Vitamin A is necessary for maintenance and repair of skin tissue, so if your diet falls even slightly below normal on this vitamin, your skin might be dry, scaly and rough. On the flip side, too much vitamin A can cause skin itching, hair loss and cracked lips.
Sources: Nonfat milk is fortified with vitamin A, and the body can convert beta carotene found in orange and dark green vegetables into vitamin A. This conversion is carefully regulated in the body, so it’s impossible to overproduce.
Poor intake of almost any B vitamin, including vitamin B2, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, pantothenic acid and biotin, can cause dermatitis-like symptoms, such as dry or scaly skin, itching, or a burning sensation. Vitamins B2 and B6 also are important in maintaining the oil-producing (sebaceous) glands, which keep skin moist and smooth — exactly how we want it to look. When it comes to skin, the single most important B vitamin is biotin, a nutrient that forms the basis of skin, nail, and hair cells.
Left- a vit B deficient skin; Right- a normal skin
- Vitamin B2: Nonfat milk, asparagus, mushrooms
- Niacin: Chicken, peanut butter, green peas
- Vitamin B6: Red meat, fish, bananas
- Vitamin B12: Red meat, nonfat milk, tempeh
- Pantothenic acid: Vegetables, whole grains, meat
- Biotin: Eggs, oatmeal, soy
This trace mineral helps maintain collagen and elastin fibers that give skin its firmness and help prevent sagging and wrinkles as we age, Somer explians. Zinc is also important in healing cuts and scrapes, while a deficiency causes dry, rough skin. Limited evidence also suggests zinc can help treat acne.
Other inorganic minerals which aids the skin includes:
Selenium. Scientists believe this mineral plays a key role in skin cancer prevention. Taken in supplement form or in a cream, it protects skin from sun damage. If you do spend any time in the sun, selenium could reduce your chance of burning, lowering your risk of skin cancer. The best dietary sources of selenium include whole-grain cereals, seafood, garlic, and eggs.
Copper. Still another important mineral is copper. Together with vitamin C and the mineral zinc, copper helps to develop elastin, the fibers that support skin structure from underneath. While a copper deficiency is rare (doctors caution that supplements can be dangerous), topical applications of copper-rich creams can firm the skin and help restore some elasticity, according to some study results.
Sources: Oysters, turkey breast, wheat germ
Omega 3 fats, EPA and DHA are a must for overall health and healthy skin, Somer says. Foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids help reduce the body’s production of inflammatory compounds — natural chemicals involved in the aging process that affect how healthy the skin looks and feels. Stocking up on these can mean smoother, suppler skin. If your skin is dry, prone to inflammation, and frequently dotted with white heads and black heads, you may be lacking essential fatty acids, nutrients that are crucial to the production of skin’s natural oil barrier. Without an adequate supply of EFAs, the skin produces a more irritating form of sebum, or oil, which can result in problems.
The solution, say skin experts, may be to balance two of the key EFAs, omega-3 and omega-6. While most folks get plenty of omega-6s (in baked goods, cooking oils, poultry, grains, and many other foods), omega-3s are often lacking. They’re found mostly in cold-water fish, including salmon, sardines, and mackerel, flax seed, and flax and safflower oils. Taking supplements, such as fish oil capsules or evening primrose oil, may also help keep your skin smoother and younger-looking.
Sources: Fatty fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel; foods fortified with vegetarian-based DHA
Ultraviolet rays in sunlight generate oxygen fragments called free radicals. These pierce delicate cell membranes and damage underlying structures such as collagen and elastic fibers, leading to visible signs of aging. UVB light penetrates the outer layers of the skin, causing sunburn, sunspots, rough texture and skin cancer; UVA light penetrates deeper skin layers, resulting in wrinkles.
Frequent sun exposure and smog deplete the skin’s antioxidants, though, and accumulating them in the skin can take up to three months. That makes boosting your intake of antioxidant-rich foods important so that you get additional protection from sunburn and free radical damage later on.
Vitamin E, a potent antioxidant, helps reduce the harmful effects of the sun on the skin. According to studies published by the AAD, taking 400 units of vitamin E daily appeared to reduce the risk of sun damage to cells as well as reduce the production of cancer-causing cells. Some studies show that when vitamins E and A are taken together, people show a 70% reduction in basal cell carcinoma, a common form of skin cancer.
Sources: Colorful fruits, vegetables, green tea, whole grains and nuts
Vitamin C is an important antioxidant defender of the skin and helps maintain collagen, the underlying supporting structure of skin. The combination of vitamins E and C is especially effective in reducing sunburn damage. Among the most important new dermatological discoveries is the power of vitamin C to counter the effects of sun exposure. It works by reducing the damage caused by free radicals, a harmful byproduct of sunlight, smoke, and pollution. Free radicals gobble up collagen and elastin, the fibers that support skin structure, causing wrinkles and other signs of aging.
Sources: Citrus fruits and juices, such as orange, grapefruit, and lime; kiwi, currants, cantaloupe, papaya, strawberries, broccoli and green peas