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Who doesn’t want to achieve gorgeously glowing skin that’s smooth, well-hydrated, and firm? Unfortunately, it’s hard to maintain, as many different factors can affect skin, like sun, sleep, and stress. And the nutrients you get from food, too, have a huge effect on your skin’s health.
Nutrition matters when it comes to achieving healthful skin. Certain foods can increase the risk of breakouts, encourage dry skin and contribute to wrinkles. On the flip side, food can help skin shine from the inside out by providing nourishing antioxidants, phytochemicals, and nutrients. To understand how the food you eat can affect your skin health, here’s how nutrition and skin health are connected, and what specific nutrients will optimize radiant skin.
Skin health starts within
To foster well-hydrated, wholly nourished skin, you’ll want to take a look at the kinds of nutrients you’re eating. “Focus on foods that are rich in specific micronutrients to help support antioxidant systems already in place that combat premature aging in skin cells,” informs Lauren M. Burns, RD, LD, integrative and functional registered dietitian and sustainability enthusiast.
Knowing what these nutrients are is the first step. The second step is “considering how you might add these foods to your diet. Foods, such as brightly colored fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, contain these important nutrients. Try to optimize your intake of antioxidant rich foods at each meal to support your body’s natural system of balance,” advises Burns.
So, which nutrients are the most important to include in your daily diet? Experts recommend the following.
“Foods with omega-3 fatty acids are extremely beneficial as they provide extra protection from the sun’s harmful rays and are important to keep skin hydrated and supple for a healthy glow,” notifies Bianca Tamburello, RDN, on behalf of the Chilean Salmon Marketing Council.
A recent study reported omega-3s lowering inflammation and slowing down the accelerated aging process. Stress causes cortisol levels to rise, and omega-3s reduce cortisol levels. The omega-3s boost the body’s internal repair mechanisms, helping improve the skin’s health.
Getting a well-balanced intake of omega-3s through fatty fish (like salmon and sardines), seaweed, chia seeds, ground flax meal, hemp seeds, and walnuts can help preserve skin elasticity. Enjoy a Spicy Salmon Poke Bowl for a savory meal. For a sweet, omega-3-rich treat, try these Lemon Chia Bars.
Vitamin C is a popular ingredient in many skincare products due to its science-backed sun damage prevention benefits, reducing wrinkles and dark spots, and slowing down aging. “Foods rich in vitamin C provide an important precursor to collagen formation,” notes Burns. Collagen strengthens the skin and provides elasticity and hydration, which are major components of skin health.
Hydrate the skin from within and reduce signs of aging by maintaining optimal levels of vitamin C. You don’t need to take a pill because many foods naturally provide good sources of vitamin C. Since vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, overconsumption will just result in you peeing out the excess. Save your money on supplements and get it from food throughout the day.
Women need 75 milligrams of vitamin C daily and men need 90 milligrams. The upper limit is 2000 milligrams daily. Strawberries, blueberries, oranges, kiwi, lemon, bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts all contain good amounts of vitamin C per serving.
Get your vitamin C fix with these recipe ideas including salads, fruit cups, grilled and roasted vegetables, dips, and more.
“Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage and promotes skin health,” says Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDCES, FAND, dietitian specializing in eating well for life. It’s high anti-inflammatory effects can reduce swelling and erythema, the reddening of the skin caused from inflammation. Many skin products include vitamin E in their formulas because of this.
Getting vitamin E through food is achievable. Both men and women need just 15 milligrams per day. Sheth shares, “Almonds and sunflower seeds are two foods that can help boost vitamin E in your diet. Enjoy them as a delicious snack in a trail mix. Toss them into a salad. Add them to a smoothie or use as almond butter or sunflower seed butter on your toast.” Make your own Smoky Sunflower Dip to enjoy with crunchy celery, carrots, and red bell peppers.
Zinc is very anti-inflammatory and can be beneficial for reducing inflammatory acne and scarring. Zinc is used in a lot of dermatology products to reduce redness and fight acne. It’s also used in the medical treatment of eczema, psoriasis, ulcers, wounds, and warts. One study even used zinc to reduce wrinkles in women. Besides being used in a topical manner, eating foods that are rich in this mineral will encourage healthy, glowing skin.
Women need 8 milligrams of zinc daily and men need 11 milligrams of zinc daily. Foods rich in zinc are pumpkin seeds, cashews, quinoa, lentils, oysters and turkey. One ounce of cashews has 1.64 milligrams of zinc. Three ounces of oysters has 14 milligrams of zinc.
Up your zinc intake by enjoying these Stuffed Poblano Chile Peppers with Corn, Quinoa and Pumpkin Seeds. Get decadent and learn how to easily Shuck Your Own Oysters at Home for a wonderfully entertaining meal.
Learn more about feeding your skin the nutrients it needs:
Featured recipe: Tamarind Roasted Chipotle Salmon