This article was created by BlogHer for Nature Made.
As a former beauty editor and bonafide product junkie turned aspiring minimalist, my approach to skin care has undergone a major overhaul. I’m no longer under the spell of pretty packaging and Instagram co-signs. Instead, I’m simply being more compassionate with my skin. I spend time researching ingredients before I invest in them and use them for at least a couple of weeks before drawing any conclusions. I apply products gently. I always moisturize. And most importantly, I’m conscious of what I consume, trying to regularly eat the best food for skin (and my overall health).
For many creators, self-maintenance is synonymous with self-care. Our skin care routines are a much-deserved break from the fast pace of our professional lives; a moment of mindfulness. Seeing the fruits of that ritual (aka healthy skin) only adds to our health and happiness. Whether we like it or not, the food we eat plays an important role. Ahead, Dr. Susan Mitmesser, VP of Science & Technology at Pharmavite, delves into all of the lifestyle choices that could enhance your glow.
How does our diet affect our skin?
The quality of your diet and other lifestyle factors (such as smoking and going outside without sunscreen) play important roles in supporting skin health. Making sure you are getting enough nutrients – carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats, as well as vitamins and minerals – through your diet or supplements every day is necessary for healthy skin. A balanced diet provides your skin with the nutrients it needs to function properly as your body’s first protective barrier. An absence of some nutrients in your skin can alter your skin health and function, and ultimately its appearance and texture. If you avoid certain foods or know your diet lacks some nutrients, a supplement can help bridge any nutrient gaps that may be missing.
What are some foods that are good for the skin?
While an overall balanced diet is needed for your skin to look and feel its best, there are certain nutrients that are especially important for healthy skin, such as vitamins A, C, E, zinc, and healthy fats.
- Vitamin A is found as retinol in animal foods and carotenoids in fruits and vegetables. Retinol is readily absorbed by skin cells in both the inner and outer layers of your skin to support skin health. Good food sources include eggs, milk, carrots, sweet potatoes and spinach.
- Vitamins C and E are antioxidants that help neutralize damaging free radicals in skin cells, from chemicals, UV rays, and other environmental factors that the skin is exposed to daily. Vitamin C is also needed as part of collagen production in skin cells. Some great food sources of vitamin C include citrus, as well as vegetables like red and green peppers, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. Vitamin E can be found in cooking oils, nuts, and peanut butter.
- Zinc is an essential mineral that is present in both the inner and outer layers of skin cells and is needed for skin cells to function properly. Make sure your diet consists of foods containing zinc, like shellfish, beef, nuts, and seeds.
- Your skin cells need fatty acids like omega-3s to support the lipid barrier and prevent water loss and dry skin. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in seafood, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
What can we drink to improve skin health?
To support skin hydration and moisture, try to get about eight 8-oz glasses of water per day. If increasing your water intake does not directly improve skin dryness, it could be caused by other factors like harsh detergents or changes in temperature or humidity.
Are there any foods that should only be consumed in moderation to maintain healthy skin?
A diet high in refined sugars, salt, saturated fat, and alcohol – and low in antioxidants like vitamins C and E and healthy fats – will allow the skin to be more vulnerable to damage from everyday exposure to environmental factors, like UV rays from the sun.
Can you explain what collagen is?
Collagen is a type of protein that is one of the building blocks for skin structure, as well as your bones, tendons, cartilage, and other connective tissue. Most of the collagen in the body consists of collagen I, II, and III. Type I collagen is extremely strong to be able to stretch without breaking, supporting skin structure and elasticity.
Type I collagen makes up 90% of your hair, skin, and nails. Type II collagen helps build cartilage and maintains the gut lining. Type III collagen is found alongside type I collagen in your skin. Loss of collagen (due to aging or other factors) and/or damage to collagen in the skin are thought to contribute to wrinkles.
What are some ways to get more collagen into your diet?
Although your body can make collagen, collagen production declines as you get older. However, you can still support collagen production by making sure you are consuming enough of the nutrients needed to make collagen and support its production. These include protein-rich foods, such as beef, chicken, fish, beans, eggs, and dairy products. The process of making collagen also requires nutrients like vitamin C and zinc.
Bone broth, either bought at the store or homemade, is a great source of collagen. Bone broth recipes use the bones of beef, chicken, or fish to pull out the collagen by slowly simmering the bones in water over one to two days. You can also look for a dietary supplement that is specially formulated with skin health nutrients and those that include collagen, like Nature Made Collagen Gummies, which provides types I and III hydrolyzed collagen.
Are there any supplements that can promote healthy skin? Which are your favorites?
When it comes to supplementation, I always recommend starting by evaluating your diet to ensure you’re getting the nutrients your body needs through food. Of course, nutrient gaps do still exist in even the healthiest diets, which is where vitamins and supplements can play an important role. A multivitamin formulated for your age and gender provides daily nutritional support with over 20 essential vitamins and minerals, including skin health nutrients, like vitamins A, C, E, and zinc.
You can also look for supplements that are specially formulated with skin health nutrients such as Nature Made Collagen Gummies, which provides types I and III hydrolyzed collagen, vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc in a delicious lemon-flavored gummy.
What are the main differences between using topicals for skin care like creams and serums, versus incorporating skin-nourishing foods into your diet?
Think of it less as a difference and more as a more holistic approach to nourishing your skin. Healthy skin starts from the inside out, and that requires a balanced diet with daily intake of all essential vitamins and minerals to support normal functions and healthy skin cells.
Topical application of nutrients can help support the health of the outermost layer of your skin, which is slower to receive the nutrients you consume from your diet. Topical application of certain nutrients, like vitamins A (retinol), vitamin C, and vitamin E complement your dietary intake, leading to stronger, healthier skin.
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