Nutritional status plays an essential role in the maintenance of healthy skin. Changes in nutritional status affects skin structure and function thereby affecting appearance. Nutrients such as carbohydrates, protein, fat, and micronutrients like vitamins and minerals work together to maintain the barrier functions of the skin.
Skin being largest organ of the body protects the inner organs and tissue from the outside environment by acting as a physical and chemical barrier. The upper layer of the skin called as epidermis, is responsible for many of the barrier functions of skin.
Nutritional deficiencies are often associated with skin health disorders. Daily diets can positively or negatively influence skin conditions. There are several challenges to skin health such as photo damage (exposure to UV rays), dry skin, skin laxity, wound healing and skin aging etc.
Nutrition for skin
The primary fuel for skin cells is glucose. Amino acids are essential for the production of both dermal and epidermal structures, producing the extracellular matrix proteins and enzymes needed for the synthesis of the epidermal barrier.
Since the skin is exposed to higher concentrations of oxygen, UV light and oxidizing chemicals, antioxidants has an important role in maintaining skin health.
The following are nutrients beneficial for skin health.
- Vitamin C- The antioxidant properties of vitamin C (ascorbic acid) and its role in collagen synthesis make vitamin C a vital molecule for skin health.
- Zinc- It has anti- inflammatory effects, photo protecting soothing agents and protects the skin from UV induced damages.
- Vitamin E- A fat-soluble antioxidant that is essential for the maintenance of healthy skin
- Vitamin A- It has photo protective effects and deficiency leads to delayed wound healing.
- Fatty acids- Omega-6 (n-6) and omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) play a critical role in normal skin function and appearance.
Oral nutrition vs Topical supplementation
The epidermal layers of the skin do not contain blood vessels that supply the cells with nutrients; blood vessels are found only in the dermis. Unique among organs, the skin may be directly affected by the use of topical applications of nutrients. Nevertheless, intakes of these nutrients in the diet is necessary to achieve good skin health.
- Srilakshmi, B. (2002). Dietetics (Revised. New age international publication).
- Srilakshmi, B. (2002). Nutrition Science (Revised. New age international publication.
- Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging. Schagen, S. K., Zampeli, V. A., Makrantonaki, E., & Zouboulis, C. C. Dermato-endocrinology
- The role of diet in maintaining healthy skin. Mirjana Paravina. Journal of Dermatology & Cosmetology