Vitamins & Minerals for healthy skin

Taking care of your skin should be an essential part of your health regimen. It is, after all, your body’s largest organ. Good skincare starts with proper nutrition. It’s true that sun protection is the number-one anti-aging strategy, but your skin also needs nutrients to stay healthy and youthful. The best sources of a great number of skin-loving nutrients are fruits and vegetables. If you’re already eating plenty of your greens, chances are your skin is already well-nourished. But knowing which vitamin provides what benefits will help you understand what you should focus on more as far as your skin is concerned and maybe even look for these vitamins in skin care products for additional support.

While your skincare routine plays a part in your skin’s condition, a nutrient-packed diet works wonders to maintain healthy skin from the inside out. What actually helps though? Here is our guide to the eight Vitamins and Minerals that keep skin looking and feeling good.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A protects against photodamage, which results from prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays (e.g. from the sun). Photodamage contributes to premature ageing and cellulite (i.e. loss of skin elasticity). Vitamin A promotes the growth of collagen, which keeps skin firm and wrinkle-free, and so helps fight sunburn damage. Vitamin A has a unique role in promoting skin health, as it suppresses the glands that produce oils and decreases the occurrence of acne. It is also responsible for the growth and regeneration of skin cells, which help form the protective layers of the skin. These protective layers guard against certain skin conditions and diseases, such as psoriasis and dry skin. Vitamin A is therefore necessary for the maintenance and repair of skin tissue. Consequently, poor vitamin A status may lead to a dry, flaky complexion.

Yellow fruits and leafy green vegetables are rich sources of vitamin A. Additionally, applying creams containing vitamin A to the skin can enhance healthy skin and help control acne.

Vitamin B complex

Of all the B vitamins, biotin (vitamin B7) is the single most important found in the skin. Biotin deficiency may cause dermatitis (an itchy, scaly skin reaction). Biotin is abundant in many foods, including bananas, eggs, oatmeal and rice. The body is also able to make some biotin on its own.

Topical cream preparations containing B vitamins can help give skin an almost instant healthy glow, while hydrating cells and increasing overall tone. Niacin (vitamin B3) in particular helps skin retain moisture, so creams containing this nutrient can help your complexion look plumper and younger in a very short time. Niacin also has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe dry, irritated skin. In higher concentrations, it can also work as a lightening agent to even out blotchy skin tone. Applying topical vitamin B has been shown to dramatically improve ageing in human skin.

Vitamin C

Your body cannot make its own vitamin C, but it is necessary for collagen maintenance. The main components that support the structure of the skin, collagen and elastin, are destroyed by free radicals, leading to the development of wrinkles.

Getting enough vitamin C will therefore help maintain healthy skin. Rich sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits and vegetables such as oranges, lime and lemon. Strawberries, tomatoes, sweet peppers, green peas, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower and leafy greens are also good sources.

You may also apply topical vitamin C cream to stimulate collagen production. The best creams for healthy skin are formulations that contain the L-ascorbic acid form of vitamin C, the only form that can penetrate skin layers and enhance collagen production.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help protect the fat component of the skin from the damaging effects of free radicals. Applying body lotions that contain vitamin E can help protect against the effects of sun exposure, and can soothe dry, rough skin. In combination with vitamin C, vitamin E also provides protection from the damaging effect of ultraviolet (UV light). Additionally, factors associated with DNA damage in the skin appear to be reduced with improved antioxidant vitamins status. Vitamin E helps slow down the conversion of soluble collagen, which is predominant in youthful skin, into insoluble collagen, which is characteristic of ageing skin. Supplementation with natural vitamin E can improve skin texture.

Rich dietary sources of vitamin E are vegetable oils, peanuts, seeds (e.g. sunflower), olives, broccoli, spinach and asparagus.

Supplementation with vitamin E may be necessary to help you get enough vitamin E. However, large doses of vitamin E can be harmful and should be avoided. To be on the safe side, the recommended daily intake of vitamin E is 400 IU or less.

Selenium

Selenium is a mineral antioxidant that will help minimise damage caused by ultraviolet light. Scientific evidence suggests that selenium plays a key role in skin cancer prevention. Taken either as a supplement or used in a cream, this mineral helps protect skin from sun damage. If you spend any time in the sun, selenium could help reduce your chance of burning.

The best dietary sources of selenium include tuna, wheat germ, sesame seeds, nuts, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, whole grain cereals, seafood, garlic and eggs.

Copper

In the presence of vitamin C and zinc, copper helps promote elastin growth. Research shows that applying copper-rich creams can make the skin firm and help restore some elasticity. However, copper deficiency is rare, and supplemental copper could cause problems.

Zinc

Zinc is a mineral that helps maintain collagen and elastin fibres, thereby helping to prevent sagging and wrinkles. It also links together amino acids needed to form collagen.

Taken in the diet or used topically, zinc works to clear skin by taming oil production. It may be effective in controlling the formation of acne lesions, or help clear those already on your skin.

Food sources of zinc include eggs, seafood, turkey, whole grains, nuts, mushrooms, oysters, lean meat and poultry.