Quick Tips: 5 Ways to Feed Your Skin the Nutrients It Needs

Who knew eating healthy foods could improve your looks, too? Strawberries are a great source of vitamin C.
Who knew eating healthy foods could improve your looks, too? Strawberries are a great source of vitamin C.
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Unhappy with your dull complexion and sagging skin? You don't need surgery -- you need only eat the right foods to rejuvenate your skin and take years off your look, says dermatologist Nicholas Perricone, M.D.

Perricone, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale University School of Medicine and author of "The Wrinkle Cure," is not alone in focusing on nutrition as a path to healthy, radiant skin. Hope is growing in the scientific community that the aging process can be slowed with vitamins.

The shining stars in the scientific race against wrinkles: antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E. Antioxidants have the potential to overwhelm destructive molecules called free radicals, which live in every cell of the body and can destroy the skin tissue.

To support healthy skin (and hair and nails), experts agree that certain vitamins and minerals are essential. The top five are:

  • Vitamin C: This vitamin is critical for strong, healthy skin because of its role in the body's manufacture of collagen, a protein that keeps the skin supple and tight. Even a slight deficiency can compromise the production of collagen. Fruits like pink grapefruit, kiwi and strawberry contain lots of vitamin C, as do bell peppers.
  • Vitamin E: The vitamin is thought to help in the fight against free radicals, though deficiency of vitamin E is not known to cause any disease. Pick up some sunflower seeds, Swiss chard and papaya to get your fill.
  • Thiamine: This B vitamin is important in ensuring normal cellular function in the skin. You can find thiamine in tuna and all sorts of beans, from navy to pinto.
  • Zinc: Normal epidermal cell growth is reliant on this mineral, which you can find plenty of in venison, crimini mushrooms and spinach.
  • Selenium: This mineral is critical in the production of glutathione, a natural enemy of free radicals. Brazil nuts are a great source of selenium, as are scallops, shiitake mushrooms and lamb.

Perricone says it's simply about "eating the way we were told." Leaving nothing to chance, however, the doctor also specifies the contents of a healthful diet for skin should include:

  • high-protein foods
  • antioxidant-rich carbohydrates
  • essential fatty acids

The diet is aimed at reducing skin inflammation, explains the dermatologist, because it's inflammation that makes skin look dull and wrinkled, makes pores appear larger and causes discoloration of the skin.

Perricone's ideal skin-healthy meal would include a 6-ounce (170.1-gram) serving of fresh grilled salmon, a romaine lettuce salad with lemon juice and olive oil for a dressing, and fresh cantaloupe.

Says Nick Lowe, M.D., the author of "Skin Secrets: The Medical Facts Versus the Beauty Fiction," and a clinical professor of Dermatology at the UCLA School of Medicine: "If you eat a normal, balanced diet and take vitamin and mineral supplements, that should be more than adequate, and assuming you don't smoke, the skin is a remarkably resilient organ."

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