So, when it comes to skin health, we know that having a good morning and evening skincare routine that suits our skin type and skin goals is essential, but topical skincare is only one piece of the puzzle! Nourishing our skin from the inside will amplify the results of your expensive topicals ten fold!
And while there is no magic supplement that you can just pop with your morning coffee that will give you the skin of your dreams, the nutrients that are associated with skin health are the same ones that are linked to our overall health. Often our skin can be a reflection of how nutrient dense our diet is.
There isn’t one particular diet that has been shown to resolve all of our skincare concerns, but there is research to support the importance of essential fatty acids and antioxidants in skin health and this is where the mediteranean style diet comes into play. The Mediteranean style diet is not restrictive, it promotes the inclusion of an abundance of fruits and vegetables, a variety of healthy fats from foods such as; avocados, olive oil, nuts and seeds, wholegrains and plenty of fish. It provides all of the nutrients that are essential for skin health.
Omega-3s are essential fatty acids which means that our body cannot make them so we need to get them from our diet. Omega-3 fatty acids act as an internal moisturiser for the skin, giving it that plumpness that we are all longing after. They can serve to regulate the skin’s oil production, improve balanced hydration, subdue breakouts and minimize signs of aging. Omega-3s can also help soften rough, dry skin and have a soothing effect on irritation and dermatitis.
The omega-3s that are most bioavailable (most easily used) in our body are those that come from marine sources like salmon and mackerel. Despite living on an island with a very plentiful fish supply the average Irish person’s diet tends to be lacking in fish. If you don’t like fish or tend not to eat it very often, consider supplementing with a good quality Omega-3 fish oil supplement.
If you’re vegan you will be able to get some omega-3 fatty acids from chia seeds, walnuts and flaxseeds however, our body needs these sources in greater amounts to have the same effect as fish sources. There are vegan omega-3 supplements available that are derived from algae sources, this is the only marine source of omega-3 that is suitable for vegans.
2. Vitamin A
Vitamin A plays a vital role in cell regeneration. It’s an ingredient that you may be familiar with from your topical skincare products, where it’s often included in various forms such as; retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate and retinoic acid. It has been dubbed the holy grail of skincare for its ability to promote skin cell renewal which gives the skin that supple healthy glow by replacing older, duller cells with new ones. Toxicological research also indicates that retinol is effective at stimulating collagen production and reducing wrinkles when used topically. Vitamin A helps to speed up healing, prevent breakouts, support the skin’s immune system and promote natural moisturising – which means it helps to hydrate the skin effectively, giving it a radiant glow. It assists in promoting and maintaining a healthy dermis and epidermis; the top two layers of your skin.
Vitamin A plays this same, regenerative role within the body by promoting cell rejuvenation. You can amplify the effects of your vitamin A skincare by including quality sources such as dairy, egg yolks, oily fish and plant based sources such as; green vegetables, carrots, sweet potatoes in your diet. Vitamin A supplements are also available, however these or topical vitamin A skincare should not be used if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
3. Vitamin E
Like vitamin A, vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps minimize oxidative stress in the body. It’s an antioxidant, making it effective at combating the effects of free radicals produced by the metabolism of food and toxins in the environment. Vitamin E may be beneficial at reducing ultraviolet (UV) damage to skin through its ability to absorb the energy from UV light. Thus, it plays important roles in photoprotection, preventing UV-induced free radical damage to skin. Vitamin E may also have related anti-inflammatory roles in the skin and is normally provided to the skin through the sebum. Topical application can also supply the skin with vitamin E and may provide specific vitamin E forms that are not available from the diet.
Vitamin E is actually a nutrient that a lot of people are actually low in, some great dietary sources include; oily fish like mackerel and salmon, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and avocados
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid) is a potent, water-soluble antioxidant meaning it helps to prevent damage caused by oxidative stress and free radicals in the body. It also plays a role in collagen formation which is one of the primary structural proteins of the skin – it gives skin its elasticity and that youthful suppleness that we are all looking for! Dietary and topical ascorbic acid have beneficial effects on skin cells, and some studies have shown that vitamin C may help prevent and treat ultraviolet (UV)-induced photodamage.
Vitamin C is a normal skin constituent that is found at high levels in both the dermis and epidermis. Aging causes a decline in vitamin C content in both the epidermis and dermis and excessive exposures to UV light or pollutants such as cigarette smoke and pollution may also lower vitamin C content, primarily in the epidermis.
Ensuring your diet is rich in quality sources of vitamin C will help to counteract this decline in vitamin C levels. Despite what you may think, vitamin C is not only found in oranges and there are in fact much better sources, like green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale, tomatoes, kiwis, red and yellow peppers and potatoes.
Healthy skin is hydrated skin! Aiming to get your 2 litres of water every day will do wonders for your skin health (alongside an array of other benefits!). Without adequate water intake, skin appears duller, and wrinkles and pores more prominent. Proper hydration levels help the skin to become plump and improves its elasticity meaning it’s less likely to crack and have irritations and blemishes – pass me my BPA-free, reusable bottle rn! Our personal favourites are from Narcissips.
So, nutrition might not be the quick skin fix you were looking for but it is what will make all the difference in the long-term, not only to your skin but your overall health! It comes down to having a diet that is consistently rich in all of these nutrients on a daily and weekly basis – incorporating them the odd time unfortunately won’t have the same effect. But, now that you know the fundamentals .. you’ll be glowing in no time!