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Healthy Eating

Food for your skin

Learn how vitamins in food can keep your skin strong
By Terri Yablonsky Stat
Contributing writer

Lotions, cleansers, creams and toners may help keep your skin radiant and healthy, but there’s something else you can add to your daily regimen to help accomplish these results – eat healthily.

The fats, vitamins and minerals in a healthy, balanced diet play a vital role in the health of your skin and your whole body.

“What you ingest is much more important than what you apply topically to your skin,” said Dr. Aleksandar Krunic, a dermatologist at Swedish Covenant Hospital.

The fats in your diet should not total more than 25 to 35 percent of your daily calories, said Krunic. For good health, the majority of those fats should be monounsaturated (olive, canola, peanut, sunflower and sesame oils; avocados; peanut butter; and many nuts and seeds), polyunsaturated (soybean, corn and safflower oils; fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and trout; and walnuts and sunflower seeds) or both. 

These good fats help the skin barrier protect from outside environmental threats such as cold, heat, chemicals and infectious agents. If you take cholesterol-lowering medication, which can cause dry skin, be sure to eat good fats and use moisturizers, Krunic said.  

Stay away from foods high in saturated fat. Some studies show that consuming foods high in saturated fat can lead to oily skin, skin infections and yeast infections, according to Krunic. These foods include high-fat red meats, sour cream, butter, whole-milk dairy products, fried, sweets, white bread or pasta.

Vitamins and minerals
Certain vitamins and minerals have been shown to improve skin, including the antioxidants Vitamins A, C and E.

Vitamin A — is necessary for maintenance and repair of skin tissue. Lack of this vitamin has been linked to dry, flaky skin. Good sources are sweet potatoes, pumpkins, carrots, cantaloupe, tomatoes, leafy greens and low-fat dairy products.

Vitamin C — can help reduce the effects of sunlight, smoke and pollution. You’ll find it in strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, oranges, grapefruits, lemons, bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, leafy greens, sweet potatoes and carrots.

Vitamin D — is important for the immune system and can help protect from skin cancer. Good  sources are cod-liver oil, fortified milk, fortified orange juice, salmon, mackerel and tuna. The sun is a source of Vitamin D as well. If you don’t get enough Vitamin D from these sources, consider taking supplements.

Vitamin E — can help reduce the effects of sunlight, smoke and pollution. Good sources are nuts, seeds, fortified cereals, vegetable oils, whole grain bread, lean meats, leafy greens, wheat germ, olives and avocados.

Omega-3 fatty acids — research shows that diets low in omega-3 fatty acids can lead to dry skin and premature wrinkles. Good sources are fatty fish such as salmon, herring and albacore tuna; as well as primrose and flaxseed.

Selenium — this mineral helps repair skin cell damage, provides elasticity and can reduce wrinkles. Good sources are whole-wheat bread, muffins, and cereals; turkey, tuna and Brazil nuts.

Zinc — this mineral tames oil production and can help control acne. You’ll find it in oysters, red meat and poultry.