Skin can reveal how healthy we are. Positive lifestyle behaviours keeps us healthy and our skin looking younger. The following lifestyle behaviours can impact the skin:
- Nutrition for Healthier Skin
- Vitamin D Deficiency & Sun Exposure
- Skin Protection - UV Radiation
- Sun Safety & Indoor Tanning
- Nutrition & Water
Nutrition for Healthier Skin
Good skin maintenance is vital for every person. Practically speaking, skin defines who we are, it defines our self-confidence. Moreover, although many people are struggling with skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, seborrheic dermatitis and so on, there seems to be still a lack of enough useful information about them. Below is a list of some of the most beneficial vitamins, which we should include in our diet when battling skin problems.
Vitamin A was first isolated from an egg yolk in 1909, called fat-soluble factor A. The term as we know it now, refers to a whole host of compounds, not only one chemical.
Vitamin A promotes epidermal differentiation, inhibiting gland activity and suppressing androgen formation. Retin-A, one of the derivatives of vitamin A is used to treat acne, as one of the main benefits of the vitamin is to promote cell turnover in the skin, thus resulting in preventing the formation of comedones. It is also an approved agent which helps to reduce fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin A and its compounds are known to control cells, protecting them
The big question now is where can I find that mighty game-changer?
Carrots are a good source of carotenoids, which is a counterpart of vitamin A.
In cosmetics, the whole group of natural or artificial vitamin A compounds could be filed under the names retinol or retinoid.
Other sources worth mentioning are the preformed vitamin A rich foods, such as kidney, cream and butter from pastured cows and egg yolks from pastured chickens. The consumption of liver is beneficial for the reduction of acne.
Vitamin C regulates the structural protein collagen, which helps the extracellular stability of the skin. Once again, we’ve got a vitamin, which is compulsory for a good looking wrinkle-free skin. Acting as an antioxidant, vitamin C protects us by the UV light. It is also known that the vitamin stimulates the faster healing of wounds.
Highest sources of vitamin C include broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kiwi, strawberries, bell papers and of course citrus fruits. Vitamin C is sensitive to heat, so food containing it must be lightly cooked, or even better eaten raw.
Along with vitamin C, Biotin is another water-soluble vitamin, extremely important for the health of the skin. It is necessary for cell growth the production of fatty acids protecting the cells against damage and water loss.
Lack of Biotin causes hair loss and dermatitis around different body areas.
Some of the natural sources of Biotin, also known as vitamin H, are egg yolks, liver, romaine lettuce and almonds.
One of the many benefits of vitamin K2, worth including it in our diet is smoothing out fine lines and wrinkles. Recent research shows that people who cannot metabolize vitamin K2 experience excessive premature skin wrinkling. It is vital for the treatment of acne, keratosis pillaris etc.
Vitamin K can be found in butter, cheese and other high dairy products, due to the production of the vitamin by bacteria. Most of the dairy products on the shelves in the supermarket are not significantly high sources of vitamin K, because the animals are fed grains rather than grass, so it is important to look for grass-fed dairy products.
The intake of vitamin E prevents inflammatory damage from sun exposure, reduces the skin aging and skin cancer risk caused by UV radiation. It is used for treating inflammatory skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.
Whole food sources of vitamin E include spinach, turnip greens, sunflower seeds, almonds, Brussel sprouts and kale, among many others. As a fat-soluble vitamin, it is important to eat these foods with plenty of fat in order to boost its absorption.
Last but not least, Pantothenic Acid or B5, is a water-soluble vitamin needed by many skin cells for proper regeneration and growth.
It is known to help wound healing and may also promote the growth and differentiation of keratinocytes, essential for maintaining a healthy barrier function in the skin.
The presence of pantothenic acid in food is big, but the richest sources are kidney, liver, egg yolk and broccoli.
It is worth mentioning that good food habits cannot be your only salvation promising healthier skin, but they will definitely improve the skin immunity when combined with the right treatment.
Vitamin D Deficiency & Sun Exposure
Conflicting media reports about the health benefits of getting enough vitamin D from the sun has left many people confused. Should you go out in the sun or not? If so, for how long and what protective measures should you take? The problem seems to be the “conflicting goals” of obtaining adequate levels of vitamin D while preventing skin cancer through the use of sun protection products and reduced sun exposure. Some have questioned long-time recommendations about sun care protection. Others have linked vitamin D deficiency to overly cautious sun protection.
There are many health benefits of vitamin D. It is thought to protect against many serious conditions, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and multiple sclerosis. Vitamin D is also involved in regulating the levels of minerals such as phosphorous and calcium in the body. It also plays an important role in maintaining proper bone structure. Unlike most other vitamins, which are derived mainly from food sources, the majority of the body’s vitamin D is produced in the skin when exposed to the sun’s ultraviolet light.
So, it is vitally important to get some sun exposure to continue producing vitamin D. The problem is, how much exposure do you need? The time required to make sufficient vitamin D varies according to a number of environmental, physical and personal factors and varies between individuals. A ‘safe’ amount of sun is difficult to recommend as risk varies greatly among individuals. Any risk is unnecessary and irrelevant related to vitamin D concerns.
The benefits and necessity of adequate vitamin D are well established. Much of the controversy is based on the assumption that it is best to obtain adequate vitamin D levels from increased sun exposure. These issues of vitamin D deficiency and protection from sun exposure are of primary concern if a person suffers from some skin diseases and conditions. Those with skin conditions such as vitiligo, scleroderma, psoriasis, actinic keratosis, and lupus vulgaris may use vitamin D supplements. For skin disease patients who must avoid long periods of sun exposure a balance of vitamin D supplements, diet and incidental sun exposure should be sufficient. Vitamin D in forms known as calcitriol or calcipotriene is applied directly to the skin for a particular type of psoriasis.
A recent public health guidance issued by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence), “Vitamin D: increasing supplement use among at-risk groups”, November 2014, states that people at risk of low vitamin D need better access to supplements. NICE estimates that around 1 in 5 adults, and around 1 in 6 children, may have low vitamin D status – an estimated 10 million people across England.
What most definitely is not recommended for anyone is the use of tanning beds. Although it is a fact that sunbeds stimulate vitamin D production, this is far outweighed by increased risk of skin cancer. Alongside UVB, sunbeds emit UVA, which can cause skin cancer and does not contribute to vitamin D production.
Written by Kofi Dwinfour
Skin Protection from UV Radiation
- Seek the shade, especially between 10 AM and 4 PM as the rays are strongest then.
- Do not burn yourself in the sun!
- Avoid tanning and UV tanning booths as they may have a more damaging affect than sun itself.
- Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Use the UV Index, this is a number which denotes the level of exposure in a country/place and know your skin type.
- Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside.
- Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating
- Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months
- Examine your skin head-to-toe every month
- See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.
For further information go to: www.skincancer.org/prevention/sun-protection/prevention-guidelines
**Indoor tanning equipment, which includes all artificial light sources, including beds, lamps, bulbs, booths, etc., emits UVA and UVB radiation. The amount of the radiation produced during indoor tanning is similar to the sun, and in some cases might be stronger.
Studies have found a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma in those who have been exposed to UV radiation from indoor tanning.
Evidence from several studies (https://www.aad.org/media/stats/prevention-and-care) has shown that exposure to UV radiation from indoor tanning devices is associated with an increased risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer.
Sun Safety & Indoor Tanning
Sun protection is essential to skin cancer prevention – about 90 percent of non-melanoma skin cancers and 65 percent of melanomas are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun. Protecting your skin from, and limiting your exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight (or sunlamps/sunbeds) is the single most important thing you can do to maintain healthy skin. Uv radiation damages collagen and breaks it down and once its damaged, it cant rebuild itself and eventually wrinkles form. Too much exposure to the sun also results in sun spots or freckles. UV radiation can penetrate skin and damage the DNA in the nucleus of cells which may lead to mutations in DNA and one can develop skin cancer. Melanin, a pigment, produced by melanocytes is what creates a tan/pigment. Darker pigment helps stop UV which is why darker people rarely develop skin cancer and lighter people do.
- Using a sunbed can be fatal
- Winter sun can hurt your skin
- Vitamin D deficiency and sun exposure
Read more useful information on sun safety here
When we excessively drink alcohol, the blood vessels in our skin dilate, loose their tone and give various parts of the body the characteristic flushy red appearance of a blush, particularly the face (cheeks) and palms of the hand and soles of the feet. This dilated state can not only exacerbate any underlying skin condition but contributes to the formation of wrinkles, blemishes and breakouts as pores are enlarged and theres excess secretion from glands. The dilated state also causes us to loose a lot of water through evaporation from the skin. Alcohol can give you a pale grey colour and also has a tendency to decreases vital minerals and nutrients which are healthy for the skin, especially vitamin A. So its worth thinking twice before going on a binge because alcohol may make everyone look more attractive, but in the long run, your skin wont.
Individually we might not smoke, maybe occasionally, but we are however exposed to other people who do. Smoke can cause premature ageing by using up vitamin C which preserves collagen. Collagen, a vital component for maintaining the vitality and plumpness of the skin and gives us our youthful appearance. Collagen is not only broken down in this way but its production is reduced causing wrinkles and smoking also affects elastin as well. As with alcohol, nicotine has a diuretic affect which dries the surface of the skin and it can also reduce nutrients and minerals such as vitamin A. But in contrast to alcohol, smoking
reduces the blood flow and also reduces the oxygen supply and the ability for the skin to “breath” and receive nourishment it so regularly and desperately requires. Smoking causes reduced ability to heal and also suppresses your immune system making the skin a very weak barrier of defence. there are other ways smoking can affect skin with the formation of free radicals, the affect of heat and habitual aspects of smoking. It can damage the skin tissue DNA and may lead to cancer but its more known to increase risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma, a serious form of skin cancer.
During stress there is an increase in adrenaline. Increased adrenaline leads to blood being drawn away from skin, not only reducing oxygen supply but thusly leaving it pale. But stress plays a role in skin care, especially because many habits associated with stress damage the skin. For example, lip biting can tear and damage skin and rubbing and scratching the skin can cause a skin condition called dermatitis. With stress, cortisol levels rise and increases oil production in the skin which can block leading to acne and pimples and like the affects of smoking, stress reduces the healing ability of the skin.
The process of keeping the skin healthy via exercise is based on both the increased blood flow and oxygen supply. The increased blood flow helps nourish the skin and its cells providing us with a healthy skin along with the oxygen that it needs for metabolic processes. With the increased blood flow, a lot of metabolic waste is carried away from skin, kind of like an internal detoxification. This is partly aided by perspiration/sweating although exercise can exacerbate some skin conditions such as rosacea, rash or urticaria and so precaution needs to be taken in those conditions among others.
Hygiene impacts the health of the skin. We all have our own personal regimens but some standard basics are set for maintaining good healthy skin which involves the following:
- washing your face in the morning and at night with cleanser, warm water and a clean wash cloth
- Occasionally use a scrub to rid your skin of excess dead skin and bring out the healthier skin underneath.
- moisturise daily, preferably after washing your face.
- washing hair regularly (e.g., every 2-3 days).
The idea of bad hygiene affecting skin is basically allowing the opportunity for an organism to cause damage to skin or break the skin barrier, blocking pore or not clearing the excess accumulated fat. Scrubbing is important as it allows newer cells to come up from the lower layers of the skin and also increases circulation of the skin increasing nourishment to the skin.
Nutrition & Water
Your skin may reflect your diet. Eating a well-balanced diet helps insure that your body gets all the vitamins it needs to maintain a healthy skin. A diet rich in anti-oxidants, such as vitamins C, E and A, are affective against free radicals. Free radicals attack and damage collagen and elastin which act as framework for our skin. Vitamin E together with vitamin C helps reduce damage to sun exposure and reduces risk of developing skin cancer. The following nutrients help the skin:
- Vitamin A – Helps maintain healthy, smooth skin and hair. Vitamin A promotes healing and reduces scarring and protects against the sun. It can be effective against skin conditions such as psoriasis, acne, wrinkles, age spots, impetigo boils and carbuncles. Reduced levels may cause a flaky dry complexion. Can be found in liver, carrots, yellow fruits and vegetables, milk, eggs, fish liver and orange fruits.
- Vitamin B complex – plays a role in keeping skin moist. Can be found in eggs, milk, fish, soya beans, whole grains , red meat
- Vitamin C – Keeps skin smooth, helps build collagen and can be found in citruis fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, leafy and green vegetables, oranges and red and green peppers red berries and spinach.
- Vitamin D – Helps keep skin healthy. (This “sunshine vitamin” is also manufactured by the skin with the help of sunlight). Can also be found in egg yolks, fish oils and fortified foods like milk
- Vitamin E – Helps protect cell membranes against sun damage and prevents wrinkles, smoothens and repair skin. Also helps against dry skin. Can be found in vegetable oils, nuts, leafy greens, whole grain cereals, spinach
- Vitamin K helps against circles under the eye, decreases wrinkles, helps against bruises and stretch marks.
- Selenium – Helps protect against sun damage and preserves skin elasticity, and aids in cancer prevention. Can be found inwhole grain cereals, sea-food, garlic and eggs.
- Zinc – help in healing cuts and scrapes by helping renewing skin, maintains collagen and protects cell membranes. Lack of zinc can lead to stretch marks and dandruff. Can be found in red meat, whole grains, eggs, nuts, seeds, lentils and peas.
- Omega-3s – help maintain cell membranes so that they, in turn, are able to retain more water and nutrient and it may also help protect against the damaging effects of the sun. Can be found in fish, walnuts, soybeans, flax seed and flax seed oil.
Water is the most important nutrient we consume. The human body is anywhere from 55 to 75 percent water. Without water, we could not survive. It is recommended that people drink 8 glasses, approximately 2 litres, of water a day. Water aides in reducing your wrinkles and helps remove wastes and toxins that may accumulate, while supplying nutrients at the same time. It gets rid of circles underneath your eyes and keeps the skin moist. Water also keeps your skin moist and allows an increase blood supply to tissues including the skin.