Besides being responsible for the overall function of your body, essential nutrients also play a key role in keeping your skin in optimum condition. Much of what you eat is reflected on your skin. Proper nourishment and nutrition will sustain and maintain healthy skin, while improper or lack of nutrients will have the opposite effect.
Essential Nutrients & Their Impact
Different nutrients impact our skin in various ways and because the human body does not produce enough or any vitamins at all, they are usually derived from foods and various supplements. The combination of these nutrients, minerals included, provide several benefits that keep skin healthy.
1. Vitamin C
Foods high in vitamin C (ascorbic acid) sustain the body and skin with antioxidants that aid in the reduction of oxidative stress to the body. Oxidative stress causes an imbalance between the free radicals and the body’s capacity to fight their harmful effects. Vitamin C also diminishes the appearance of blemishes caused by the sun. Additionally, the ascorbic acid increases the production of collagen in the skin and is known to improve the skin’s healing capability. To increase your intake of vitamin C, include more foods such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale and bell peppers into your diet. Fruits like grapefruit, strawberries and guava are also great sources of vitamin C.
2. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is another nutrient that is praised for restoring cells affected by free radicals, which are notorious for depleting collagen and elastin in the skin. Collagen and elastin give skin its structure. Similar to vitamin C, vitamin E is also another source of antioxidant that protects the skin from free radicals and heals the skin from inside out. Apart from its amazing healing properties, vitamin E keeps skin hydrated, smooth and supple. Vegetable oils, nuts, asparagus, almonds, avocados and spinach are great sources of vitamin E.
3. Vitamin A
Crucial for maintaining and repairing the skin, vitamin A is important for producing retinol, a derivative of vitamin A (sourced mainly from animals). Retinol keeps skin healthy, clears acne and works wonders to improve the appearance of crow’s feet and wrinkles. Vitamin A helps in cell renewal and cell growth. Foods rich in vitamin A include eggs and bright orange vegetables like carrots, which are loaded with beta-carotene — your body uses beta-carotene to make vitamin A.
4. Vitamin B5
Vitamin B5 defends skin cells from the sun and pollution in the environment. The nutrient also aids in the maintenance of healthy skin. Vitamin B5 works as a moisturiser and aids in fast recovery of skin wounds. If you suffer from acne or blemishes, vitamin B5 is your best bet for tackling skin problems or to attain a smoother, clearer skin.
5. Vitamin D
Better known as the sunshine vitamin, vitamin D is freely and easily manufactured, when our skin is exposed to natural sunlight. Vitamin D promotes skin repair and rejuvenates the skin. More importantly, it has been hailed for treating eczema and psoriasis, a skin condition that leaves skin itchy and flaky. Vitamin D is chock-full of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which prevent premature aging and diminish the appearance of stretch marks, as well. Dairy products, natural sunlight (ensure safe amounts of exposure), oily fish or fish rich in fatty acids are great sources of vitamin D.
The hardworking zinc takes care of numerous functions in the body. The trace element is essential for repairing skin cells and wounds. Much like vitamin A, zinc clears acne, skin sores and minor wounds. Zinc also helps in the prevention of acne by regulating the amount of natural oil or sebum produced by the skin. As an added advantage, zinc relieves inflammation and acne scarring. Oysters, pecans, poultry, ginger and seafood are all good sources of zinc.
A trace mineral that acts as a powerful antioxidant, selenium maintains the firmness and elasticity of the skin. Like zinc, selenium prevents acne and encourages the absorption of vitamin E, which keeps skin glowing and prevents the decline of collagen in the skin. Include some tuna, liver, walnuts, brown rice and poultry in your diet to meet the required amounts of selenium for your body and skin.
8. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Here’s another reason to eat salmon. Renowned for easing inflammation, omega-3 fatty acids regulate cortisol levels in the body, keeping skin soft and youthful. The essential fatty acids directly influence the skin’s ability to heal and the overall moisture content of the skin. In addition to salmon, mackerel, sardines, flaxseeds and chia seeds are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil pills are another simple alternative you can consume to replenish your nutrient intake.
Be Good to Your Skin
Sometimes it can be a challenge to get all the nutrients and minerals your body requires. However, as a general rule of thumb, one should always reach for healthy, whole foods and limit processed foods as much as possible. If you are suffering from a vitamin or mineral deficiency, invest in some vitamin supplements to replenish your body’s nutrient and mineral requirements.