How Nutrition Impacts Your Skin's Health
Updated: Nov 19, 2022
We often hear about how our diet impacts our physical health such as our energy levels and disease risk, but we don’t often hear about how nutrition impacts our skin.
To achieve and maintain healthy skin, we need to be consuming a wide range of macro and micronutrients in our diet. However, there are certain nutrients that play a particularly large role in our skin's health such as:
Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to improved skin hydration, oil regulation and reduced inflammation. You can find omega-3 in foods such as oily fish and chia seeds.
Vitamin D plays a vital role in cell growth and repair. The best way to get Vitamin D is through sunlight exposure but this can be tricky in the UK winters! The government advises that everyone should take a daily vitamin D supplement during autumn and winter (1).
Vitamin A is known for its role in the production of collagen and strengthening our skin. Vitamin A is found in a wide range of foods such as leafy greens, eggs, and tomatoes.
Zinc also plays a role in the production of collagen and has anti-inflammatory properties. You can find zinc in meat, nuts, and dairy products for example.
Vitamin C is essential for wound healing and contributes to photoprotection (2). Vitamin C is found in peppers, strawberries and cruciferous vegetables for example.
Antioxidants help to fight damage from free radicals and prevent inflammation. They are found in a really wide range of foods such as berries, citrus fruits, and nuts.
Diet & Skin Concerns
Eczema is a skin condition that affects around 1 in 10 people worldwide. Many people with eczema experience flare-ups when certain foods are eaten, and these foods can be different for everyone so it’s important to take note of your personal triggers. Common foods which may cause a reaction are shellfish, citrus fruits, shellfish, and dairy products (3). It’s vital that if you suffer from eczema or another skin condition, you don’t embark on an elimination diet without the support of a healthcare professional such as a dietitian. A dietitian will be able to ensure you are always consuming a wide range of foods and never over-restricting. Over-restriction can lead to deficiencies which can make eczema far worse. Some types of eczema can be contributed to by histamine intolerance, your dietitian can guide you on whether this might be relevant to you.
Rosacea is a condition that causes skin blushing usually around the nose and cheeks on the face. Some people with rosacea may find that spicy foods and alcohol worsen the complexion changes, though as with eczema, everyone’s triggers can be different. Foods high in omega-3 and zinc may improve symptoms as they have anti-inflammatory properties (eg: fish, nuts, and seeds).
Do I need collagen supplements?
Just like all proteins, collagen is broken down in the stomach into its amino acids. The amino acid building blocks are then distributed around the body, going to the places where they're needed most (4). This means the body may use collagen peptides for other purposes, and not necessarily to produce collagen itself. There are around 28-29 types of collagen, but the most common are types 1 to 5. Bovine collagen and marine collagen are the most common sources found on the market, though there are some vegan versions available. Many collagen supplements are 'hydrolyzed' meaning they are easier to absorb.
Essentially, there is still some mixed evidence surrounding collagen supplements for skin health. Some studies have found that collagen supplements may improve skin elasticity and have few negative side effects (5).
Hydration & Wellbeing
We should all aim to drink around 6-8 glasses of water a day to ensure we stay hydrated throughout the day, this will also help our skin! Fruit juice and smoothies also count, but they are a source of free sugars so you should stick to less than 150ml per day (4). Alcohol consumption can lead to our skin drying out over time. If you choose to drink, you should always drink enough water alongside alcohol and only drink whilst eating.
When we exercise, we improve our blood flow which benefits all cells in our body - including skin cells. It’s also essential we get enough sleep every night as this is when our cells have a chance to heal and rebuild!
If you wish to speak to a dietitian regarding your diet and skin health, please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com. Our team is made up of experienced, specialist dietitians who can work with you to create a tailored treatment plan based on your needs.