Certain nutrients such as vitamins A, B2, C, D, E and the minerals zinc, iron and selenium play a key role in the maintenance of healthy skin and a diet lacking in any of these may affect the condition of your skin.
Interestingly, research carried out by the University of St. Andrews found that eating more fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids (orange and green) positively affected skin colour, which influences perceptions of health and attractiveness.
Dry, scaly skin
Include more: Almonds, eggs, mackerel, mushrooms, sesame seeds, spinach
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is a member of the B complex group (all of which are important for healthy skin). It is essential for the repair and normal growth of cells and tissues in the body including those of the skin.
The National Diet and Nutrition Survey 1 has shown that 13% of adult women in the UK do not get enough vitamin B2 in their diet.
A deficiency of vitamin B2 can result in dry skin and lesions at the corner of the mouth and on the lips. Whilst a deficiency of vitamin B2 is not that common, it can still exist in older people or those whose diet has been comprised in some way.
Wrinkles and skin ageing
Include more: Red peppers, kale, strawberries, salmon, avocado
Red peppers are a rich source of vitamin C, which is required to maintain healthy skin. Vitamin C is involved in the production of collagen that helps to maintain skin strength and elasticity as well as regeneration and wound healing. Vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant that combats the effect of excess free radicals in the body and research has shown that this nutrient may help to reduce wrinkles and dry skin.2 Other powerful antioxidants include vitamin E, A and selenium.
A further study published in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined the association between diet and skin ageing in 4025 women aged between 40-74 years old and found that lower intakes of vitamin C were associated with a more wrinkled appearance.3
Omega 3 helps to maintain healthy skin cell membranes, which means plumper skin less wrinkled skin as they retain moisture. These essential fatty acids also help to reduce inflammation that may be associated with skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema or acne that can affect women of all ages.
Iron and dull, pale skin
Include more: Lean red meat, pumpkin seeds, lentils, chickpeas, dried spices
Iron is essential to produce red blood cells that carry oxygen around the body. Women are more likely to suffer from iron deficiency than men. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (1) has shown that 27% of adult women have inadequate intakes of iron. Prolonged low intake of this mineral may lead to aneamia and as less blood is getting to the surface of the skin, a diet low in iron can cause a washed out, pale complexion. Aneamia can also result in dry brittle hair and even hair loss.
Prawn and herb salad
This salad is rich in skin nutrients including zinc and vitamins E, C and B2 that can help to tackle the effects of ageing and promote healthy skin.
- Serves 2
- 400 cals per serving
- 1 small bag of ready prepared salad (rocket, spinach, watercress)
- 1 small handful of fresh herbs such as coriander, chives and mint
- 1 small handful of lentil sprouts
- 50g cherry tomatoes, quartered
- ½ small cucumber, deseeded and diced into small cubes
- 1 small avocado, peeled and diced into small cubes
- 1 large spring onion, finely diced
- 165g pack of cooked prawns
- 30ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lime, juiced
- ½ tsp honey
- ½ tsp cumin
- Sea salt
- To make the salad simply place all the ingredients (except dressing) in a large bowl.
- Prepare the dressing by adding the ingredients to a small dish and whisking with a fork.
- Add the dressing to the bowl and gently toss to combine.
- Check for seasoning before serving.