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50+: Live Better, Longer

Nourishing Your Skin..

Great Diet, Great Skin
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WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Gary D. Vogin, MD

The skin is the outer reflection of your inner health. Moist, clear, glowing skin is a sign of good diet, while dry, pale, scaly or oily skin may result when diet is not up to par. Fortunately, the eating habits that work best for staying healthy are also the next best thing to a fountain of youth for our skin.

Skin Tonics

Just about every nutrient has a role in maintaining healthy skin. Vitamin C helps build collagen, the "scaffolding" between the tissues of our body. Poor intake of this vitamin can cause bruising, loss of skin strength and elasticity, and poor healing of cuts and scrapes. Just one daily glass of orange juice or a bowl of strawberries supplies all the vitamin C you need. Healthy skin also needs the B vitamins found in whole grains, milk and wheat germ to help speed wound healing and prevent dry, flaky or oily skin. Vitamin A in dark orange or green vegetables and fruits, egg yokes, and liver, maintains epithelial tissues such as skin, thus helping to prevent premature wrinkling or bumpy, sandpaper-like skin. Vitamin D in milk might help curb symptoms of psoriasis. Zinc in meat, seafood, and legumes aids in the healing of cuts and scrapes. Water keeps the skin moist and regulates normal function of the oil glands. The list of nutrients that benefit the skin is almost endless.

Good Oxygen Supply

Your skin needs a constant supply of water and oxygen. But that doesn't mean standing in the air and taking a shower. Rather, these nutrients need to be supplied through blood. A healthy blood supply provides other nutrients as well and removes waste products. It takes an ample amount of many nutrients to build and maintain healthy red blood cells and other blood factors. Those nutrients include protein, iron and copper, plus folic acid, other B vitamins, and vitamins C and E. A deficiency of any of these, especially iron, reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood, suffocating the skin and leaving it pale and drawn.

Fats for the Skin

Some nutrients directly affect the health of your skin. Repairing damaged skin requires protein, zinc, and vitamins A, C, and K. Linoleic acid is a fat in vegetable oils that helps restore damaged skin and maintain smooth, moist skin. On the other hand, a high-fat diet might increase the risk for developing skin cancer. Despite these seemingly contradictory findings, the solution is simple: Consume an overall low-fat diet and follow the guidelines below.

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