Skin is the largest organ of the body and having glowing, blemish-free skin is created from within and is mainly down to your diet. Some people clearly have an easier time than others in terms of managing any skin conditions and there are of course genetic elements involved when it comes to how it behaves and how it ages.
There are some key nutrients that can really help improve the overall health and look of your skin. And at this time of year, when we tend to have more skin on show, it’s a great time to focus on the vitamins and minerals that can help support yours.
Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her three top nutrients to support your skin.
The B-vitamin, biotin, has actually become a celebrity over the last few years, in the skincare stakes! We are finding out more and more about its essential functions in skin health and how we can easily include more biotin into the daily diet, to great effect.
In terms of how it works, biotin essentially functions in the body as a co-factor helping to produce enzymes. It’s these enzyme reactions that underpin everything the body does. Biotin is used in cell growth and replication which is why it can be so helpful for the skin. Interestingly, a deficiency of biotin often presents as dry, scaly skin or dermatitis (an inflammatory skin condition).
Biotin is predominantly produced by the gut bacteria but if our good bacteria levels are not optimal (and that’s most of us) then it’s down to the daily diet (and supplementation) to give us what we need. Biotin is very rich in liver (which many of us don’t eat) but can also be found in soy-based foods, nuts, wholegrains, and lentils. Just like all the B-vitamins, it’s water-soluble so isn’t stored in the body, which makes supplements even more useful, especially if your skin isn’t behaving as you would like.
Zinc is one of our busiest minerals, being involved in over 200 enzyme reactions. It’s also found in very high concentrations in the skin and is involved in almost all body systems in some way, hence we can use it to very good effect for skin health.
Just like biotin, skin changes are often a sign of zinc deficiency and improvements in skin health can be quickly noticed when this deficiency is plugged.
Zinc is rich in many plant-based foods which is great news for vegetarians and vegans. Wholegrains, legumes, nuts, and seeds are good sources, but seafood (especially oysters) and red meat are great too.
There are various forms of vitamin A, the most active being retinal and retinoic acid. As with all vitamins, vitamin A provides many essential roles in the body including growth and repair, specifically of cell membranes, and this includes skin cell membranes.
Forms of retinoic acid have now been developed and are used very effectively in treating skin conditions but also in anti-ageing skin products. However, vitamin A plays a key role in overall skin health (and much more besides) so we need to ensure there is sufficient in the diet.
Another complication with vitamin A is that it’s only found in animal produce. The good news is that the body can convert beta-carotene found primarily in red, yellow and orange foods (carrots are great) into Vitamin A. However, some people have a genetic tendency not to convert as effectively as others. Deficiency symptoms can often be noted as poor immunity, since vitamin A plays an essential role, as well as troublesome skin conditions and problems with the mucous membranes generally.
Vitamin A is a very powerful antioxidant which helps protect the skin from sun damage and also supports the ageing process. All in all, it’s going to be of great benefit to the skin inside and out!
Use the power of nature by increasing your intake of these vitamins and minerals in your diet and help your skin to glow from the inside out!
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