Five Nutrients for Skin Health and Where to Find Them

Five Nutrients for Skin Health and Where to Find Them

By Jenny Tschiesche BSc(Hons) Dip(ION) FdSc BANT

When it comes to the treatment and management of skin conditions, and/or keeping skin healthy in the long term, there are certain groups of nutrients that are particularly important.

Foods Rich in Omega 3

Omega 3 fatty acids are vital for skin health for two reasons. The first is that they are vital for maintaining the health of cell membranes. Healthy membranes mean skin that can retain moisture more effectively. The second reason is their anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Omega 3 fatty acids provide the body with the building blocks that it needs to manufacture its own anti-inflammatory compounds. Acne and eczema are both signs of inflammation. Reducing inflammation downgrade the severity of the appearance of these skin conditions.

Foods that contain omega 3 fats include oily fish such as sardines, mackerel, anchovies, and salmon. Non-animal sources include chia seeds, flax seeds (ground), hemp seeds and walnuts.

Beta-Carotene Rich Foods

Vegetables and fruits that are typically orange/yellow in colour such as sweet potatoes, mangoes, carrots, melons, apricots, peaches etc are rich in beta carotene, the plant form of vitamin A. This fat-soluble nutrient gets to work on the fatty tissues in the body. The subcutaneous layer of the skin is abundant in fatty tissue. This is the area of the skin important structures such as collagen and elastin fibres exist that give skin its structural integrity. These structures can be exposed to damage by free radicals. Factors such as UV radiation and lifestyle choices can cause the number of free radicals to rise rapidly.




Adequate intake of fat-soluble antioxidants such as beta carotene can cause an accumulation of antioxidants in the subcutaneous layer of the skin where they provide localised protection against free radical damage - reducing inflammation and offering an anti-ageing function.

Foods Rich in Zinc

One of the most important nutrients for skin health, whether it is long term maintenance of the skin or treating conditions like acne is zinc. This mineral helps to regulate the sebaceous glands. These are the glands that secrete sebum which is the skin’s natural oil. It can help either up-regulate or down-regulate production depending on the needs of your skin. If the skin is too oily, then adequate zinc intake can down-regulate sebum production. Likewise, if oil secretion is too low, adequate zinc intake will increase production.

Zinc is particularly effective in the fight against acne. It is used by white blood cells to fight infection. This means that acne will be cleared more quickly and efficiently with sufficient zinc intake.

Foods rich in zinc include prawns, nuts, seeds (especially pumpkin seeds), beans, and wholegrains.

Vitamin E Rich Foods

This is in fact another fat-soluble antioxidant. Vitamin E is not actually a single substance, rather a family of substances called tocopherols and tocotrienols. It is known to reduce the oxidation free radicals, some of which occur in or can damage skin cell membranes. Vitamin E also offers photoprotection, meaning it can reduce free radical activity from UV rays and also absorb some ultraviolet. It also helps to reduce inflammation.

Foods rich in Vitamin E include nuts, seeds, green leafy vegetables, avocadoes and wholegrains.


nuts and seeds


Foods Rich in B Vitamins

Upping your intake of B vitamin rich foods is vital for skin health. So many B vitamins provide important protection against skin flare ups and help to improve the appearance of skin.

B3 (Niacin) - improves the skins ability to retain moisture, and enhances circulation to the skin.

B3 & B5 - both vital for reducing the severity of skin flare ups

B7 (Biotin) - important for maintaining the texture and tone of the skin.

B12 (not found in plant foods) - helps to regulate skin tone and pigmentation.

Foods rich in B Vitamins include brown rice, barley, quinoa, buckwheat, also green leafy vegetables and most meats and fish are also B vitamin rich.


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