Eat your way to more beautiful skin
Some vitamins in creams and lotions can help improve your complexion, but if you really want to have beautiful skin, start on the inside, says nutritionist Joy Bauer. Although acne and wrinkles have different causes, nutrition can help minimize or prevent both these problems and enhance your skin’s natural beauty. Here's her prescription:
The best defense against the free radical damage of oxidation is a diet rich in antioxidant vitamins and minerals (and plenty of water!). Research suggests that certain antioxidants—vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and vitamin A (in the form of beta carotene rich foods)—nourish and protect skin to extend its youthful appearance.
Vitamin C is involved in collagen production and protects cells from free radical damage. Scientific studies found that when lab animals ate vitamin C-fortified food, their skin was better able to fight off oxidative damage. That said, replenish your skin’s vitamin C stores by eating plenty of vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. Good sources include peppers (red/green/yellow), oranges, strawberries, lemons, and broccoli.
Vitamin E helps protect cell membranes and guard against UV radiation damage. Some research suggests that vitamin E may work in combination with vitamin C to provide an extra boost of anti-aging skin protection. However, because recent studies have raised some questions about the safety of vitamin E supplements, these nutrients should come from your diet, not from potent pills. I recommend you stick with food sources like wheat germ, fortified cereals, nuts and seeds (and the small amount found in a multivitamin).
Another antioxidant critical for skin health is beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Beta carotene/vitamin A is involved in the growth and repair of body tissues, and may protect against sun damage. In extremely high doses, straight vitamin A from supplements can be toxic, so always avoid. However, ample beta carotene from foods like sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, mangos and apricots is entirely safe and great for your skin.
Selenium helps safeguard the skin from sun damage and delays aging by protecting skin quality and elasticity. Dietary selenium has been shown to reduce sun damage, and even to prevent some skin cancers in animals. Be sure to get your selenium from food, though, and not from supplements. Food sources include: Brazil nuts, tuna (canned light in water), crab, wheat germ
Healthy fats known as omega-3 fatty acids help maintain cell membranes so that they are effective barriers—allowing water and nutrients in, and keeping toxins out. Omega-3s also seem to be able to protect skin against sun damage. In a study of skin cancer, people who ate diets rich in fish oils and other omega 3 fats had a 29% lower risk of squamous cell cancer than those who got very little omega 3 fats from food. Good food sources include oily fish, sardines, flaxseeds, walnuts
To improve skin health, I strongly recommend getting your nutrients from food sources. If you would also like to consider supplements, I recommend:
Choose a brand that contains 100% DV for vitamins A (optimally 50-100% coming from beta carotene and/or mixed carotenoids), C, and E, and which provides for about 55 micrograms selenium.
Omega-3 Fish Oils
If you find it difficult to get omega-3 fats from food sources, try fish oil supplements. Speak with you doctor about which brand and amount is right for you.
- 2 cold oranges, peeled and cut into sections.
- 1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
- 1 cup frozen whole strawberries
- 1 medium carrot, peeled, shredded
- 1 (5 oz) container plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons wheat germ
- 2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
Nutrient Analysis (one serving)Calories: 250Protein: 20 gCarbohydrates: 48 gTotal Fat: 4 gSaturated Fat: 0 g Cholesterol: 0 mgSodium: 72 mgFiber: 9 gSkin specific nutrients:Vitamin C: 126 mg (209% DV)Beta Carotene: 2859 ugVitamin E: 3.9 IU (13% DV)Vitamin A (all from Beta Carotene): 5839 IU (117%DV)Selenium: 9 ug (14% DV)+ omega 3 fats
For more information on healthy eating, visit nutrition expert, Joy Bauer’s website at www.joybauernutrition.com