As your skin is the largest organ in your body, it may be appropriate to give it an extra little love and attention. Having healthy skin is the best way to keep yourself looking young, as some of the biggest giveaways of old age are wrinkles, lumps under the eyes, or other signs of unhealthy skin. If you don't believe me, take it from Georgiana Donadio, founder of the National Institute of Whole Health in Boston, who says: "Your skin is the fingerprint of what is going on inside your body, and all skin conditions, from psoriasis to acne to aging, are the manifestations of your body's internal needs, including its nutritional needs".
So, if you have a healthy diet which includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, or if you take some form of vitamin supplement, then you may be getting all of the vitamins and nutrients you need to keep your skin looking (as well as being) healthy and young. In case you are not sure which vitamins are the best for your skin, or if you want to figure which foods contain these skin nurturing vitamins, here is a short list of some of the things you should be looking for:
1.) Vitamin K: Not the most talked about in the vitamin world; but don't let the relative unpopularity of this vitamin stop you from believing that it is good for your skin. Vitamin K can be either eaten, or applied topically to nurture your skin and make it look younger. It is an ingredient in many eye or face creams meant to improve the appearance and health of your skin. Foods rich in Vitamin K include: dried herbs, dark leafy green vegetables, spring onions, brussel sprouts, broccoli, chili powder, cayenne pepper, curry, paprika, asparagus, cabbage, pickled cucumber, and prunes.
2.) Vitamin A: Vitamin A has a special knack for repairing damaged skin cells, especially from staying out in the sun for too long. Without enough Vitamin A, your skin could end up being very dry and old looking. Vitamin A, like K can be either eaten or applied topically, and creams used for the intention of healing skin damaged by the sun will often include a healthy does of Vitamin A. Foods that are rich in Vitamin A include: liver or pate, chili powder, red pepper, cayenne, paprika, sweet potato, carrots, dark leafy green vegetables, butternut squash, dried herbs, lettuce, dried apricots, and cantaloupe.
3.) Vitamin C: Vitamin C helps you to build collagen, which helps to keep your skin looking fresh and youthful. Again, like Vitamins K and A, Vitamin C can be either eaten or applied topically; certain types of facial masks can be applied to your face made from foods rich in Vitamin C such as pineapples or grapes to improve the health of your skin. Other foods that are high in Vitamin C include: red and green hot chili peppers, guavas, bell peppers, fresh herbs (especially thyme and parsley), dark leafy green vegetables (especially kale, watercress, and mustard greens), broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, kiwi fruit, papaya, oranges or clementines, and strawberries.
4.) Vitamin E: Vitamin E helps to increase the natural defense of your skin, as well as assisting to maintain stores of Vitamin A and K (both of which are also good for your skin). Foods that are rich in Vitamin E include: sunflower seeds, paprika, red chili powder, almonds, pine nuts, peanuts, dried herbs (especially basil and oregano), dried apricots, pickled green olives, cooked spinach, and cooked taro root.
5.) Antioxidants: This may not technically be a vitamin, but according to nutritional supplement expert Mary Sullivan, antioxidants are also a large factor in the quality of your skin: "There is a lot of important new research showing tremendous power of antioxidants in general, and in some specific nutrients in particular that can make an important difference in the way your skin looks and feels -- and even in how well it ages". The best foods to eat for antioxidants are berries, artichokes, red grapes or red wine, beans (especially red ones), carrots, apples, potatoes, and dark chocolate.
6.) Beta-carotene: Beta-carotene helps protect your skin from being damaged by ultraviolet light, and can also be applied topically to clear up reddened skin. On top of that, studies have shown that even eating beta-carotene can help to clear up reddened skin. Foods high in beta-carotene include: sweet potato, kale, carrots, turnip greens, mustard greens, spinach, dried herbs, butternut squash, lettuce, and collards.
7.) Omega-3 fatty acids: According to David Bank, director for the Center of Dermatology, Cosmetic, and Laser Surgery in Mount Kisco, N.Y., "Omega-3 fatty acids help keep the top, outer layer of the skin strong and intact so that external toxins and pollutants are kept out." Foods which contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids include: pasture raised meats, omega-3 enriched dairy foods, omega-3 enriched eggs, edamame (a type of soy), wild rice (did you know it's really a type of grass?), walnuts, canola oil, flax, beans, and sustainable seafood.
It looks like your best bet is eating (or in some cases, wearing) a lot of fruits and vegetables, as well as some nuts and seed, on top a variety of herbs and spices (and just for fun, some dark chocolate as well), along with a few other heartier things for the sake of your omega-3. So before you buy into a line of expensive health products, like creams or lotions or facial masks, remember that you can also get these same vitamins through eating delicious and healthy foods.
According to Sullivan, however, this doesn't mean that some vitamin pills won't do your skin good either: "When combined with a good diet, the right dietary supplements can help keep your skin looking not only healthy, but also years younger." To choose the right supplement, you could start by finding one that includes all of the vitamins listed above, or you could head over to your local health store to find out which supplement would best complement your diet, as well as your desire for younger looking skin.