What is the role of vitamins, minerals and fatty acids in promoting a healthy skin?

This article explains the role of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids in aiding a healthy skin. It also states that the topical treatments are beneficial only when they are accompanied by a healthy and balanced diet.

Looking good has a lot to do with what we eat and how we live. Beauty and fitness has become the mantra of almost everyone around us. The key element in looking good is our skin-the largest organ of human body. It not only exhibits our outer beauty but reveals the conditions of our inner organs and skin problems are the manifestations of the body's internal needs including nutritional needs. Skin is our greatest protector;it protects, regulates body temparature through sweat glands, maintains immune system, purifies and nourishes. In return, it needs good nourishment to stay healthy and to carry out repair when damaged and also for the maintenance of our health and well being. So, skin care is not skin-deep confined to mere topical applications like lotions and creams but it hinges on the concept of nutritional skin care which means nutrition within and without. Cosmetic industries are mushrooming and the market is flooded with a plethora of products claiming that their topical treatment yield best results. Most of these products tend to address only the symptoms and they do not act on the causes of the problem. Hence, a holistic approach is needed to possess a healthy, young and velvety skin. It is, therefore clear that topical treatments can actually help only when they are accompanied by a healthy and balanced diet including vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids together with a healthy lifestyle.

The factors that affect our skin are environmental pollution, diet that is devoid of fibre, high stress, etc., Also, drinking alcohol and smoking are set as standards of social mix up. People hardly find time to think about the nutritional status of the food they eat. Lack of sleep, unhealthy life style, lack of exercise are some other factors that tell upon the skin. Other natural factors that influence the skin are ageing, genetics, over exposure to sun and radiation, etc.,. The problems associated with ageing are acne, hyper-pigmentation, sagging skin, wrinkles, fine lines and age spots.

Essential nutrients required for skin

Vitamins A, B, C, E, minerals like Zinc and selenium and the essential fatty acids like Omega3 and Omega 6 are very much important for having a healthy and a glowing skin. The skin is composed of collagen which is responsible for providing proper structure to skin. It keeps the skin toned and firm. It is Vitamin C, which boosts the collagen production and it is found abundant in citrus fruits like oranges and other fruits like guava, papaya, berries and amla. Intake of green leay vegetables also helps maintain good and a healthy skin. Vitamin B is responsible for providing healthy nails, hair and skin. It is largely found in dark leafy vegetables, banana and egg yolk. The other vitamin which is essential for an healthy skin is Vitamin A and it is found in fruits like melons, vegetables like carrots, broccoli, tomato and yellow pumpkins. Over exposure to sun leads to the formation of free radicals in the body and a diet which is a combination of the above mentioned vitamins along with minerals such as zinc, copper and selenium help fight the free radicals.

Essential Fatty Acids

The role of EFAs in skin care is that they normalise skin lipids, prevent dehydration and help immune system. The source of EFAs are nuts like walnut and almond and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and seasame and oils like olive oil, corn oil, etc.,. The essential fatty acids that are required by the skin are linoleic acid and alpha-linoleic acid. It is found in evening primrose oil, fatty fish and flax seeds. It helps maintain a lustrous skin. As age increases, our body fails to absorb the essential nutrients and it lacks producing antioxidants. So, it is very much needed to tune our body to meet the needs of the skin through a nutritious and a balanced diet.

Selenium is an antioxidant mineral that facilitates elasticity of tissues of the skin. Cell damages caused by the free radicals are arrested by this mineral. It is found in wheatgerm, brown rice, whole wheat bread, onions, garlic, broccoli, red meat, eggs and whole grains. Zinc helps protect the skin from acne and it is found in lean meat, poultry and sea foods.

Copper is essential for keeping the skin firm and toned and it is largely found in nuts, seeds and lentils. Vitamin E protects the skin from skin damage and it is largely found in sunflower oil, soyabean, cereals, eggs and wheat germ. The probiotics helps improve the absorbtion of antioxidants and nutrients by the body.

Above all, water is the most important nutrient for skin health. Water is excreted through some organs of or body including skin. Hence, it is essential that our body has to maintain sufficient fluid balance lest our body should dehydrate. Hence, our skin should be adequately hydrated for optimum health. Consumption of water aids detoxification. Higher intake of vitamin C and essential fatty acids can surely delay ageing factors and help maintain a healthy skin.

Ways to maintain a healthy skin

1. Loss of moisture, elastin, fat and collagen makes the skin dry, sagging and rough. It is good to drink plenty of fluids and have a balanced diet. The diet should include plant proteins like dals and sprouts, multi-colored vegetables, flax seeds, yoghurt, low fat diary, fresh fruits and soya.

2. Intake of 2.5- 3 liters of water is a must.

3. Smoking causes wrinkles on the skin and turns the skin to unnatural color. It is therefore prudent to quit smoking.

4. Chronic drinking causes liver damage that turns the skin color to yellow. So, consumption of alcohol needs to be avoided.

5. Avoid sweetened beverages and caffine.

6. It is good to avoid bakery prepared foods and fried foods.

7. Stress of any kind should be avoided.

7. Avocados help boost nutrients, vitamins A, E, C and B6. So, it is good to include it as a part of diet.

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