroes:
ANTIOXIDANT HEROES: Goji berries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, tomatoes, tumeric, thyme, ginger, kidney beans, pecans and dark chocolate (YUM!).
- ZINC -Zinc is a trace mineral found in many foods and one only needs a small amount of it each day (unless pregnant and breastfeeding). It is required for the function of all cell membranes and for new cell production. Not only a major player in immune function and healing, it protects the fat in the skin. It helps to regulate the amount of oil produced in your skin, thus helpful with acne flare ups.
ZINC FOODS: meat, shellfish, poultry, nuts, seeds, legumes and wholegrains.
- PHYTONUTRIENTS -These are chemical compounds found in plants and now in many skin care products. They are powerful antioxidants, protectors of the skin from photodamage and COLLAGEN. Some of the names you may recognize are Beta-Carotene (pre-cursor to Vit. A), Flavonoids,Resveratrol, Lycopene, Lutein, and something called DIM (Diindolylmethane)—this one helps to regulate oestrogen which can be a huge benefit with hormonal acne.
PHYTONUTRIENT FOODS: Beta-Carotene -Red & orange pigmented fruits and Veg, Flavonoids – tea, red wine (yup) and apples, Lycopene and lutein- tomatoes, dark leafy greens and egg yolks. Resveratrol – peanuts, pistachios, red and white wine. DIM – Cruciferous veggies such as cauliflower, brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli and cabbage.
So as a big believer as skin health comes from within, eat your fruit & veggies (yes kale), protein, EFA’s, etc daily and your skin will thank you.