7 Superfoods for the Skin: Eat Your Way Towards That Healthy Glow

Beauty from inside out.  This concept holds true especially when we are talking skin health.  Stripping down to the basics, we have the option to direct our path towards healthy, youthful skin by making smart choices in the foods we nourish our bodies with.  We are living in an era where focus on wellness, anti-aging and nutrition has provided us access to a wide selection of supplements, vitamin-fortified topical products and treatments to give us that radiant, youthful skin. But which ones do we choose and what should we eat? There is a myriad of information about antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and having an understanding of how they work will make it easier to eat our way to glowing skin. 
Here are a few we thought would be most interesting to explore and some of the ways to get them:

The skin is the major site for Vitamin D synthesis.  Besides its roles in regulating calcium, boosting the immune system and regulating cell growth, it protects skin cells from damage and death from UV exposure.  Studies have also linked Vitamin D with skin cancer prevention and anti-aging effects.  So get friendly with these fat fishes as they provide the highest amounts of Vitamin D:

  • Salmon
  • Cod liver oil
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Products fortified with Vitamin D such as milk, cereals and margarine

Vitamin C is one of the most well-known antioxidants that works by scavenging and quenching free radicals in the body. It works synergistically with Vitamin E by regenerating E’s antioxidant potential.  It is vital for wound healing, collagen synthesis, and repairing DNA damage with the added bonus of lightening brown spots.  Just like the doctor's advice when flu season is around the corner, eat your citrus fruits and vegetables! The richest sources of Vitamin C are:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Blackcurrant
  • Rose hip
  • Guava
  • Chili pepper
  • Parsley

Vitamin E is another natural antioxidant in our body.  It is also a free radical scavenger and prevents collagen cross linking and lipid peroxidation that causes skin aging.  Studies done on topical Vitamin E showed its effect on reducing skin redness and inflammation, sunburned cells and UVB-induced skin damage.
This is when having all that oil is good for you, as vegetable oils provide a good supply of Vitamin E:

  • Sunflower oil
  • Wheat germ oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Seeds, corn, soy, wheat, flour, margarine and some meat products are also rich sources.

Carotenoids are derivatives of Vitamin A belonging to a colorful family of red-, orange- and yellow-appearing substances that are effective antioxidants and photodamage protectors. Retinol is the most important of all carotenoids and is widely used in topical preparations to help with chronic sun damage and aging skin.  Other known carotenoids are Asthaxanthin, Lutein, Lycopene and Beta-Carotene.  Having your fill of your pinks, greens, reds, yellows and oranges will enrich your bodies with Vitamin A.

  • Astaxanthin – salmon, trout, krill, crayfish, crustaceans
  • Lutein - spinach, kale
  • Lycopene - tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, papaya, red bell pepper, pink guava
  • Beta-Carotene - sweet potatoes, kale, carrots, pumpkin, mango, turnip greens, spinach, papaya
  • Retinol – liver, milk, egg yolk, cheese, fatty fish

Omega-3 (a-linolenic acid) and Omega-6 (linoleic acid) are the two big families of fatty acids, also sometimes called “Vitamin F”, that play a role in cell wall synthesis and stabilization. These are not naturally found in our bodies and can only be acquired thru dietary intake. Deficiency of fatty acids leads to eczematous (dry and irritated) skin.

  • More oily goodness—flaxseed oil, canola oil, hemp seed oil
  • Walnuts
  • Sesame seeds
  • Avocados
  • Salmon
  • Albacore tuna

Polyphenols have gained a lot of interest in anti-aging, cancer and cardiovascular research owing to their antioxidant properties.  They are mostly found in fruits, fruit juices, tea, coffee, red wine, chocolates and dry legumes, which are foods that are, in one way or another, already part of our diets already (yes, I said chocolates!)
Here are some of the known polyphenols, including flavonoids that have been studied to contribute to skin well-being.  Research is ongoing and more evidence is being sought.

  • Phlorizin – apples, cherries
  • Reservatrol (Stilbenes) – skin of grapes
  • Curcumin – Turmeric (Indian spice)
  • Silymarin
  • Green Tea

This vitamin-like substance is made by our bodies and stored in the fat tissues.  It is a powerful antioxidant as well. Sources include:

  • Salmon
  • Tuna
  • Liver
  • Grains

It is a timeless dermatologic fact that good hydration, a balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle will maintain youthful, radiant skin.  With all the environmental factors, stresses and pollution around us today, watching what we eat will definitely boost overall skin health.  If you eat a diet rich in these superfoods taken synergistically with your dermatologist-advised skin regimen, you will certainly be on your way to that glorious glow.

References: Draelos ZD. Nutrition and enhancing youthful-appearing skin. Clin Dermatol. 2010 Aug;28(4):400–8.
Schagen SK, Zampeli VA, Makrantonaki E, Zouboulis CC. Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging. Dermatoendocrinol. 2012 Jul 1;4(3):298–307.

Driscoll MS, Kwon E-KM, Skupsky H, Kwon S-Y, Grant-Kels JM. Nutrition and the deleterious side effects of nutritional supplements. Clin Dermatol. 2010 Aug;28(4):371–9.

Published on 09/06/2013 | Last updated on 01/03/2019