Every organ in the human body, big or small is vital for our survival and the skin is no different. As the biggest organ in the body, the skin’s function is a shell not only to prevent things from falling out, but it also serves as protection from outside harm.
The skin is the body’s first defense against bacteria, viruses, germs, pollution. Failing to maintain healthy skin could be detriment to one’s health. It’s continuous work in progress, but fortunately, the effort and steps needed to keep the skin healthy can be easily adapted into a daily routine.
Most of the things the skin needs are already in the food we eat or drink, like minerals, proteins, fat, fibers and vitamins. Most of these nutrients can be found within a whole and healthy meal. For example a plate of rice, chicken or meat, a side of vegetables or salad and fresh juice.
The Five Most Important Vitamins the Skin Needs
Note that these aren’t the only vitamins the skin needs, just some of the most important.
Vitamin A: (Provitamin A – carotenoids, and preformed vitamin A – retinoids)
Vitamin A is a fat soluble nutrient that needs lipids – fat – for the body to absorb. It is an anti-oxidant and anti-aging vitamin that helps with the production of collagen, the reduction of wrinkles and spots, as well as helps the skin stay firm and healthy. Vitamin A can be found in eggs, beef liver, broccoli, sweet potatoes, spinach, mango, and various other types of fruits and vegetables or animal based products.
Plant based vitamin A is the Provitamin A (the Carotenoids), and one of the most common is the Beta Carotene, which needs to be converted into an active form of vitamin A for the body to use. On the other hand, most animal based vitamin A is the preformed vitamin A, (the Retinoids), primarily called Retinol – a more easily absorbed form of vitamin A. Both Carotenoids and Retinoids are important for the skin and the health in general.
Vitamin C: (ascorbic acid):
Vitamin C is a water soluble nutrient that can dissolve in water. Water soluble vitamins need to be taken in a regular basis, since the body does not store it. Excessive water soluble vitamins will not be absorbed,the body will take only what it needs and expel the rest.
Vitamin C is also an anti-oxidant that is found in many top beauty products. It’s essential in fighting free radicals, producing collagen, keeping the skin firm, as well as fighting pigmentation that appears with age.
Vitamin C can be found in broccoli, tomatoes, sprouts, guava, kiwi, papaya, and many of the citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and grapefruits.
Note that the more a water soluble vitamin rich food is cooked, the fewer vitamins it retains. This is because the vitamin dissolves in water.
Vitamin K (K1 – Phytonadione; K2 – Menaquinone):
Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin. It is what helps the blood to clot. This means that without enough vitamin K, hemorrhage and heavy bleeding can occur. Vitamin K helps the body to heal wounds, bruises, burns, scars, stretch marks and spider veins.
Leafy green foods such as kale, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, parsley among others are rich sources of vitamin K. Also, beef, fish, liver, eggs, prunes and some cereals.
Vitamin E (Tocopherols and Tocotrienols):
Vitamin E is like vitamin A and vitamin K, a fat soluble vitamin. It is also an anti-oxidant, and it is effective in fighting free radicals – the result of age, harmful sunlight and pollution. Free radicals kill the collagen and elasticity within the skin, the two main agents that keep skin healthy. As a result, free radicals are one of the main causes for wrinkles, pigmentation and other skin conditions.
The more a person ages, the thinner the epidermis becomes, causing the skin to become more susceptible to damage. In general terms vitamin E bonds with free radicals to make them stable, helps reduce wrinkles caused by UV rays, and helps with elasticity of the skin. The result is smooth, healthy and radiant looking skin.
Foods rich in vitamin E are avocados, mango, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, nuts, seeds, vegetable oil, olives.
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid and Panthenol)
Vitamin B5 is, like vitamin C, a water soluble vitamin. It is a natural humectant, which means it absorbs moisture from the atmosphere and helps the skin to stay hydrated. It serves to stabilize the skin’s barrier by helping it to retain water. Vitamin B5 is found in many beauty products, such as creams, lotions, conditioners and shampoos. Vitamin B5 is also used in many acne fighting products.
Vitamin B5 can be found in legumes, broccoli, cabbage, fish – salmon, nuts, cheese, to name but a few.
The skin is a complex organ that needs lots of maintenance, and eating your greens is a good start but not always enough. Aside from a healthy nutrition, the skin also needs external care.
Here are a few tips to help take care of the skin:
- Use sunscreen with a SPF of at least fifteen. The sun’s UV rays are stronger between ten in the morning and four in the afternoon. Protecting your skin from the harmful rays is a necessary step, especially if you are going to be outdoors during these hours.
- There is no way to avoid water, as washing is necessary for the hygiene, however the body also needs its natural oils especially the face. It is recommended to wash no more than once a day –twice if your skin is oily to help retain natural oils.
- Avoid using soap on your face no matter what your skin type, it’ll only dry and irritate your skin. If you have oily skin, use a creamy cleanser to clean your face.
- Hot showers and hot baths may feel like heaven, especially during the winter months. However, hot water will deplete your skin from its natural oils and cause it to become dry. It is recommended to take short showers, or add a few tablespoons of essential oil to your tub like almond oil, coconut oil and grape seed oil.
- Use moisturizers. Make sure that whatever product you buy has at least some of the vitamins mentioned above.
- The skin accumulates dead cells on the surface and no amount of moisturizer and washing will clear them away. Make sure you use a grain free exfoliate or scrub, also be gentle with your skin.
- Exfoliating once or twice a week will help the growth of new, healthy skin cells, and will help the skin to better absorb moisturizers and gain a healthy glow.