Skincare From Within
Healthy, beautiful skin starts with nourishment from within. The epidermis, the skin’s top layer, is shed and regenerated every month – a steady supply of key nutrients is essential to the deeper skin layers which support this rapid renewal. Many essential vitamins and minerals have large, water-soluble molecules which will not reach beneath the epidermis barrier when applied topically. So treat your skin well by eating a balanced whole-food diet which includes healthy fats and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables. Here is a short list of nutritional building blocks crucial for healthy, stress-free skin.
Healthy unsaturated fats and fatty acids, especially omega-3 fatty acids, support healthy cell membranes, which act both as a protective barrier and a passageway in and out of cells for nutrients and waste. In particular, healthy cell walls are key to the cells’ ability to hold water and keep skin moisturized. While fatty acids are abundant in seafood, they are also easily acquired from a plant-based diet.
Where to find it: avocados, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, chia seeds, rapeseed oil
Vitamin A, E, and C all are anti-inflammatories and antioxidants which can protect skin from free-radical damage and help it heal. In particular, they can help repair damage from UV exposure.
Vitamin A plays a major role in the maintenance of all organs – including skin – by supporting cell growth and differentiation. It can improve skin tone by stimulating the production of collagen and the renewal of blood vessels. Vitamin A acquired from diet might not alleviate acne as fast as retinol creams but it avoids possible inflammation issues from sun exposure when using topical retinoids.
Vitamin A is available from plants as carotenoids which the body converts into vitamin A. Those include beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin – other carotenoids found in food, such as lycopene or lutein, are not converted into vitamin A but are themselves antioxidants.
Where to find it: carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, red bell peppers and green tomatoes
Vitamin C is required for the biosynthesis of collagen but cannot be synthesized by humans and must be supplied from external sources. Vitamin C comes naturally from food as L-ascorbic acid – its most effective form, preferred over other forms sometimes found in topical products, such as magnesium ascorbyl phosphate or ascorbyl palmitate. Vitamin C absorbed from food also benefits from numerous micronutrients (vitamins and minerals), dietary fiber, and phytochemicals (e.g. bioflavonoids) which enhance its bioavailability.
Where to find it: citrus, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach & many others including pomegranates, red or yellow bell peppers, blueberries, guava, kiwi, papaya…
While vitamin E is widely found in skincare (as alpha-tocopherol) for its ability to moisturize and repair sun damage, its efficacy when applied topically may quickly be reduced by sun exposure unlike vitamin E acquired through diet. Vitamin E has also been shown to enhance the effectiveness of vitamin C.
Where to find it: almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, broccoli, spinach – nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils are rich food sources of alpha-tocopherol, along with green leafy vegetables.
Zinc, copper, and selenium are important mineral antioxidants, protecting skin from UV light-induced damage. Zinc also helps keep cell walls stable, promotes cell regeneration and healing, and supports the normal functioning of sebaceous glands, while copper is known to stimulate collagen generation.
Where to find it: walnuts (zinc), Brazil nuts (selenium), wholegrains, sunflower seeds, broccoli
A whole food diet provides the essentials for skin wellness along with a broad array of other micronutrients. But loading up on one nutrient alone will not clear a path to great, resilient, healthy skin and diversity is key.
Avocados, carrots, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, sweet potatoes, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, spinach, tomatoes, berries together will provide the nutrients your skin needs, but look beyond old reliables! Check out pomegranate seeds for instance… They are loaded with fiber, protein, Vitamin C, folate and potassium and pack polyphenol antioxidants and fatty acids.