Feed Your Skin the Nutrients It Needs

Load Up on the Good Stuff

Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables — and Fish

To support healthy skin (and hair and nails, as well), experts agree that certain vitamins and minerals are essential, including:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Thiamine: This B vitamin is important in ensuring normal cellular function in the skin.
  • Zinc: Normal epidermal cell growth is reliant on this mineral.
  • Selenium: This mineral is critical in the production of glutathione, a natural enemy of free radicals.

In most cases, these vitamins and minerals are ingested into the body without any extra effort. Many fruits and vegetables, for example, are loaded with antioxidant vitamins such as A, B, C, and beta carotene.

Says Nick Lowe, M.D., a clinical professor of Dermatology at the UCLA School of Medicine and author of "Skin Secrets: The Medical Facts Versus the Beauty Fiction,"

"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."

True, says Perricone, it's simply about "eating the way we were told." Leaving nothing to chance, however, Perricone specifies the contents of his healthful diet: high-protein foods, antioxidant-rich carbohydrates, and essential fatty acids (found in fish, olive oil and some nuts).

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 six-ounce serving of fresh grilled salmon, a romaine lettuce salad with lemon juice and olive oil for a dressing, and fresh cantaloupe.