Friday, November 21, 2008

Is the Beautiful Skin Diet Next?

You most likely have heard you are what you eat, but did you know that same principle may apply to skin health, too? It’s true. Your diet might have a lot to do with the condition of your skin, and vitamins and antioxidants as well as other nutrients, can play major roles in skin health.

Karen E. Burke, Ph.D. of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s dermatology department says that vitamins C and E as well as selenium can support the skin’s natural repair systems against free radical damage. Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, red peppers and broccoli, while tasty sources of vitamin E include whole grains and nuts such as almonds and hazelnuts. You can get selenium from cod, turkey, and Brazil nuts.

But these do not stand alone in how to maximize beautiful, healthy skin. Vitamin A is also important for skin because, like vitamins C and E, it acts as a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin A can be found in dark orange vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and winter squash as well as dark green veggies such as broccoli, spinach, and kale.

Vitamin B plays a role in skin health as well because the B vitamins are essential for body cell health—including the skin cells. A vitamin B deficiency can lead to itchy, dry skin, so it’s important to get enough foods rich in the B vitamins including fish, eggs, whole milk, chicken, and whole grains.

Additionally, the natural antioxidant coenzyme Q10 can help cells grow and can protect them from free radical damage. Interestingly enough, coQ10 levels generally drop as we age and this drop is believed to add to skin’s aging process. Good dietary sources of CoQ10 include: sardines, mackerel, heart, liver, beef, lamb, eggs, spinach, broccoli, peanuts, wheat germ, and whole grains.

And don’t forget those healthy fats—such as omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s can help produce and preserve the skin's natural oil barrier which is essential to keeping skin hydrated, plumper, and younger looking. Foods high in omega-3s to look for include salmon, flaxseeds, nuts, and high omega-3 eggs.

And here’s some good news that is sure to put a smile on your healthy-skinned face: chocolate might even help improve your skin. In fact, a German study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that women who drank hot cocoa with high flavonoid concentration had smoother and softer skin than those who drank cocoa with a lower flavonoid concentration. (But be sure to not overdo it, chocolate lovers!)

The bottom line is that a healthy diet can support skin health. What a delicious way to love the skin you’re in!

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