The Food-Vitamin Connection to Healthy Skin continued...
If you're also looking for protection from UV damage -- the effects of the sun that can not only age the skin, but also increase your risk of skin cancer -- McDermott suggests foods that combine vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids - such as nuts and whole grains.
"When found together in foods, studies suggest they may play a role in reducing skin damage, and in reducing the production of cancer cells," says McDermott. While she is quick to point out that the research is still in the early stages, she tells WebMD that the results thus far make a compelling case for dietary protection.
Whole Foods and Your Skin
Now if you're tempted to skip some of the dietary considerations in favor of nutritional supplements, don't be so quick to unscrew that bottle cap. While it's clear that certain nutrients can play a role in healthy skin, today, researchers are much inclined to suggest that it's really the total number of components found in whole foods that give skin the most powerful health boost.
"Taking just one nutrient alone will not give you good skin -- you have to have a balance, which is not only essential to the health of your skin, but it prevents an imbalance from occurring -- and an imbalance is what contributes to inflammation," says Linker.
McDermott tells WebMD the need for whole foods may go even deeper than that.
"There are over 1,300 phytochemicals - beta-carotene, for example, is only one of 500 carotenoids -- and the more we find out the more we realize how much we need all the components working together," she says. Whole foods, notes McDermott, "provide the entire consort of micronutrients and phytochemicals needed by the skin for optimum performance," one reason she says variety is the key.
Heller agrees: "There are things you can get from fruits that you can't get from vegetables, and vice versa -- so it's important to vary your diet as much as you can."
When it comes to washing down all those great whole foods, nothing may be quite as beneficial for skin as water. While recent research questioned the need for the traditional eight glasses a day, when it comes to skin health, experts say hydration is still key.