The mantra “you are what you eat” is so true when it comes to beauty. What you eat affects how you look today and down the road, as you grow older. Here is a rundown of nutrients you need to consume for a healthy glowing skin.
Vitamin A. This fat-soluble vitamin is essential for the maintenance and healing of epithelia tissues, with skin being the largest expanse of epithelial tissue in the body. Best sources include egg yolk, oysters and non-fat milk. You can also get vitamin A from foods rich in beta carotene, which the body can covert into vitamin A.
Beta-carotene. Researchers say that as little as 30 milligrammes a day, the equivalent of one and half cups of cooked carrots can help prevent and reduce the redness and inflammation associated with sunburn. Beta-carotene accumulates in the skin, providing 24-hour protection against sun damage. Also, when combined with vitamin E, other carotenoids (cousins to beta carotene) like lutein seem to reduce redness associated with sunburn and reduce skin sensitivity to sunlight. Best sources of beta-carotene include dark coloured produce such as carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon, papaya, broccoli and spinach.
B vitamins. B vitamins help convert calories into energy for skin metabolism and are components of enzymes that maintain normal skin function, including functioning of the oil-producing glands, which keep skin moist and smooth. That’s why poor intake of almost any B vitamin can cause dry or scaly skin. Best sources of B vitamins are poultry, red meat, fish, bananas, whole grains, brewer’s yeast, peanut butter and eggs.
Vitamin C. When taken internally, this vitamin helps maintain collagen – the underlying supporting structure of skin. But sun exposure and stress can drain vitamin C from the skin, leaving it vulnerable to damage from the environment. This is why anti-aging creams and sunscreens have been infused with this potent antioxidant. Best sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits and juices, kiwi, cantaloupe, strawberries, tomatoes, sweet peppers and green peas.
Vitamin E. This antioxidant helps slow the aging of skin cells by reducing the production of an enzyme called collagenase, which breaks down collagen causing the skin to sag and wrinkle. Sun exposure can deplete vitamin E from the skin, making it more vulnerable to sun damage. Vitamin E is found in skin care products, from moisturisers to body washes. Best sources of this essential vitamin include salmon, legume, extra-lean meat, almonds, leafy vegetables, and olive and sesame oils.
Selenium. The damaging effects of ultraviolet light are minimised by this antioxidant mineral, thereby reducing your risk of sunburn. In fact, researchers say low blood levels of selenium also increase your risk of skin cancer. Best sources are tuna, wheat germ, sesame seeds and whole grains.
Zinc. This trace mineral helps maintain collagen and elastin fibres that give skin its firmness, helping to prevent sagging and wrinkles. It also links together amino acids that are needed for the formation of collagen, which is essential in wound healing. Best sources include seafood, turkey, pork, soya beans and mushrooms.
3 Steps to radiant skin
In addition to eating a vitamins-rich diet, follow these tips for healthy, glowing skin.
1. Use the right cleanser. Cleanse your face no more than twice a day using the right cleanser for your skin type – normal, dry, oily, sensitive or combination. Use body washes with vitamin E to keep skin soft.
2. Exfoliate 2-3 times a week. Gently scrubbing off dead cells from the skin’s surface helps fresh cells shine through, making your skin more radiant. Use good quality face and body exfoliators.
3. Moisturise regularly. After showering, slather on moisturiser with hydrating ingredients like Shea butter, milk or jojoba oil. Dab a toner on the face to normalise the ph balance before moisturising. Ensure to use the correct moisturizer for your skin type. For both face and body, look for the antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E on the product’s ingredient label, which help protect skin from environmental pollutants. Use good moisturisers for both face and body.
The ultimate skin smoothie
This easy to make smoothie has a healthy dose of the nutrients your skin needs – beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, and is only loaded with 145 calories per serving.
½ cup diced mango
½ cup diced papaya
¼ cup apple juice
¼ cup crushed ice
Combine all the ingredients in a blender, puree until smooth and serve.
Published on February 2013