Best Foods and Vitamins for Healthy, Glowing Skin
Glowing skin is a sign of inner health. Poor health, especially poor gut health, is commonly displayed on your skin. The link between your gut and your skin is called 'the gut-skin axis' and glowing skin requires an optimal intake of nutrients for your gut to digest to fuel your natural collagen production and for healthy skin. Skin cells grow and divide rapidly, and each time they do so they need a boost of nutrients for their growth and function.
Best Foods for Glowing Skin
Eating a balanced and nutritious diet is the foundation for having healthy, radiant skin. From antioxidant-rich fruits to seeds packed full of Omega 3, we explore the top vegan foods that provide the essential nutrients needed to promote healthy, bright skin naturally and protect it from damage.
Here our nutritionists explain the best foods and supplements for glowing skin.
1. Kiwi fruit
Kiwis may be small but they're a powerhouse for healthy skin. Not only are they rich in Vitamin C which is essential for healthy collagen production, they also work directly on the gut-skin axis.
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Kiwis contain a type of fibre which is not found in many other foods. This fibre feeds the good bacteria in your gut, especially the bacteria which are sensitive to oxygen and cannot be taken as a supplement. Providing a food source for the probiotics in your gut encourages their growth and production of 'short chain fatty acids' which help to nourish the gut and control inflammation levels in the entire body, including your skin.
Kiwis also promote proper bowel function which is important for the removal of toxins out of the body – otherwise, they are pushed out through the skin which contributes towards some types of acne and inflamed skin. This is also why poor skin condition is one of the 6 signs of an unhealthy gut. Discover if your stools are showing signs of an unhealthy gut in 'What does your poo say about your health'.
2. Berries & cherries
Berries and cherries are abundant with a natural plant colouring agent called 'proanthocyanidin' (pronounced 'pro-antho-cyan-idin'). The darker the berry, the more proanthocyanidins they contain. Proanthocyanidins are potent natural antioxidants – meaning they protect the skin from harmful oxidants that come from the sun, pollution and poor dietary choices.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of protection provided by proanthocyanidins is the collagen in your skin. Collagen is the stretchy, structural component of your skin which helps to prevent wrinkling and requires antioxidant protection. Learn more in 'The truth about collagen'.
The important role of proanthocyanidins is why Skin Saviour, our acclaimed formula for healthy ageing, glowing and plumper skin, contains powerful antioxidants including Grapeseed and Bilberry, alongside Green Tea. If you're looking to add berries in your diet, try our delicious Simple Berry Fitness Bars recipe.
3. Chia seeds, flax seeds and sources of Omega 3
The skin cell membrane is rich in fat, and the type of fat in a diet will determine which type of fat is incorporated into your skin cell membrane.
Omega 3 rich foods including chia seeds and flax seeds are essential for skin health. Omega 3 is a flexible fat, and when used in the skin cells, it keeps the skin flexible, moisturised and less likely to crack or flake. Omega 3 fats also promote the production of anti-inflammatory hormones in the body, decreasing any excess skin inflammation and face redness. Omega 3 is an 'essential fatty acid' because it can only be gained through your diet or supplements, so if you're not gaining sufficient omega 3 in your diet, it is recommended to take an omega 3 supplement.
Saturated fats on the other hand, which includes fats from butter, biscuits, palm oil and meat, for example, are hard fats. When hard fats are incorporated into the skin cell membrane, the skin becomes less flexible and more likely to crack. Learn more in 'Healthy fats and unhealthy fats explained'.
4. Cruciferous vegetables
Vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli and mustard greens are rich in 'isothiocyanates'. Isothiocyanates are substances which support the function of the liver and protect the liver from damage from toxins, including alcohol. Alcohol puts a burden on the liver and may cause a backlog of toxins in the body which will then be pushed out through the skin, causing outbreaks of spots.
Research shows reducing alcohol intake and increasing the consumption of cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts will help to keep your skin glowing.
Best Vitamins and Supplements for Glowing Skin
We know that foods rich in antioxidants, omega 3 and fibre can contribute to glowing skin, but which vitamins are good for your skin and what are the best supplements that you can take to heal and regenerate it?
Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for the skin and is especially important to those on a plant-based diet. Vitamin A is needed each time a new skin cell is created, and it helps the skin cells function effectively by promoting natural moisturisation, giving your skin a radiant glow. Vitamin A is required especially for the top 2 layers of the skin, called the 'dermis' and the 'epidermis'. Vitamin A is also essential for the healing of your skin and the immune health of your skin.
In its active form, Vitamin A is difficult to consume on a plant-based diet. Most of the Vitamin A that vegans have in their body is made from beta-carotene, the orange pigment in foods such as carrots and peppers. Sometimes however, the body is unable to effectively convert beta carotene into Vitamin A, causing a deficiency in Vitamin A which is best addressed by taking a specialist skin supplement or a comprehensive daily multi-vitamin.
Discover Skin Saviour® for healthy, plumper glowing skin.
Vitamin C & Protein
Many people talk about the benefits of collagen for the skin. Collagen is the main flexible and structural component in skin. As we age, our levels of collagen decline, leading to wrinkling and sagging skin. It is simply the loss of collagen which causes wrinkles. The decline of collagen accelerates during menopause, when oestrogen levels drop, which is why there can be marked changes in skin health during menopause.
Collagen is formed in the skin cells and requires a substantial level of Vitamin C alongside protein. The Vitamin C is used in a process called hydroxylation, which converts protein into collagen.
Collagen-only supplements get broken down into their individual amino acids before they are of any benefit, so not only are they generally ineffective, without Vitamin C they are essentially expensive protein supplements. Most people also don't realise collagen supplements are made from boiled ligaments, muscles and bones of cows, or boiled scales and skin of fish. Learn more in 'The truth about collagen' and 'Animal ingredients in supplements - what you need to know'.
If you follow a plant-based or vegan diet, focus on your intake of Vitamin C combined with protein-rich foods for healthier skin, and consider a vegan skin supplement formulated to fuel your body's natural collagen production.
Hyaluronic acid is a type of sugar found abundantly in our skin. Hyaluronic acid holds onto water and is responsible for the moisturisation of our skin, binding water to collagen which forms the main structural and elastic component of our skin.
Hyaluronic acid holds up to 1,000 times its own weight in water, which is why staying hydrated is so important for healthy skin, and why Hyaluronic acid is the most powerful skin moisturiser in your body. If your skin is dry, dull or cracked, your skin may need more Hyaluronic acid than your body produces which is why it is a key ingredient in Skin Saviour®. Learn more in 'What is Hyaluronic acid?'.
As we highlighted earlier, Omega 3 is directly incorporated into our skin and provides the flexibility in the skill membranes across our whole body. Remember our skin is the largest organ in our body, so it's important to gain sufficient omega 3 in our diet or through a vegan omega 3 supplement which isn't contaminated by toxins and metals found in fish-sourced omega 3 supplements.
Vitamin B12 deficiency may be associated with pigmentation changes on the skin, which includes the formation of age spots. Check out our blog '5 signs you may be low in Vitamin B12'.
Age spots are spots on the skin with darker pigmentation compared to the rest of the skin. Fortunately, this is reversible with the correction of Vitamin B12 levels. Vegans struggle to get enough Vitamin B12 in their diet because it is found in almost all foods of animal origin. Vitamin B12 is essential for many body functions from healthy energy to your brain and immunity, so if you follow a plant-based or vegan diet it is advised to take a daily Vitamin B12 supplement.
Remember, the outer layer of your skin cells renew themselves every 28-31 days, so if you do make positive changes to your diet for better skin, you may not see the benefit on your skin for around four weeks!
Find out more about skin health with our hair, skin and nails articles or browse our range of vegan vitamins and supplements.
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