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Healthy Skin

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A multitude of skin problems, including eczema, acne, dermatitis (inflammatory conditions of the skin), hives (raised blotchy welts) and rashes have been linked to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals.

A multitude of skin problems, including eczema, acne, dermatitis (inflammatory conditions of the skin), hives (raised blotchy welts) and rashes have been linked to deficiencies in vitamins and minerals.

Your skin protects you from the harm of everyday life. However, when your body becomes low on essential nutrients for prolonged periods of time, cell membranes are damaged by the formation of reactive oxygen molecules, better known as free radicals.

You can slow this damage to the connective tissue, which leads to bags sags and wrinkles, by increasing your intake of free radical-scavenging antioxidants: vitamins C and E and beta carotene. They neutralize free radicals and shield your skin from harm.

Vitamin C helps fight wrinkles and helps the body make the collagen used to create connective tissue. At least a gram a day (1,000 mg) is suggested. Better still is a half-gram (500 mg) or more, twice daily. For smokers and people 60 years or older, higher dosages are recommended. Zinc and selenium also fight damage to the skin and work with vitamin C in making collagen.

According to New York dermatologist Karen Burke, MD, PhD, minerals have a role in wound healing. Zinc supports the tissue rebuilding actions of vitamin A. Selenium reduces the risk of ultraviolet-induced skin cancer, is an excellent free radical scavenger and enhances vitamin E absorption. Many patients who suffer from acne also have low levels of zinc.

Vitamin B6 and essential fatty acids (EFAs) like evening primrose oil also improve acne-troubled skin. Vitamin B6 assists women who experience acne flare-ups before and during menstruation because it helps to regulate hormone levels, increase oxygen flow to the reproductive organs and reduce water retention. Vitamin A virtually eliminates acne in mild cases by reducing the production of sebum, a pore-clogging oil. Vitamin E helps vitamin A absorption.

Essential fatty acids fight skin inflammation because they increase tissue resiliency and lubrication.

All of these nutrients should come from fresh whole organic foods as much as possible, but it's important to supplement. The Encyclopedia of Natural Healing suggests you start with 10,000 IU of vitamin A daily. (Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive shouldn't take high doses of vitamin A because of the increased risk of birth defects.) Also recommended is 400 IU of vitamin E every day.

Healthy Glow Food Sources

The best way to get your essential nutrients is through whole organic foods. Below is a list of skin-friendly nutrients and the foods that contain them.

  • Vitamin A fish liver oil, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, dark green leafy vegetables
  • Vitamin B complex bran, blackstrap molasses, brown rice, brewer's yeast, nori
  • Vitamin B12 oily fish, eggs, yogurt
  • Vitamin C citrus fruits, rose hips, red and green peppers, broccoli, bean sprouts
  • Calcium cultured milk products such as yogurt and kefir, broccoli, cauliflower, almonds, pinto beans, adzuki beans, soybeans
  • Vitamin E freshly pressed safflower oil
  • Essential fatty acid freshly ground flax seeds, freshly pressed flax seed oil, evening primrose oil, fish
  • Folic acid green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, chard, beet greens), bean sprouts
  • Iron wheat, millet, oats, brown rice
  • Magnesium dark green vegetables, whole grains, cultured non genetically engineered soy products, dried apricots, avocados
  • Protein legumes, grains, soy foods in moderation
  • Selenium garlic, onions, brewer's yeast, Brazil nuts
  • Zinc oysters, pecans, pumpkin seeds, whole wheat flour, rye flour, oat flour
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