There’s no shortage of topical lotions and beauty potions promising age-defying results. But there are no shortcuts. Radiant skin requires robust inner health and a lacklustre complexion can be a sign we need to pay more attention to what’s happening on the inside.
The speed at which our skin and other cells age is influenced by both extrinsic and intrinsic factors including sun exposure and ultraviolet radiation, smoking, environmental pollution, stress, inflammation, sleep deprivation, and poor nutrition. This means that we can help protect our skin from age-related damage by exercising regularly, avoiding excessive sun exposure, maintaining a healthy weight and having a balanced, low-stress lifestyle.
But to look healthy and radiant for our age, we also need to feed our skin from within. Research shows that nourishing your skin with a nutrient-rich, anti-inflammatory diet can help to minimise some of the visible signs of ageing. In fact, a study conducted by Dutch researchers and published in the Journal of American Academy of Dermatology found a correlation between a healthy diet and fewer facial wrinkles.
Cultivating radiant, well-hydrated and healthy skin therefore requires a well-balanced, wholefoods diet rich in phytonutrients (plant compounds), antioxidants (from brightly-coloured fruits and vegetables), vitamins, minerals and macronutrients such as healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, lean protein plus prebiotics and probiotics.
Here are some skin-loving vitamins and minerals to eat daily …
Vitamin A: Everyone knows vitamin A is essential for healthy vision, but it’s also a powerful antioxidant that’s important for skin renewal and can help to protect our skin from free radical damage, UV radiation and deliver a healthy glow. Animal sources of vitamin A include cod liver oil, liver, egg yolks, and organic butter. While plant sources of vitamin A include orange and yellow fruits and vegetables such as mangoes, papaya, pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes and also green leafy vegetables. As vitamin A is fat-soluble, make sure you eat these foods with a little healthy fat. And remember, wholefood sources are always best.
Vitamin C: Found in citrus fruits, rosehip, strawberries, pomegranates, broccoli, spinach and parsley, vitamin C is famous for boosting our immunity. But vitamin C is also essential for collagen production, which supports skin structure and helps repair age-related damage.
Vitamin D: This vitamin is actually a hormone that we synthesise through safe sun exposure (remember, you only need a few minutes a day). It keeps our bones and teeth strong, plus our skin cells and hair follicles healthy, all of which help to keep us looking and feeling youthful. Dietary sources of vitamin D can be found in fatty fish such as salmon, sardines and mackerel, egg yolks and fortified breakfast cereals and dairy products. The Beauty Chef’s bio-fermented BODY Inner Beauty Powder also contains organic shiitake mushrooms which provide 50 per cent of your daily intake of vitamin D!
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a powerful family of fat-soluble antioxidant compounds which may help to protect skin cells from free radical damage caused by excessive sun exposure, and assist in wound healing. Find vitamin E in walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, legumes, leafy greens, avocados, vegetables, and sunflower seeds.
Vitamin K: Another fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin K is essential for blood clotting, but research has also linked vitamin K deficiency to skin wrinkling because it plays a role in protecting elastin. You can find it in green leafy vegetables, lacto-fermented foods such as sauerkraut and natto as well as grass-fed butter, ghee and animal foods.
While minerals don’t get as much attention as vitamins, they’re also important beauty nutrients. Key minerals to include in our diet include calcium – from green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and tinned fish with bones – for beautiful hair, skin, nails and bones.
Magnesium is involved in more than 300 enzymatic processes in the body, including DNA replication and the synthesis of glutathione – our body’s master antioxidant. Some of the best sources of magnesium include green leafy veggies, nuts, seeds, seaweed and raw cacao.
Another powerful anti-ageing mineral is zinc which assists in wound healing and collagen synthesis, as well as calming inflammation – all good reasons to eat oysters, red meat and pumpkin seeds.
While slow-healing wounds, saggy skin, brittle nails and fine hair may indicate you need more of the trace mineral silica in your diet (found in celery, asparagus and strawberries), selenium also supports glutathione production, aids healing and may have photoprotective benefits. Find selenium in brown rice, eggs and Brazil nuts.
What are your favourite beauty nutrients? Let us know in the comments below!