Keeping our skin youthful and radiant becomes more and more of a challenge the older we get. As time goes by, our skin naturally loses its elasticity, moisture and texture.
The good news is that there are plenty of steps you can take to help keep your skin looking young and healthy. As well as making sure to drink plenty of water, including the following four nutrients in your diet can offer huge benefits.
The antioxidant properties of vitamin C and its role in collagen synthesis makes vitamin C a vital molecule for skin health. An optimal vitamin C intake offers significant benefits to skin cells, and some studies have shown that vitamin C may help prevent and heal skin damage caused by ultraviolet rays from the sun (1).
Some studies have found a link between higher intakes of vitamin C and improved skin appearance, with notable decreases in skin wrinkling (2). Several studies have also reported that higher intakes of dietary vitamin C can reduce the risk of dry skin (3).
Some excellent sources of vitamin C include oranges, strawberries, broccoli, peppers and kale. Supplements are an excellent way to boost your vitamin C levels. I love Patrick Holford’s Immune C; it’s vitamin C paired with zinc, which is another skin health powerhouse – as I outline in the next point.
Zinc is an essential mineral that assists in wound healing, as well as providing anti-inflammatory benefits and protecting against UV radiation. Studies report that having an optimal level of zinc in your diet may help to reduce acne as effectively as antibiotics such as tetracyclines (4).
Plant-based dietary sources of zinc include pumpkin seeds and cashew nuts. To receive the highest amount of zinc from cashew nuts it is important to ‘activate’ (soak) them.
A diet high in omega-3 fats may decrease inflammation, and reduce the incidence of acne and other skin issues by decreasing insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) (5). Adding foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids to your diet may result in smoother, younger-looking skin with a reduction in inflammatory skin conditions such acne and psoriasis.
Plant-based sources of omega-3 include flaxseeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds. If you don’t eat fish it can be difficult to get enough Omega 3 in your diet; however, there are lots of excellent Omega-3 supplements out there. Make sure to choose one that offers a minimum of 400mg EPA and 200mg DHA. My favourite is Eskimo Brainsharp.
Ok, so this isn’t really a nutrient, but I can’t write an article on skin health without mentioning the importance of a good night’s sleep for maintaining healthy skin.
A lack of sleep increases levels of stress hormones in the body. This raises inflammation, which leads to breakouts, accelerated aageing(6), and wrinkles. During sleep, the body works to repair and rejuvenate its skin tissue. 8 hours per night is recommended; to ensure optimal sleep make sure to avoid all caffeine 4-6 hours going to bed.