Skin issues? Maybe you’re missing these nutrients
When it comes to skin nutrition, there are some key nutrients that are needed for healthy and flourishing skin – something we all wish to have!
When we think of skin care, we typically think of ways to help our skin from the outside. This means using, special cleansers, lotions, and creams that are “essential” and necessary for healthy skin. While these are an important part of skin care, your skin is created and nourished from the inside out. The nutrients you consume on a day-to-day basis affect the way your skin feels and looks. Skin care isn’t only something we need to do on the outside. What we eat and drink affects all of our vital organs—including our skin.
Your skin is the largest organ and it plays a vital role in your overall health and wellness. It protects what’s inside you by keeping water and nutrients in, while keeping harmful bacteria, infections, and viruses out. Your skin helps you maintain your body temperature and makes vitamin D when exposed to the sun. It’s also full of nerve endings to help you sense the outside world and avoid damage from things that are too hot or too cold. Your skin is constantly changing based on aging, hormones, disease states, temperatures, medications, and sun damage. Today we will spend some time reviewing five specific nutrients are necessary for healthy skin.
An adult body is made up of at least 50-60% of water. Water is required for every cell, tissue, and organ to function. Water helps regulate temperature, rid body of waste, and transport essential nutrients into cells, so they work properly. It aids in digestion and helps give skin a healthy glow. The daily amount required varies according to age, gender, weight, and overall.
You may not always think about water as an essential nutrient, but water plays an important role in skin health. When your skin epidermis doesn’t have enough water, your skin may begin to feel rough and lose elasticity. Drinking more water can help skin hydration and may be particularly beneficial if you have dry skin or don’t drink enough water.
How much water do I need? One recommendation comes from The National Academies of Sciences and Engineering Medicine which suggests healthy women to consume approximately 2.7 liters (91 ounces daily) of total water and healthy men to consume approximately 3.7 liters (125 ounces daily) of total water from food and beverages each day. Typically, the more you weigh the more water you need. For instance, if you are 125 lbs., you may only require 7 cups of water per day but if you weigh 225 lbs. you may require closer to 10-11 cups of water per day. Factors that increase the amount of water needed include excessive or prolonged physical activity, hot temperatures, high altitude, fever, and diarrhea. Signs that you are not drinking enough water or are dehydrated include dry mouth, dark colored urine, dizziness, intense thirst, and fatigue. Typically, if your urine is pale or clear in color and you are not feeling thirsty, you are probably drinking enough water. If you have dark amber urine and are feeling thirsty, you may not be drinking enough water for your body. It’s important to find the right amount of water that your need, because it is possible to drink too much water which is extremely dangerous and requires immediate medical attention.
Protein is an essential macronutrient which means you need to eat protein every day in order to get the amount your body needs. Typically, the more you weigh, the more protein you need.
When it comes to skin care, protein is important because your skin is made up of several different proteins including collagen (takes up the most of your skin), elastin, and keratin. You need to eat protein daily for your body to make enough keratin – found in skin, hair, and nails.
Over time, and with exposure to the elements, your body’s ability to produce collagen decreases. Eating enough protein, will help with collagen production.
The recommended daily amount of protein is based on body weight. This means that a woman who weighs 140lbs may need about 50 g protein/day while a woman who weighs 200lbs may need about 70 g protein/day. Protein is found in meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs. Plant-based sources of protein include soy, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, whole grains.
3. Essential fatty acids
There are two types of fatty acids that are essential nutrients for our health and our skin: Omega 6 fatty acids and omega 3 fatty acids. Not eating enough essential fatty acids is linked to increased water loss from the skin, drying it out and causing weakness in the protective outer barrier.
How can I get enough essential fatty acids in my diet? You can get these essential fatty acids from eating fish (salmon, tuna), shellfish, nuts (walnuts), seeds (flax, chia, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame), oils (soy, canola), leafy vegetables, and avocados.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an essential nutrient when it comes to skin health – and more importantly skin healing. Vitamin C is a water- soluble vitamin and antioxidant that plays many roles in your body, including in skin health.
A deficiency of Vitamin C (scurvy) results in skin lesions, as well as skin that is easily bruised and slow to heal. This is, in part, because of Vitamin C’s role in stabilizing the protein collagen. Another sign of Vitamin C deficiency in the skin affects hair follicles and can cause “corkscrew hairs.” These are examples of why Vitamin C is so important for skin health.
Fruits and vegetables are rich sources of vitamin C. This includes foods such as: bell peppers, citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits), broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, kiwis, and potatoes.
5. Vitamin E
Vitamin E are fat-soluble antioxidants that work synergistically with Vitamin C to help keep skin healthy. When given together, vitamins C and E (and zinc) can speed up wound healing. Deficiency of Vitamin E is linked to red, dry skin.
Vitamin E is often applied directly (topically) on the skin to reduce redness and some of the effects of sun damage. Eating Vitamin E rich foods help the skin from the inside by protecting collagen and fats from breaking down.
Vitamin E can be found in vegetables, oils (wheat germ oil, olive oil, vegetable oil, sunflower oil), nuts (almonds, hazelnuts), spinach, broccoli, corn, kiwis, and soy.
Skin care beyond nutrition
While nutrition is essential, don’t forget other important skin care practices that help protect and nurture your skin.
● Use gentle cleansers and warm (not too hot) water to keep skin clean
● Moisturize after taking a shower or washing your hands
● Avoid things that bother your skin such as harsh cleansers, fragrances, and irritating fabrics
● Limit your sun exposure and use sunscreen as appropriate
● Be physically active
● Try to get enough quality sleep
● Use a humidifier and wear gloves when the weather is dry and cold
● Avoid tobacco
The nutrients you consume feed your whole body—including your skin. As your largest organ with many critical roles, your skin needs a variety of different nutrients every single day. Water, protein and essential fatty acids are important macronutrients. While the antioxidant vitamins C and E are among some of the micronutrients your skin needs to heal and stay healthy.
In addition to nutrition, caring for the outside of your skin is also important. Using gentle cleansers, warm water, and moisturizers, and avoiding irritants and allergens will help. If you have any medical concerns with your skin, see your healthcare professional