The skin is the largest organ found in the body and the hair, nails and oil glands make up the integumentary system. One of the skin’s important functions is to protect the body from the outside environment filled with chemicals, bacteria and also the temperature. It also retains fluid in the body helping to prevent dehydration. Your skin has nerves that send messages to the brain so that you feel cold, heat and also pain.
The objective is to provide support to your skin both on the inside and outside. Nutrition is important for health. Eating a healthy diet can improve the health of your skin especially during the aging process. Protein sources including fatty fish like salmon and mackerel are great for healthy skin. While fruits and vegetables are important, it is wise to select dark colored blueberries, sweet potatoes, papaya, spinach and kale, which are a rich sources of antioxidants.
External Skin Care
A daily skin care routine is important to keep the skin healthy and nourished.
Cleansing the skin:
Select a facial cleanser that is appropriate for your skin type and be sure to only cleanse it twice a day since it dries the skin out. It is encouraged to not clean so intensely that you remove your skin’s natural oils.
Use a serum:
You may want to try using a serum in the morning which contains nutrients such as vitamin C or peptides. In the evening, a serum with nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E and retinol may be helpful.
In general, a moisturizer in the morning and evening is beneficial. For the daytime, try to use one that is lightweight and doesn’t block pores. If one has dry skin they may want to try a moisturizer with a cream base.
Use a sunscreen that has a SPF of at least 30, blocking 97% of the sun's UVB rays.
Exercise, especially aerobic exercise increases blood circulation to help deliver oxygen and nutrients to the skin. This keeps the skin healthy and encourages new skin cells to be manufactured. With aging blood flow is reduced to the skin and exercise promotes it providing an anti aging benefit.
Sleep is essential to having a nice looking complexion. During sleep the body has the opportunity to repair itself including for the epidermis (skin). There is increased blood flow and collagen is rebuilt.
Nutrients to support the skin
Good nutrition and a balanced diet are important to help delay aging and increase longevity. Low levels of vitamins from the diet affects the health of the skin. The skin’s antioxidant protection comes from the nutrients found in food.
For the skin, it is essential to consume a balanced diet of carbohydrates, proteins and fat. In addition, consuming micronutrients, which are vitamins, and the necessary minerals all work together. The balanced nutrients from the diet act as a barrier for the exposed skin on the face and other parts of the body. They protect against the damaging effects of daily weather and environmental conditions.
Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin with antioxidant properties to help protect the body from damaging free radicals. It is essential to for the skin since it stimulates the manufacturing of collagen, which is reduced with aging. It is found in citrus fruits, but also in supplements
Vitamin E as d-alpha tocopherol is the natural form of vitamin E. Research shows that oral intake of vitamin E and vitamin C have antioxidant benefits to help protect the skin against the UV rays of the sun. It is found in vegetable oils and nuts, but can be found in supplements.
Biotin, vitamin B7 is a water-soluble vitamin, which has been receiving a lot of attention for improving the hair and nails. There is some research that shows that providing Biotin to those with a deficiency has improved skin conditions. It is found in foods such as eggs, nuts, soybeans, organ meats and also in supplements.
Calcium is an important mineral for the body. There are calcium ions in the epidermis and are needed for helping to regulate many skin functions. This includes the skin barrier protecting our body from the outside environment. It is found in dairy foods and supplements.
Magnesium is a mineral that is used in various cellular metabolic pathways. In regards to the skin, magnesium is involved in improving cellular functions and helps to balance hormone levels. Hormones are involved with aiding moisture to the skin, since it plays a role in sebum production. Magnesium is found in spinach, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, whole wheat cereals and in supplements.
Three other important minerals to support the skin are zinc, copper, and selenium.
Zinc is a key cofactor of a number of enzymes and it aids in protecting the skin against UV rays. Copper is used as an antioxidant to help protect the skin. Selenium also helps to protect the skin from UV oxidative damage by stimulating the particular antioxidant enzymes.
MSM is beneficial to the skin since it is a sulfur donor to keratin. Keratin is an essential protein found in skin cells, sticking together with other proteins to form a strong layer. MSM is available in foods such as tomatoes, fruit, corn, milk and in some supplements.
Cynatine HNS is a soluble keratin, which is a protein found in the body. Cynatine HNS has been studied and demonstrated with other nutrients to provide support to protect and improve the skin, hair and nails.
The aloe vera plant is a succulent plant that grows in tropical climates. For centuries it has been used externally and internally for medicinal purposes, especially to help the skin.
In summary, it is important to take care of the skin both externally and internally with an exercise program and good regimen of cleansing, use of a serum, moisturizer and sunscreen. Internally a balance diet with key nutrients is important ensuring that key nutrients are found in the foods. In addition, vitamins, minerals and specialty nutrients are available to provide protection and to keep the skin healthy.
If you have a health condition and or take medication, it’s always best to check with your healthcare provider prior to starting an exercise program and/or taking supplements.
Cao C, Xiao Z, Wu Y, Ge C. Diet and skin aging-from the perspective of food nutrition. Nutrients. 2020;12(3):870.
Gref R, Deloménie C, Maksimenko A, et al. Vitamin C–squalene bioconjugate promotes epidermal thickening and collagen production in human skin. Sci Rep. 2020;10:16883.
Tew GA, Saxton JM, Hodges GJ. Exercise training and the control of skin blood flow in older adults. J Nutr Health Aging. 2012;16(3):237-41.