The skin is the largest of the body’s organs. It functions as a key sensing organ, an oil producer, a detox organ, a temperature regulator, and a protective covering. The skin has to do battle constantly to stay strong and fight the damaging forces that surround it. As the barrier between the body and the environment, it is subjected to a lot of abuse, including:
1. 1. Ultraviolet rays from the sun (probably the most damaging factor the skin encounters each day)
2. 2. Tanning and other sun exposure damage
3. 3. Cleaning-product chemicals, both on clothing and in the air, which interact with the skin, drying it out and causing injury and possible allergic reactions
Your skin reflects your internal health. A healthy person has glowing. Radiant, smooth skin. Inflammation, scaling, or puffiness indicates that the body is having health problems. Many skin conditions that leave us with undesirable complexions can be alleviated with a proper diet.
What Does Food Have to Do with It?
The body is made up of more than 100 billion cells, each of which is made up of fats and proteins. Carbohydrates offer these cells energy. These three components are necessary to support your body’s basic health.
However, these nutrients alone do not make your body and skin healthy. Your body also needs vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to perform optimally and look radiant. These nutrients help the skin repair damage, build support structures, stay moist, and prevent disease. For example, collagen is the skin’s main structural component, and the body cannot make it without vitamin C. If you do not eat foods rich in vitamin C, such as oranges, lemons, and strawberries, your skin can lose its tight structure and begin to loosen, sag, and wrinkle.
Nutrients to the Rescue
There are many nutrients that the skin needs to function properly and to look radiant. See below list of the most important nutrients for the skin and describtions of their roles in promoting skin health. Note that because hair follicles live in the skin, your hair’s health is related to your skin’s health. For that reason, keeping your skin healthy can help your hair regain that smooth, shiny, soft appearance it had when you were a child.
Nutrients That Support Skin Health
Vitamin A - Fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role in preventing acne, blemishes, and dry skin; May help prevent skin cancer; Deficiency causes dry, scaly skin and an increased likelihood of infection
Vitamin B complex - Consists of all eight water-soluble B vitamins; Essential for the breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins; Involved in energy production; Deficiency can result in skin conditions such as acne and dermatitis
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) - Improves oxygen usage by skin cells; Deficiency can result in inflammation
Vitamin B3 (niacin) - Ensures that the skin receives proper blood circulation
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) - Required for cell division and protein synthesis
Biotin - Required for skin cells to rapidly divide and grow
Vitamin B12 - Used in the treatment of dermatitis
Vitamin C - Water-soluble vitamin that can prevent skin damage and reduce the aging effects of cigarette smoke and sun damage; Required for collagen formation
Calcium - Deficiency associated with eczema and brittle nails
Copper - stimulates collagen and elastin formation
Vitamin E - May help with wound healing
Essential Fatty Acids - Include omega-3 and omega-6 fats; Act as a lubricant, moisturizer, and anti-inflammatory; Reduce the severity of sun damage
Iron - Promotes oxygenation of blood, a healthy immune system, and energy production
Methionine - Plays a role in protein building, cell division, and skin repair
Potassium - Deficiency results in dry skin
Selenium - Preserves elasticity of tissue; Deficiency may lead to premature aging
Silicon/Silica - Promotes tissue firmness; Strengthens hair, skin, and nails; Maintains skin elasticity
Zinc - Helps heal wounds; Needed for cell repair and for production of DNA, RNA (protein blueprints), and enzymes