Surprising Foods Your Skin is Starving For

The 3 Nutrients Your Skin Craves Most

There are three classes of nutrients that are critical to keeping your skin healthy, glowing, and youthful. Read on to find out if there’s something missing from your menu.
 
Antioxidant vitamins
The three antioxidant vitamins—A, C, and E—fight free radicals generated by exposure to environmental stressors such as pollution and sunlight. This is important because free radicals cause cellular damage that results in both superficial and deep skin problems, including accelerated wrinkling and spotting and the breakdown of the collagen and elastin that supports facial skin. Plus, antioxidant vitamins may even play a role in preventing skin cancer.
 
To get vitamin A naturally, add carrots, peas, and sweet potatoes to your meal. For vitamin C, choose bell peppers, broccoli, leafy greens, lemons, oranges, and tomatoes.
 
Vitamin E is found most plentifully in almonds, avocados, olives, peanuts, and spinach. (A bonus nutrient in almonds and peanuts is biotin, a B vitamin that is sometimes called the “beauty vitamin” because of its important role in maintaining hair and nail health.)
  
The antioxidant vitamins are also effective in minimizing environmental skin damage when applied topically in serums and lotions.
 
Monounsaturated fats
Your face loves fats, which are part of a larger group of molecules known as lipids. Lipids are the glue that holds the skin together, protects the surface layer, and keeps the skin’s protective barrier function intact. In other words, they keep the skin firm, hydrated, and healthy.
 
Honestly, your skin isn’t choosy about what kinds of lipids it puts to work in its various tasks, but for the wellbeing of your heart, it’s best to focus on consuming heart-healthy monounsaturated fat from plant sources (as opposed to the saturated fats found in animal products like meat and dairy). And keeping your cardiovascular system healthy does pay a beauty bonus because the better your circulation, the healthier your skin is because waste products are carried away more quickly and nutrients arrive faster.
 
Enjoy healthy fats in moderation in foods like avocados, hazelnuts, olives and olive oil, peanuts and peanut butter, and pecans
 
Omega-3 fatty acids
These don’t sound like something you’d want to ingest, but like monounsaturated fats, omega-3s are lipids. Specifically, they are a type of “essential” fatty acid (EFA), which means that while they are critical to your skin’s health, you can’t manufacture them in your body so you must get them from food. EFAs fight inflammation and help maintain the skin’s protective barrier function against moisture loss, infection, and environmental toxins.
 
Omega-3s are most abundant in fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines, but if you are a vegetarian or just hate fish, you can also get a form of omega-3s from chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, tofu, and walnuts.
Anne M. Russell is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. She is the former editor in chief of VIVmag, previously having served as editor in chief of Shape. Prior to that, she was the editorial director of Fox Television’s Health Network, where she oversaw the Network’s website as well as on-air content. https://www.linkedin.com/in/annemrussell

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