Nutrition and Skin Health

Many factors which contribute to healthy skin, with nutrition being one of them. A balanced diet plays an important role in the proper functioning of the human body, including the skin. So how exactly can nutrition optimise skin health? And what specific nutrients should we include?

How is diet linked to healthy skin?

Healthy dietary habits can benefit the skin’s appearance, delay the ageing process (or as we like to say ‘future proofing’) and reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Skin is the largest organ in our body and plays multiple key roles including physical protection, water and electrolyte balance, thermoregulation (keeping us cool or warm), participating in immune responses, metabolism and homeostasis – so it makes sense to look after it!

How can we use food to optimise skin health?

Eating a well-balanced diet which includes a variety of plant foods such as colourful fruits and vegetables, legumes, wholegrains, herbs, spices, nuts and seeds and extra virgin olive oil, along with plenty of water is important for optimising skin health (and general health!). Some key nutrients which research has found are beneficial for promoting healthy skin include:

  • Vitamin C: also known as L-ascorbic acid, Vitamin C is a nutrient and antioxidant that plays a key role in skin health. Vitamin C helps to promote the formation of collagen in the dermis, and protects against skin oxidation (which in turn helps slow the ageing process). Dietary sources include kiwi fruit, citrus fruits, berries, capsicum, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and potato.
  • Vitamin A: an important nutrient and antioxidant with many derivatives including carotenoids such as-carotene, astaxanthin, lycopene and retinol.  Vitamin A and its derivatives play various roles in skin health including protection against UV radiation and maintaining strong tissue structure. Dietary sources include fruits and vegetables (especially orange and red varieties), egg yolk, milk, liver, cheese and oily fish such as salmon.
  • Vitamin E: another important nutrient and antioxidant for skin health. Vitamin E contributes to antioxidant defences of the skin, protecting the epidermis and dermis from oxidative stress. Some research shows it also has strong photoprotective, firming, hydrating and anti-ageing properties in addition to assisting with skin elasticity and structure. Dietary sources include certain vegetables, vegetable oils such as wheatgerm and sunflower oil, corn, soy and some meats. 
  • Vitamin D: a fat-soluble vitamin that we predominantly obtain through sun exposure but also receive in small amounts from food sources such as egg yolk, fatty fish, fortified foods, and mushrooms (tip – leave mushrooms out in the sun for 1 hour to boost vitamin D levels!). Research indicates Vitamin D plays a protective role against UVB-induced skin damage and may play a role in the prevention of skin cancer.
  • Essential fatty acids: Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential fatty acids which play a key role in maintaining skin structure and function. Inadequate intake can lead to skin dryness, inflammation and irritation. Dietary sources include include oily fish such as salmon, flaxseeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, avocado, walnuts, and sesame seeds.
  • Polyphenols: plant polyphenols have a role  in maintaining skin function, smoothing and hydration, skin elasticity, and preventing damage from UV radiation. Polyphenols are found in a variety of different plant foods and are particularly high in fruits, vegetables, green tea, coffee, red wine, dark chocolate, extra virgin olive oil, legumes, wholegrains, herbs and spices.

For optimal skin health ensure you eat a well-balanced diet based on plant foods that includes a variety of the antioxidants and nutrients mentioned above. And don't forget adequate hydration!

Skin health isn’t just about what we eat. There are other lifestyle factors that play a part. These include: moderating alcohol intake, avoiding smoking, getting adequate sleep, regular physical activity, and applying the right amount of high-factor sunscreen to all areas of skin exposed to the sun (click HERE to read more about why sunscreen is so important!).

If you would like to discuss topical treatments for anti-aging, acne, rosacea, uneven skin tone or melasma, read more about our Qr8 MediSkin service.


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