Lines and wrinkles, crow’s feet, and other imperfections often seem like the inevitable consequences of growing older.
But your skin does more than reveal the effects of aging. As the largest organ in your body, this is your first line of defense to protect against potential threats including ultraviolet (UV) irradiation, chemical stress, and bacterial infection.
At the same time, aging can take its toll on your skin, and nowhere does that become more apparent than on your face. Sunspots, wrinkles, very dry skin, and a worn-out look are signs that your face is aging faster than you are.
You don’t have to surrender your skin to the wrinkles that come with aging. Maintaining glowing, vibrant skin doesn’t require expensive chemical peels, triple-digit skincare regimens, or hours at a day spa.
Healthy Lifestyle, Healthy Skin
How you eat and live can have a dramatic effect on preventing wrinkles and other blemishes that can take their toll as we grow older.
Take sunlight: A little bit of sun can be healthy to make vitamin D. While your skin can make vitamin D from exposure to sunlight, too much can have the opposite effect, contributing to wrinkles, age spots, and even skin cancer.
Conversely, smoking in any amount is also bad news for your skin and overall health. Among its damage, smoking damages the fibers that give your skin strength and elasticity.
But the true secret to healthy, glowing skin comes from within. What nourishes your skin will nourish your entire body, and a healthy diet provides the nutrients that nourish your skin.
Collagen Boosts Skin Strength
If you want better skin, start with collagen.
The most abundant protein in your body, collagen acts as a type of scaffolding to provide strength and structure to connective tissues including bones, muscles, tendons, and your skin. In fact, one-third of the protein in your body is collagen.
Your body can synthesize collagen from the amino acids in protein-rich foods including wild-caught fish and grass-fed beef. Bone broth is also an excellent source of collagen-building amino acids. Collagen supplements have also gained popularity lately.
Our Core and Advanced Nutrition Plans contain sufficient amounts of collagen-building amino acids as well as other core nutrients that help synthesize collagen and support healthy skin.
These nutrients — vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and trace minerals — create a solid foundation to support healthy, glowing skin.
Among them, these five nutrients play key roles in your skin and healthy aging. Here’s why, and how to get more of the foods that contain these nutrients into your diet.
Key Anti-aging Nutrients That Nourish Skin
In animal foods, vitamin A comes as retinol, the active form. Animal-based foods rich in vitamin A include beef or lamb liver. (You’re probably not eating those regularly.) Others, such as wild-caught salmon and goat cheese, also contain some vitamin A.
You’re more likely to get vitamin A from plant foods. Carotenoids, which your body converts into retinol, give plants their green color and some fruits and vegetables a red or yellow color.
Among its duties, vitamin A helps maintain the integrity and function of surface tissues including your respiratory tract lining, gut, bladder, and skin.
This fat-soluble vitamin:
- Supports the daily replacement of skin cells
- Prevents UV irradiation-mediated skin damage
- Helps prevent or treat psoriasis, ichthyosis, and acne.
Researchers attribute vitamin A deficiencies with atopic dermatitis and delayed wound healing.
As with all fat-soluble vitamins, you should eat foods rich in vitamin A with some healthy dietary fat. Combine spinach, for instance, with a hard-boiled egg or some grass-fed beef. Overcooking and direct light can both destroy a food’s vitamin A content.
1. Dark green, leafy vegetables. Rich in antioxidant-boosting carotenoids.
2. Egg yolks. Of course, you’ll eat the whole egg, but don’t throw out the yolks! They provide a rich source of retinol.
3. Sweet potatoes. Whether you eat them mashed or whole, add a little grass-fed butter to fully absorb the fat-soluble carotenoids.
This water-soluble vitamin does double duty as a powerful antioxidant that lowers inflammation for healthy, glowing skin.
Vitamin C is also a precursor to synthesize collagen. In fact, sufficient vitamin C can increase collagen synthesis to repair damaged skin.
As an antioxidant, vitamin C helps prevent the oxidative stress that plays a major role in the aging process and its impact on your skin. Vitamin C can help prevent and treat ultraviolet (UV)-induced damage.
Among its other skin-supporting roles, vitamin C can improve wound healing and prevent dry skin.
As with many other nutrients, vitamin C works best as a team along with other antioxidants including vitamin E and zinc.
Best Foods to Get Vitamin C
1. Berries. All of these are winners, including strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries. Low in sugar and high in dietary fiber and nutrients, these are all vitamin C superstars.
2. Cruciferous vegetables. These include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Try sauteing with a little garlic and extra-virgin coconut oil!
3. Leafy greens. Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are incredibly versatile. You can eat them raw in salads, sauteed as a side dish, or disguised in smoothies.
This fat-soluble vitamin provides anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits to support your immune system, cell function, and skin health.
As an antioxidant and powerful free-radical scavenger, vitamin E can help reduce UV damage to support healthy, glowing skin. Vitamin E can also help improve skin conditions including acne and psoriasis.
You can also find a topical vitamin E, which makes a good moisturizer for dry, patchy skin.
- Wild-caught fish including salmon. A good source of vitamin E plus other skin-supporting nutrients including protein and omega-3 fatty acids.
- Almonds. These nutrient rock stars include vitamin E, protein, fiber, and healthy fat.
- Sunflower seeds. Another crunchy, delicious vitamin E source. One ounce packs 66 percent of your daily value (DV) for this fat-soluble nutrient.
This underrated mineral, which about half of Americans are deficient in, plays a role in over 300 enzymes systems. While most of the benefits for skin health are indirect, magnesium proves crucial for healthy skin:
- Magnesium plays a role in protein synthesis.
- Magnesium helps make your master antioxidant, glutathione.
- Magnesium plays a role in cellular energy production.
- Magnesium can help alleviate certain skin conditions including acne.
- Magnesium’s calming effect makes it ideal to lower your stress hormone cortisol. Research shows chronic stress can contribute to or worsen numerous skin conditions including psoriasis.
6. Magnesium helps you sleep better, which means healthier skin.
- Dark chocolate. One ounce has 16 percent of your Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) for magnesium. Look for one with at least 85 percent cacao and no more than five grams of sugar per serving. Remember most bars contain several servings!
- Avocado. Slice it on top of your salad or spoon it straight as a snack.
- Nuts. Almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts are top magnesium stars.
- Leafy greens. The darker, the better. Spinach and kale are especially smart choices.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Chronic inflammation is all-around bad news for your body, contributing to numerous diseases while aging you prematurely. This type of inflammation can damage healthy cells, leading to DNA damage and tissue death that take their toll on your skin.
Chronic inflammation can manifest in skin conditions including eczema, rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis. Inflammatory skin conditions impact over 35 million Americans, who spend about $2 billion annually to treat symptoms.
The omega-3 fatty acids, especially eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), can keep your skin hydrated while minimizing UV-induced damage that can destroy collagen. Those benefits come from the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.
Theoretically, your body can convert the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) into the longer chain EPA and DHA. Several glitches, however, limit that conversion.
You should still eat foods rich in ALA, which provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits, but ideally, you’ll combine them with foods that contain EPA and DHA.
Just note, because foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are prone to rancidity, store these foods in airtight containers and be aware of sell-by dates.
Best Foods to Get Omega-3 Fatty Acids
1. Wild-caught fish. The best source of the omega-3s EPA and DHA. Wild-caught salmon is an especially good choice.
2. Walnuts. An excellent source of ALA and a delicious, nutrient-rich snack rich in protein, dietary fiber, and nutrients.
3. Flaxseeds. Another good source of ALA that also packs fiber, nutrients, and protein. Buy them whole and grind flaxseed. You can add them to smoothies.
That spice that gives your curry a pungent yellow-orange hue has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal herb. Science has caught up: Research shows that turmeric contains compounds with medicinal properties.
Chief among them is curcumin. This active compound in turmeric is a powerful antioxidant that can also lower inflammation levels. Curcumin binds to various proteins, including collagen, to protect them from damage.
Curcumin didn’t make our top-five nutrient list because you really can only get it from turmeric. Sprinkle this vibrant spice on vegetables or really, any food. You can also add it to smoothies.
Getting Therapeutic Amounts of these Nutrients
Food should always be your foundation to get these and other nutrients. Our Core and Advanced Nutrition Plans provide plenty of skin-nourishing nutrients.
Sometimes, though, obstacles such as topsoil depletion can inhibit the nutrient intake we need to get from food. That’s where supplements can cover your basis.
Along with a healthy diet, a good multivitamin can cover the nutrients you might not be getting enough of from food.