It’s been said before that what one eats has a big effect on one’s skin, but what exactly does that mean? Should we all swear off fries for life and stick to a boring diet if we want to avoid breakouts and wrinkles? Not exactly. The truth is, everyone’s skin is different, and different foods will affect each person differently, so the only real answer to the diet-skin dynamic is to see how your body reacts to certain foods. That being said, certain vitamins and minerals can certainly help your skin concerns no matter what type you have and taking care to get these will surely prove beneficial for your health and your complexion. Here are 10 vitamins and minerals that were awesome for skin- and how to get them.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, and I only speak from research and personal experience.
1. Vitamin A
Often containing beta-carotene (a red-orange pigment found in vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes), vitamin A does a magnificent job of protecting skin against sun damage from the inside out- and thus making sure skin cells stay youthful and plump for as long as possible. But unlike synthetic versions of the vitamin such as the concentrations found in retinol, ingesting vitamin A from natural sources allows your body to naturally metabolize the proper amount. Plus, the vitamin’s a superstar when it comes to combatting acne- just by eating a few more apricots or some spinach, your body uses the vitamin to naturally flush out any extra estrogen- a hormone which, in excess, can wreak havoc on skin.
2. Vitamin B6
The brain has so much more to do with our appearance than we often realize! The hypothalamus and pituitary glands, located at the undersurface of the brain, both play crucial roles in regulating hormones throughout the body and thus, in keeping skin healthy. By fueling your brain with foods rich in B6 such as red meat, eggs, spinach, and nuts, you’re giving your body what it needs for proper brain, red cell, and nerve function, which will, in turn, keep your skin looking bright and clear.
3. Vitamin C
The same types of foods you were told in Elementary school would help fight colds can also contribute to a glowing complexion. Vitamin C works hard to fight free radicals, which are often associated with premature aging or much worse, skin cancer. It’s even used in lots of facial products as a way to lighten dark spots and pigmentation left from acne or too much sun exposure. Plus, the acidity found in many vitamin-C rich foods such as oranges, berries, and tomatoes is wonderful for combatting excessive oil production (which we know all too well).
4. Vitamin E
If you’re experiencing a bad skin week (or month), fear not. According to WebMD, the skin “regenerates itself every 27 days” (https://www.webmd.com/beauty/cosmetic-procedures-overview-skin#1), so you can rest assured knowing that a couple of zits are just a temporary thing. While the skin is constantly turning over new skin cells on its own, vitamin E is a magnificent aid in helping regenerate the skin as quickly and as healthily as possible. In a way, it’s almost like a natural exfoliant and moisturizer all in one! By adding more grains, seeds, greens, and vegetable oils (which would all go terrifically in a salad), you’ll be well on your way to having your best skin yet.
The same mineral that helps babies grow in the womb can prove crucial to maintaining optimal skin health. Although often confused with Folic Acid, Folate is completely natural and easy to digest. And the best part is that you can find it in foods that you may even be eating daily! Folate aids in healthy metabolism (thereby getting you the nutrients you need to have healthy skin), hair growth, energy, and can even combat cold sores (which, visible to others or not, are the worst). You can get your folate fix by amping up your pea, mushroom, pork, citrus, and tomato intake.
Since Magnesium is fantastic for heart and mental health (helping to reduce anxiety and insomnia), making sure you have a fair amount in your diet will in turn help treat your skin issues. Pimples and under-eye bags can often result from lack of proper sleep and excess stress, so in addition to staying hydrated and getting enough sleep, eating more Magnesium-rich foods like bananas, broccoli, oatmeal, and salmon can help get your skin picture-ready. Want a Magnesium-laden dinner tonight? Fix a salmon steak with garlic and lemon (both rich in vitamin C as well), a bit of sautéed spinach, and some quinoa.
The same mineral used in many major sunscreens does a remarkable job of keeping our immune systems strong (which helps fight antibodies and bad bacteria which could cause some unsightly problems) and regulating our hormone levels. And since both acne and rosacea are inflammatory dermal reactions, zinc may be just the underdog you need to help fight both. Not only does this mineral fight flare-ups at the source, but also helps control oil production and speeds up collagen production, clearing up both active breakouts and the marks they leave behind. To get more zinc in your diet, turn to pumpkin seeds, chickpeas, lamb, and beef.
While an excess of Iodine has been said to be a cause of acne, a lack of it may be just as bad. The human body needs Iodine to secrete the hormones necessary for bodily functions and reactions, as it plays a major role in overall thyroid health (a gland located at the front of the neck which helps manage metabolic, brain, and heart health). So, long story short, get just enough salt and seafood in your diet, but don’t overdo it!
You may have had an idea about how important Potassium was, but did you know that it’s the third most abundant mineral in the body? Not only does the mineral help to regulate muscle contractions, fluids, and nerve signals (thereby improving responses to stimuli), but it’s also a natural electrolyte, as it produces positively charged ions when placed in water. Since about 98% of the Potassium in your body is found in your cells (of which 80% are in muscle cells), increasing your Potassium intake (or at least making sure you get enough) will greatly help the overall health of your cells and help your body properly respond to outside sources, such as naturally producing antibodies to fight diseases. You can find Potassium in foods like potatoes, bananas, avocado, and white beans.
The last vitamin/mineral on our list is Niacin, which acts as an opener for your blood vessels and improves your circulation. More blood flow means more nutrients and antibodies to the skin cells, which means better skin days aren’t too far in your future! Try eating peanuts, tuna, wheat bran, and turkey to get your Niacin fix.
Which vitamins and minerals do you try to get daily? Do you have any foods you swear by to help out problematic skin? Tell us in the comments below!
featured image source: https://unsplash.com/photos/MZSJWo6C4Lg
Anna Livia is a Junior Communications student at John Paul The Great Catholic University. Her hobbies include reading how-to guides on being an adult, exploring the many pockets around North Country (San Diego) and attempting whatever new pasta recipes appear on Pinterest. She hails form Los Angeles but aspires to live in Houston one day for a career in Magazine Editing (not to mention the low housing prices). Her perfect afternoon would include cats of any kind, hot cider, and Malcolm In The Middle.