Nutrition and Healthy Skin
Fancy clothing paired with classy shoes or skilfully applied make up, nothing can beat the charm of glowing skin. The secret lies in every kitchen. The food we consume daily plays an important role in keeping our skin soft, smooth and glowing. It holds a place much above any cream, gel or soap bar kept in bathroom.
Nutrition and its effect on skin has always been an interesting topic for research, scientists and physicians throughout the centuries worldwide. According to WHO reports nutrition is among the most important parameter that is involved in skin health and associated conditions. Many Dermatologists in collaboration with health practitioner made many attempts to improve skin health and beauty by changing the diet or by various nutrient supplements1. A study done by Boelsma and colleagues in year 2001 reviewed the effects of vitamins, carotenoids and fatty acids supplementation in optimizing skin condition and curing or preventing skin infections and concluded that nutritional factors show potential beneficial actions on the skin.
In this article we will discuss in the series, how vitamins and minerals from a nutritious whole foods diet can treat acne, wrinkles and various other skin problems.
- Water- Water is a large component of the human body, our skin is 64 percent water and it plays a key role in normal physiological balance. Several studies 3,4,5,6 have suggested that the water supplied by regular food and beverages which includes the water produced by the cellular metabolism, is not sufficient to meet the daily requirements. Unlike other essential nutrients, daily recommendations for water consumption are often considered secondary, and a clear definition of daily guidelines for water requirement does not exist. However, some indicative recommendations were highlighted in certain studies. The “Dietary Guidelines specified for Americans” report7 states that an adequate water intake of 3.7 L/Day for men and 2.7 L/day for women (between 19 to 30 years old adults) whereas European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) indicate dietary reference values of water as 2.0 l/day for men and 2.5 L/day for women.
- Vitamin A – It is an antioxidant which protects skin against photo aging and fortifies each cell against damage by exposure to free- radicals. Vitamin A (topical retinol) is considered to be improving fine wrinkles associated with aging. Thus, vitamin A treats the signs of aging or photo aging. Consumption of adequate amounts of vitamin- A helps in improve the texture, builds up moisture and elasticity of your skin. Low Vitamin A level results in skin keratinized and scaly, it leads to dry, flaky complexion and the mucus secretion is suppressed.
Sources:Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, and therefore it is required to be consumed with fat to attain
optimal absorption. It can be found in colourful fruits and vegetables. High vitamin A foods include roots and tubers like sweet potatoes, carrots, dark green leafy vegetables like lettuce, dried apricots, fish, liver, and tropical fruits. The daily value for Vitamin A is 5000 international units (IU).
- Vitamin- D. It is also known as the sunshine vitamin. The main function of Vitamin- D in body is related to calcium absorption but the positive effect isn’t just limited to bone health. Studies reveals the positive effect of vitamin – D in treatment of “Psoriasis”9. Vitamin D is produced in our body naturally through direct exposure to sunlight. Just a 10 minute of sun exposure in a day is plenty, especially if you’re fair-skinned. But for places with less sun light consumption of food rich or fortified with Vitamin D is needed.
Sources: Besides getting vitamin D through sun, you can also get it through certain foods. National Institute of Health (NIH) recommends that in order to ensure adequate levels of the vitamin D in your blood both the sources need consideration. Foods that contain vitamin D include: egg yolk, shrimp, salmon, Sardines, milk (fortified), cereal (fortified), yogurt (fortified), orange juice (fortified).
- Vitamin K- It helps in treating a variety of skin conditions. The role of vitamin K is not only limited to blood clotting but creams with vitamin K can also help in treatment of skin irritations such as spider veins, scars, dark circles under eye and stretch marks. It even helps in treatment of burn marks. Without adequate vitamin K in your diet, calcium can be deposited in your skin’s elastin fibres which harden and causes wrinkles. Vitamin K is also requited for the formation of certain proteins which helps in maintaining healthy skin cells their deficiency can cause problems like acne.
Source: It is a vitamin found in Brussels sprouts, leafy green vegetable, broccoli. Consuming some healthy fats can also help in improving the Vitamin K level, The Japanese fermented soy dish natto is usually recognized as the best food source of vitamin K2.
- Vitamin C- It is the most familiar nutrient know for the benefit of skin. There are ample of products available in the market comprising Vitamin C as the key ingredient claims to reduce the signs of aging on the skin. Vitamin C is effective in skin care because of two things: its antioxidant properties and its importance in collagen synthesis. If taken orally Vitamin C can enhance the effectiveness of sunscreens applied to your skin for protection from the harmful UV rays emitted by sun. It does this by decreasing cell damage and helping the healing process of bodily wounds. The Vital role of Vitamin C in the body’s natural collagen synthesis helps in fending off the signs of aging. It heals the damaged skin and, in some cases, reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
Sources: As the availability of Vitamin C is ample in the food products the dietary requirement can be achieved easily, hence the incorporation of Vitamin C supplements is not required in most of the cases.
Fruits and vegetables are the best sources of Vitamin C. Citrus fruits like grapefruit, oranges and their juices, as well as green, red pepper and kiwi fruit contain a good amount of Vitamin C. Other fruits and vegetables which include Vitamin C are broccoli, strawberries, cantaloupes, baked potatoes and tomatoes.
The care should be taken while processing the food rich in Vitamin C content as prolonged storage and cooking (Steaming, Microwaving) results in reducing the content of the nutrient.
1. Burton JL. Diet and dermatology. BMJ. 1989; 298:770–771.
2. Boelsma E, Hendriks HFJ, Roza L. Nutritional skin care: health effects of micronutrients and fatty acids.Am J Clin Nutr. 2001; 73:853–864.
3. Cordain L. Implications for the role of diet in acne. Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2005; 24:84–91.
4. Jequier E, Constant F. Water as an essential nutrient: the physiological basis of hydration. Eur J Clin Nutr.2010;64:115–123.
5. Sawka MN, Cheuvront SN, Iii RC. Human water needs. Nutr Rev. 2005;63: S30–S39.
6. Thornton SN. Thirst and hydration: physiology and consequences of dysfunction.
7. US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010. 7th ed. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office; Dec, 2010.
8. Panel E, Nda A. Scientific opinion on dietary reference values for water EFSA J. 2010 8(3):1–48. http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/efsajournal/doc/1459.pdf.
9. National Psoriasis Foundation USA. Could what you eat affect your disease? 2016. https://www.psoriasis.org/treating-psoriasis/complementary-and-alternative/diet-and-nutrition/vitamins-and-supplements