Boost key nutrients for youthful skin

Nutrition for Healthy Skin

By Simin Levinson MS, R.D. at Athletes Performance 

Vitamins, minerals, and key nutrients can give your skin the youthful glow of good health and prevent sun damage that can lead to skin cancer.

Many types of cancer including melanoma can be linked to diet deficiencies.  By boosting your immune system through a healthy diet and nutritional supplements you can help prevent and fight the damaging effects of skin cancer.

The power of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients give skin a healthier, more radiant and youthful glow from the inside out. A healthy diet and nutritional supplementation provide your body with antioxidants, which play an integral role in a healthy complexion. Your body benefits from feeding your skin from the inside and out with optimal nutrition habits. Research demonstrates the power of antioxidants for general health, and certain nutrients in particular can make an important difference in the way your skin looks, feels and how well it ages.

So which nutrients do you need to keep your skin healthy and looking its best? The following vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, nourish your skin, keeping it healthy and strong, allowing you to fight the damaging effects of sun exposure.

Among the most important new dermatologic discoveries is the power of these vitamins to counter the effects of sun exposure.

The Journal of Investigative Dermatology reported in February 2005 that people who take vitamins C and E in the long term reduced their sunburns from exposure to UVB radiation. Further, researchers saw a reduction of factors linked to DNA damage within skin cells, leading them to conclude that antioxidant vitamins help protect against DNA damage.

Vitamin C and E help by reducing the damage caused by free radicals, a harmful byproduct of sunlight, smoke, and pollution. Free radicals gobble up collagen and elastin, the fibers that support skin structure, causing wrinkles and other signs of aging. When these two vitamins are combined, they can be highly protective against sun damage, says the American Academy of Dermatology.

This doesn’t mean you can gobble vitamins or lather on lotion, then bake safely in the sun. The link between tanning and skin cancer is indisputable and dangerous.  But you may be able to help your skin stay healthier and supple by making sure you get enough of these antioxidant vitamins.

Vitamin C can prevent the consequences of prolonged sun exposure, which can lead to skin cancer.  To make sure your diet includes plenty of vitamin C, eat citrus fruits and vegetables rich in vitamin C such as bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, and leafy greens. These foods can replace the loss of the vitamin through the skin. You may also take vitamin C supplements.

Vitamin E is found in vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, olives, spinach, and asparagus.  Vitamin E can soothe dry, rough skin. Supplementation with natural Vitamin E in 400 mg per day has been noted to reduce photo damage, wrinkles and improve skin texture.

Vitamin A is necessary for the maintenance and repair of skin tissue. Without it, you’ll notice the difference. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamin A.  Topical vitamin A is the form that makes a real difference in your skin. Medical studies show a reduction in lines and wrinkles, good acne control, and some psoriasis relief, all from using creams containing this nutrient. Researchers from France recently showed that topically applied retinol plus vitamin C demonstrated a “reversal of skin alterations induced by chronologic aging and photo aging.”

Selenium — A number of scientists believe this mineral plays a key role in skin cancer prevention.  If you do spend any time in the sun, selenium could help reduce your chance of burning. The best dietary sources of selenium include whole-grain cereals, seafood, garlic, and eggs. In studies in The Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers showed that skin cancer patients who consumed 200 micrograms of selenium per day had: 37% fewer malignancies; 50% reduced risk of death from skin cancer; 17% decrease in overall mortality.

A powerful antioxidant, alpha-lipoic acid may turn out to be a super boost for aging skin.  Alpha-lipoic acid helps neutralize skin cell damage caused by free radicals, much like vitamins C and E do. Researchers have found that alpha-lipoic acid protects proteins against damage by free radicals.  It also helps other vitamins work more effectively to rebuild skin cells damaged by environmental assaults, such as smoke and pollution.

When it comes to skin, the single most important B vitamin is biotin, a nutrient that forms the basis of skin, nail, and hair cells.  Most people get enough biotin without even trying. It’s found in many foods including bananas, eggs, oatmeal, and rice, plus your body also makes some biotin on its own.  A diet rich in B vitamins help give skin a healthy glow while hydrating cells and increasing overall tone.

Niacin, a specific B vitamin, helps skin retain moisture, helping your complexion look fuller and younger.  Niacin also has anti-inflammatory properties to soothe dry, irritated skin.

Skin Nutrition:  the bottom line. Most people can get all the nutrients their skin needs from a healthy diet and proper supplementation.  The best approach is to drink plenty of water, eat a balanced diet, and always wear sunscreen.

From Dr Bordinko: If you are wondering about your nutritional status and if there is testing that can help you decide if your daily dietary choices are good enough, there is a solution. Spectracell labs has spent the last decade developing a blood test that can determine your major deficiencies in categories such as vitamins, antioxidants , mineral and amino acids. These not only effect your skin health, but also the health of every cell in your body. Ask you functional medicine doctor about how you can test for these levels before you spend countless dollars on supplements that are not tailored to the personal complexities of your body.