The Nutrients You Need For Glowing Skin
Beauty really is an inside job.
No matter how dedicated you are to your daily skin care routine, nothing can replace a lousy diet.
Aside from genetics and lifestyle factors, eating a nourishing diet, filled with good fats, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, can often mean the difference between a fresh, glowing complexion and a tired, dull or puffy one.
Below are a list of essential nutrients and food sources that have been shown to be beneficial for healthy, glowing skin.
A word for my acne sufferers: As someone who suffered from terrible acne growing up, I emphasise with those in a similar boat. Acne is a humbling experience, to say the least. It requires you to dig deep and brave a world, where you don’t necessarily want to do so face first. For those with acne or other skin conditions, this list below may not be enough for you. And in those circumstances, I encourage you to see your GP for specialist help, like a Dermatologist or Accredited Practising Dietitian.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant essential for skin health and is found naturally in our bodies and certain foods.
As an antioxidant, it prevents oxidative damage to cells by helping to remove free radicals (the bad guys that contribute to illness and ageing). This means that it helps the body with the natural wound-healing process and helps to renew skin cells. It is when the body experiences oxidative stress that cells become weak, and your skin can begin to lose its shine.
Foods rich in vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds, avocadoes, eggs, walnuts and green leafy spinach.
Vitamin C is a little pocket rocket when it comes to skin health.
Vitamin C helps to neutralise free radicals, such as that caused by sun damage. It also helps us to make the proteins collagen and elastin, which bind skin cells together, giving our skin its youthful elasticity and prevention of fine lines and wrinkles.
Foods rich in vitamin C include berries, capsicum, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, tomatoes, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Fun fact, did you know kiwi fruit has three times the amount of vitamin C than an orange?
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
The health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) are well documented.
Powerful anti-inflammatory agents, omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in the body and provide nourishment to the skin.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also responsible for skin repair, moisture content and overall flexibility. Think of them as foods that make your skin GLOW. Sign me up for that!
To reap the benefits of omega-3s, it is recommended you eat oily fish, such as salmon, at least twice a week. As this can often be expensive, aim for cheaper omega-3 alternatives such as sardines and anchovies. I also recommend taking an additional daily omega-3 supplement, as the body does not produce essential fatty acids and must be obtained through diet alone.
If you suffer from eczema or psoriasis, seeing an Accredited Practising Dietitian can be beneficial as there is scientific evidence that omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial in reducing symptoms.
Foods rich in omega-3s include salmon, mackerel, sardines, walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds.
Zinc is another superstar mineral that contributes to healthy skin.
Zinc is essential for skin healing and preventing infections. Upping your zinc not only helps maintain healthy, radiant skin, but it can also help with acne and other skin conditions, such as dandruff.
If you have ance, zinc acts by controlling the production of oil in the skin and also helps to balance the hormones involved in developing acne.
While oysters are your best source of zinc, other foods rich in this mineral are red meat, baked beans, chicken and pumpkin seeds.
Note on zinc supplementation: talk to a health professional before supplementing as the absorption of zinc can interfere with other substances found in food, i.e. the amount and type of protein consumed in the diet. It is also not recommended to exceed the limit of 40mg per day for adults and 25mg (9-13 years) or 35mg (14-18 years) per day for teens.
Vitamin A usually gets it applause for healthy vision; however, it is also essential for healthy, glowing skin.
This fat-soluble vitamin is essential for skin repair and maintenance. If you suffer from dry or flaky skin, it could be a sign of deficiency in vitamin A.
Beta-carotene (what the body converts into vitamin A) is an antioxidant found in brightly coloured foods, think sweet potato and carrots. This antioxidant helps to reduce free radical damage, particularly those caused by damage from sun exposure.
Foods sources high in vitamin A and beta-carotene include sweet potato, beef liver, carrots, spinach leaves, rockmelon, egg yolks, red capsicum and mangoes.
Nutrition tip: Keep the skin on your sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots etc. as that is where a lot of the goodness lives, including fibre to aid in gut and skin health.
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant that is responsible for maintaining skin firmness and elasticity.
This mineral not only prevents acne and the breakdown of collagen but also helps to promote the absorption of vitamin E. The end result, glowing supple skin.
Food sources rich in selenium include brazil nuts, tuna, sardines, red meat, chicken, whole grains, brown rice and baked beans.
What you eat can have a big impact on your skin health.
The foods on this list are great options to keep your skin healthy, strong and glowing, and if nothing else, provide essential nutrients for overall health.
Cunningham V. 6 Essential Nutrients for Beautiful Skin [Internet]. New York: Mind Body Green [date unknown] [cited 2019 June 11]. Available from: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-9667/6-essential-nutrients-for-beautiful-skin.html.
National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand: Zinc [Internet]. Australia: NHMRC; updated 2014 April 9; cited 2019 June 11]. Available from: https://www.nrv.gov.au/nutrients/zinc.
Schagen SK, Zampeli VA, Makrantonaki E & Zouboulis CC. Discovering the link between nutrition and skin ageing. Dermato Endorinology [Internet]. 2012 July 1 [cited 2019 June 11];4(3):298-307. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583891/.
Somer E. The good-skin diet. Shape [Internet]. 2002 June [cited 2019 June 11]; 21(10):148-150. Available from: https://search.proquest.com/docview/195287764?accountid=34512.
U.S Department of Health & Human Services. National Institutes of Health (NIH): Office of Dietary Supplements [Internet]. Bethesda: NIH [date unknown] [cited 2019 June 11]. Available from: https://ods.od.nih.gov.
Weaver L. Beauty From The Inside Out [E-Book]. Australia: Little Green Frog Publishing Ltd, 2013 [cited 2019 June 11]. Available from: https://www.drlibby.com.