Foods to Help Keep Your Skin Healthy

How what you eat and drink can affect your skin

From the WebMD Archives


On a physical level, the best way to slow the appearance of skin aging is to keep skin well-hydrated with a nice layer of lipid (fat) beneath the skin to protect the internal moisture. Some experts say you can do this in part by eating a healthy diet that includes some "smart" fats (omega-3s and monounsaturated fat), drinking plenty of water, and having a good skin-care regimen to condition the skin and minimize moisture loss. It's all about keeping the skin healthy from the inside AND the outside.

"Your skin is a reflection of your underlying health, so good nutrition, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, staying hydrated, etc., all play a role in creating better-looking skin," says Rubin.

G.G. Papadeas, DO, a member of the American Academy of Dermatology, adds "no excessive drinking" (of alcohol) to this healthy lifestyle list.

So what foods should you choose to boost your chances of having healthy skin? Read on for a list of skin-friendly nutrients and the foods that are richest in them.

1. Antioxidants

Many dermatologists believe that the major antioxidants (vitamin A, C, and E) can help decrease the risk of sun and other environmental damage by disarming wrinkle-causing "free radicals" -- unstable molecules that damage cells.

Vitamin A. A recent study of healthy men and women in the Netherlands found a significant link between the level of vitamin A in the blood and skin condition. Getting your carotenoids (phytochemicals that your body converts to vitamin A) from foods is your safest bet, because you're far more likely to get too much vitamin A from supplements than from foods rich in carotenoids.

Top food sources of vitamin A include carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, mangoes, spinach, cantaloupe, greens, kale, Swiss chard, and tomato-vegetable juice.

Vitamin C. Vitamin C is a potent topical (that is, on-the-skin) antioxidant, but only in its active form -- the same form you get from food. Of course, including vitamin-C rich fruits and vegetables in your daily diet is a good thing to be doing for your health, anyway.