When you think of a skin care regimen, your first thought might be cleanser, toner, moisturizer.
But the best skin care begins in the kitchen. You’re probably aware that a diet high in highly processed foods and sugary foods can lead to breakouts, but have you thought about which foods can help combat those breakouts, boost your skin elasticity and slow the pace of wrinkles?
Today we’re sharing the vitamins you need for optimal skin health, which vitamins provide which benefits and where you can find those benefits in the food world.
Many dermatologists prescribe skin care products that contain Vitamin A, and for good reason. Vitamin A has been shown to be an effective wrinkle-zapper. But think again before you pick up a Vitamin A supplement. You can get too much vitamin A from supplements, which can be toxic for the body, so stick to dietary sources of the vitamin.
Foods that are rich in Vitamin A include orange- and yellow-fleshed vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes and butternut squash, all of which are favorites here at Hungryroot! Other plant-based sources include leafy greens like spinach and kale as well as fruits such as cantaloupe, mango and papaya.
Antioxidant-rich Vitamin E boosts skin health by (a) maintaining Vitamin A stores and (b) fighting damage from free radicals on a cellular level. Vitamin E is useful in fighting skin dryness and adding moisture, treating acne and protecting against sun damage.
You can find Vitamin E in nuts and seeds, particularly almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts and sunflower seeds. For instance, 1 serving of almonds provides nearly 40% of your daily Vitamin E needs. You can also find this beauty-boosting vitamin in avocado, olives, spinach, asparagus, sweet potatoes.
Vitamin C is essential for skin health because it helps create collagen, the primary structural protein found in connective tissue that keeps skin firm and healthy. We lose connective tissues on a daily basis due to free radical damage and ordinary wear and tear (e.g., exercising) and therefore our bodies need to regularly produce collagen. Vitamin C is intimately involved in almost every step of the collagen formation process. Vitamin C has also shown to aid in anti-aging efforts, and some studies have found that women with lower Vitamin C intake are more likely to have dry, wrinkled skin.
Additionally, due to its high concentration of antioxidants, Vitamin C can help the skin in recovering from weather and sun damage and may lend it a softer, smoother texture.
Vitamin C is found in an abundance in the plant-based world, so a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is the easiest way to get on the healthy skin train. Here are some notable Vitamin C standouts.*
- Broccoli: 81% DV calcium in 1 cup chopped
- Brussels Sprouts: 75% DV calcium in 1 cup
- Guava: 125% DV in 1 medium fruit
- Kiwi: 64% in 1 medium fruit
- Red or pink grapefruit: 64% DV calcium in 1/2 medium fruit
- Strawberries: 141% DV calcium in 1 cup whole berries
- Yellow Bell Pepper: 159% DV calcium in 10 strips
When it comes to skin health, it’s not just your skin that matters. Below your skin lies bone, and maintaining bone health is critical for maintaining skin health. In fact, bone loss is a key contributor to aging, as loss of bone can lead to a sagging appearance in your skin.
To maintain your bone structure and preserve your youthful face, you’ll need to get adequate Vitamin D. Sun exposure is the easiest way to get Vitamin D, but if it’s winter or you live in a northern climate, the sun’s UV rays might not be strong enough to deliver sufficient Vitamin D.
Most plant-based sources of Vitamin D come from fortified foods, such as cereals and orange juice, but you can also get Vitamin D from mushrooms and certain forms of tofu. And if you eat animal proteins, fatty fish, egg yolks and some dairy products are good sources of Vitamin D.
Since it can be hard to get enough Vitamin D from diet alone and adequate sun exposure is dependent on climate and season, a Vitamin D supplement can be useful for many.
Looking to improve the appearance of your skin? Vitamin K may be able to help. Vitamin K helps your blood coagulate, keeps collagen intact and is essential in healing wounds and bruises. More specifically, it’s been shown to combat skin issues caused by circulatory problems, such as under-eye dark circles, spider veins, stretch marks and scars.
Unsurprisingly, leafy green vegetables, an all-around nutritional powerhouse, are the richest source of Vitamin K. For instance, in just a half cup of cooked kale, you’ll get several times the daily amount of Vitamin K you need. And in just 1 little sprig of parsley, you’ll get over 100% of your daily needs.
Other sources of Vitamin K include cruciferous veggies like cabbage and Brussels sprouts, as well as cucumbers, prunes and blackberries.
What are your tricks for healthy, glowing skin? Let us know in the comments below!