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Nutrients for Healthy Skin: Inside and Out

Vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients can give your skin the youthful glow of good health.

Minerals Beneficial for Skin Nutrition

Mary Sullivan, RN, the co-founder of Olympian Labs, says most of us don't need to supplement our mineral intake, particularly if we already take a multivitamin. This is even truer, she says, if you drink spring water, which often contains healthful, natural supplies of important minerals. Studies show that washing your face with mineral water can help reduce many common skin irritations, and the mineral content may help some skin cells absorb the moisture better.

Selenium. A number of scientists believe this mineral plays a key role in skin cancer prevention. Taken in supplement form or used in a cream, this mineral helps protect skin from sun damage. If you do spend any time in the sun, selenium could help reduce your chance of burning.

In studies in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 1996, researchers showed that skin cancer patients who ingested 200 micrograms of selenium per day had:

  • 37% fewer malignancies
  • 50% reduced risk of death from skin cancer
  • 17% decrease in overall mortality

In still more research published in the French journal Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed in 1991, researchers found that oral selenium as well as copper helped reduce the formation of sunburn cells in human skin.

The best dietary sources of selenium include whole-grain cereals, seafood, garlic, and eggs.

Copper. Still another important mineral is copper. Together with vitamin C and the mineral zinc, copper helps to develop elastin, the fibers that support skin structure from underneath.

A deficiency of this mineral is rare, and doctors caution that supplements can be dangerous. So it is generally not advised to consume extra copper. But topical applications of copper-rich creams aren't associated with the same kind of problems. What's more, they have been found to firm the skin and help restore some elasticity, according to four studies presented at the American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting in 2002.

The research, conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, found that when compared with a popular skin care treatment and a placebo, a cream containing copper peptides demonstrated rapid, visual overall improvements in skin roughness, clarity, fine lines, wrinkling, and overall photodamage. In similar studies, this same team of researchers found that copper peptides noticeably improved skin elasticity and thickness.

Zinc. The third skin-friendly mineral is zinc, important if you have acne. In fact, sometimes acne itself is a symptom of a zinc deficiency. Taken internally or used topically, zinc works to clear skin by taming oil production and may be effective in controlling the formation of acne lesions or help those already on your skin to clear sooner. Food sources of zinc include oysters, lean meat, and poultry.

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