Your skin is a huge indicator of what is going on inside your body, and all skin conditions, from eczema to acne to aging, are the manifestations of what your body is needing on the inside, including nutrients.
Dry or oily skin, acne, and inflammation all are signs of poor internal health which are often brought on by consuming garbage food and avoiding skin-healthy nurtients.
While a suitable skincare routine and occasional in-clinic treatments are also an essential piece of the healthy-skin puzzle, you should be aware of the level of nourishment that’s being provided to you from within. If you have been experiencing frustrating skin issues that no product seems to fix,consider implementing the following vitamins and minerals into your daily diet, because after all, you are what you eat. I believe this whole-heartedly.
Silica is a mineral that strengthens the body’s connective tissues - muscles, tendons, hair, ligaments, nails, cartilage, and bone - and is vital for healthy skin. Silica deficiency can result in reduced skin elasticity and can impede the body’s ability to heal wounds.
Food sources of silica:
- green beans
- garbanzo beans/chick peas
The mineral zinc is an important component of healthy skin, especially for acne sufferers. In fact, acne itself may be a symptom of zinc deficiency. Zinc helps control the production of oil in the skin, and may also help control some of the hormones that contribute to acne. Zinc is also needed for proper immune system function, as well as for the maintenance of vision, taste, and smell. Zinc consumption is also strongly linked to a reduction of prostate cancer. ;-)
Foods rich in zinc:
- fresh oysters
- pumpkin seeds
Omega-3 Fatty Acids: (this one’s a biggie)
Dry, inflamed skin or skin that suffers from the frequent whiteheads or blackheads can benefit from supplementing with essential fatty-acids (EFAs), especially omega-3s. EFAs are responsible for skin repair, moisture content, and overall flexibility, but because the body cannot produce its own EFAs, they must be obtained through the diet.
The typical western diet is overabundant in omega-6 fatty acids found in baked goods and grains, and lacking in omega-3s, found in cold-water fish such as salmon and mackerel, as well as flaxseeds and safflower oil. Balancing your intake of omega-3s with omega-6s can result in smoother, more supple and younger-looking skin. EFAs are also available in supplement form (my personal go-to) - such as fish oil capsules or evening primrose oil - and are effective at treating a wide range of disorders, from depression and cancer to arthritis and heart disease.
Good sources of omega 3 oils:
- chia seeds
- flax seeds
- wild-harvested fish oils
Selenium is an antioxidant mineral responsible for tissue elasticity. It also acts to prevent cell damage by free radicals and plays a role in preventing skin cancer as it can protect the skin from UV damage.
Dietary sources of selenium:
- wheat germ
- seafood such as tuna and salmon
- brown rice
- whole-wheat bread
Brazil nuts are apparently the best source, and popping back just 3-4 Brazil nuts a day gives and adequate supply of selenium for the average adult.
Vitamins C, E and A:
Vitamin C. Ohhhhhh how I love my Vitamin C. Highly effective at reducing free radical damage, such as that caused by overexposure to the sun or pollution. Free radicals are like the pac man eaters of collagen and elastin - the fibers that support skin structure - and can cause wrinkles, laxity/sagging and other signs of premature aging. Vitamin C is especially effective at protecting the skin from overexposure to the sun when combined with vitamin E.
Foods high in vitamin C:
- red and green bell peppers
- collard greens
…and of course oranges, grapefruits and all other citrus fruits.
In terms of topical applications of vitamin C for your skin, there’s nothing on the market that even comes close to a product called Obagi Professional C Serum (15-20%) which I’ve raved about in an earlier posting. I’ve also found another AMAZING, slighly less-expensive C serum by DCL called C-scape 25.
Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant that reduces the effects of sun exposure on the skin. When it’s combined with vitamin A, vitamin E is especially effective at preventing certain skin cancers. Vitamin E, when applied topically, soothes dry or rough skin.
Food sources of vitamin E:
- wheatgerm oil
- sunflower seeds
- safflower and sunflower oils
Vitamin A promotes proper repair and maintenance of the skin, and deficiencies of it can result in a dry, flaky complexion. Topical vitamin A treatments are usually used to treat acne, poor texture, pore congestion and discoloration/sun damage.
Foods high in vitamin A
- chili peppers
- collard greens
- sweet potatoes
It’s better to consume vitamin A from food sources rather than supplementing it, as vitamin A can be harmful if taken in excessive amounts in supplement form. You could also take beta carotene, which is a precursor to vitamin A but has none of the overdose concerns of vitamin A.