Your skin—the largest organ in your body—is a clear reflection of your lifestyle choices over the years. Unhealthy habits such as poor diet, too much UV exposure, a sedentary lifestyle, and smoking lead to skin problems like acne, age spots, dry skin, wrinkles, and even skin cancer.
Healthy habits include protection from UV light, exercise, and eating nutrient-rich foods that support skin health.
Annual visits to the dermatologist are also essential in maintaining healthy skin. A dermatologist will identify and remove dangerous spots on the skin that may be precancerous. In addition, a dermatologist can help you identify what skin type you have and recommend an appropriate skin regimen.
The following nutrients are vital for a healthy, young-looking, and glowing skin.
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A acts as an antioxidant for the skin, meaning that it protects the skin from free radical damage, preventing dangerous diseases and skin cancer. It also plays an important anti-aging role for your skin.
Another important skin-supporting role that Vitamin A plays is that it encourages healthy skin cell production and stimulates fibroblasts, which are the cells responsible for developing tissue that keeps skin firm.
A deficiency in vitamin A can result in flaky, dry skin.
Good sources of vitamin A include butternut squash, sweet potato, carrot, kale, beef liver, spinach, apricots, and broccoli.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is another essential nutrient that acts as an antioxidant on the skin. It helps to protect the skin against wrinkles, age spots, and skin cancer. (1)
The body needs vitamin C in order to produce collagen, the protein that keeps the skin firm and young-looking.
Good sources of vitamin C include guava, black currant, red pepper, kiwi, orange, strawberries, papaya, and broccoli.
3. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a very important nutrient for skin health. Just like vitamins A and C, it is an antioxidant, protecting the skin against sun damage and pollutants that may age the skin. It is also known to improve chapped and dry skin. (2)(3)
Vitamin E oil is used to heal dry skin and improve the appearance of scars—including acne scars.
Good sources of vitamin E include wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnut oil, pine nuts, goose meat, peanuts, avocado, and salmon.
4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids help to reduce inflammation throughout the body and improve inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, and atopic dermatitis. Omega-3 fatty acids also help to plump the skin up and keep it hydrated. For young, glowing skin, include essential fatty acids in your diet.
Good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fatty fish like salmon, sardines, trout, tuna, mackerel, and herring. Other sources include flaxseed, flaxseed oil, chia seeds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds.
Zinc is an important mineral that has antioxidant properties. It helps to protect against UV damage, improves wound healing, balances out oily skin, and boosts immune system function. (4)
In fact, many sunscreen brands use the synthetic version of zinc in their products to block UV light from damaging the skin.
Good sources of zinc include oysters, shellfish, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, and whole grains.
Selenium is another essential trace mineral that provides important antioxidant protection for the skin. It helps to maintain skin firmness and elasticity—the properties that keep the skin looking young.
In addition, selenium supports vitamin E activity, resulting in plump and glowing skin, and can also help to balance oily skin.
Good sources of selenium include brazil nuts, walnuts, fish, ham, beef, poultry, seafood, and whole grains.
Collagen is a protein that helps build up hair, nails, joints, intestinal tissue, and skin. The more concentrated collagen is in the skin, the firmer and more youthful it looks. Foods with collagen promote skin healing and increase hydration and softness of the skin. It is the ultimate anti-aging nutrient.
Good sources of collagen include bone broth, wild salmon, leafy greens, eggs, berries, and soy.
Beneficial gut bacteria is the key to maintaining a healthy immune system and reducing inflammation throughout the body. When gut bacteria is off balance, it can cause all kinds of problems all over the body, including the skin—with conditions like acne, eczema, and other inflammatory skin conditions.
Good sources of probiotics include fermented foods such as natto, kombucha, kimchi, sauerkraut, yogurt, and kefir.
9. B Vitamins
B vitamins, especially vitamin B3 (niacin) and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), are essential for maintaining healthy skin.
Vitamin B3 may help to protect the skin against skin cancer. It also seems to be an effective treatment for inflammatory skin conditions, including acne, rosacea, and chronic redness of the skin.
Good sources of vitamin B3 include turkey, chicken breast, peanuts, lamb liver, tuna, and green peas.
Vitamin B5 supports wound healing and helps to increase levels of glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin against sun damage.
Good sources of vitamin B5 include mushrooms, eggs, oily fish, beef, poultry, sunflower seeds, lean pork, and avocado.
Silica is a natural compound found in many places, including the earth’s crust, food, rocks, plants, medicine, cosmetics, toothpaste, and many other things.
Silica comes in a few different forms, some safer than others. The natural silica that we acquire from our food helps to produce collagen and reduce inflammation in the body.
Natural sources of silica include oats, apples, oranges, cucumbers, rice, wheat, onions, flax seeds, and other seeds.
For healthy, glowing skin, make sure to eat a variety of healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, fatty fish, whole grains, nuts, and seeds. Protect your skin with sunscreen and sun hats, and stay in shaded areas during the hottest hours of the day.
Don’t forget to schedule your annual appointment with your dermatologist to maintain healthy skin well into your old age.