Go with the glow
By Warren Maginn
Have you been conned into investing in the latest miracle creams and serums that promise to smooth those wrinkles and diminish those blemishes?
Most of us do so to perfect our beauty regime, but do we really need to? Nutrition plays a vital role in getting that healthy glow in our skin. Great skin often comes with good nutrition; you have to nourish your health from the inside.
The human body cannot manufacture all of the good fats and nourishment it needs to give that perfect glow to your skin. As typical western diets do not provide us with the nutrients we need, essential fatty acids (EFAs) and other beneficial vitamins can sometimes only be consumed through supplementation.
5 essential supplements that can help create a healthy glow
Omega-3s are crucial for overall good health throughout the body. They are found in all cell membranes, keeping them healthy and working properly. If you are deficient in omega-3 the membranes will become less flexible, adversely affecting the overall health of your body and the appearance of your skin.
Omega-3s keep the skin hydrated, thus helping maintain healthy skin.1 Omega-3s may help soothe scaly rough skin at the cellular level2 , and can improve bloodflow and support the elasticity of red blood cells, thereby providing more oxygen to nourish the skin. This essential fatty acid may also assist with the production of strong collagen and elastin fibres in the dermis to support vital, vibrant-looking skin.
The human body cannot manufacture omega-3. It can only be consumed through diet and supplementation. Unfortunately, not everyone consumes the minimum amount of EFAs required to prevent deficiency.
A vast body of research (over 8,000 clinical studies to date) supports the need for omega- 3s for health and the reality that people all over the world are lacking in these essential nutrients.
Omega-6 is technically essential, and much like the omega-3s can indeed assist with supporting the integrity of hair, skin and nails. However, as omega-6 promotes inflammation, it is important that its consumption is balanced with ample omega-3 intake.
Additionally, omega-6 is usually abundant in our everyday diet, especially in processed foods like refined vegetable oils, and processed or fast food. Omega-3 is rarely found in the modern diet. Since we consume so much omega-6, we often need to focus on consuming enough omega-3 to balance out our essential fatty acid levels for optimal health.
However, there is one unique and very special omega-6 – the ‘anti-inflammatory’ gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) - that is found in evening primrose and borage flower oil. This fatty acid provides us with all the upsides of the other omega-6, but without the downsides.
GLA benefits the skin as it supports the membranes. Studies have shown that increased levels of GLA in elderly patients lead to a reduction of skin water loss and to improved skin function. There is evidence that taking a premiumquality purified fish oil supplement combined with GLA is an effective way of obtaining omega-3s, and supporting your skin daily. When selecting a fish oil supplement, opt for one in triglyceride form for better absorption. An effective omega-3 supplement should also be supported by scientific testing.
Zinc is essential for optimal skin nutrition as it mends wounds, has anti-inflammatory mechanisms, and helps protect against UV radiation.3 When your body is deficient of zinc, your skin is the first to suffer, which may increase signs of blemishes on the face. To avoid zinc deficiency it is important to avoid stress, coffee, tea or excessively highfibre diets as these can deplete zinc levels in the body.
Zinc can be obtained from oysters, watercress salad, beans, chickpeas and red meat. 4 However, supplementation will help ensure that you are getting sufficient amounts of zinc in your daily diet.
Vitamin C encourages cell growth and promotes skin regeneration. It has been shown to counter the effects from sun exposure by reducing the damage of free radicals from pollution, sunlight and smoke. Free radicals can damage the skin as they consume collagen and elastin which are integral in slowing down the ageing process. Vitamin C is readily obtained through a diet rich in vegetables and citrus fruits. While small and regular doses of vitamin C are sufficient for steady support, supplementation may be useful in some diets.
Selenium acts as an antioxidant that assists with tissue elasticity, and helps to prevent cell damage by free radicals.5 Dietary sources of selenium include seafood such as tuna and salmon, garlic, Brazil nuts and eggs. Brazil nuts are perhaps the best source, and eating just 3-4 Brazil nuts per day provides adequate selenium intake for most people.
Most of the time we think about what we eat as an end goal to weight loss but what we eat can also have a big impact on our skin health.
B.H.S.c. (Nutr. Med.), Grad.Cert. (Hum. Nutr.)
Functional and Nutritional Medicine Practitioner and Educator
Warren is a Clinical Nutritionist who specialises in the treatment of chronic immune disorders, nutritional deficiencies and hormonal imbalances through the principles of Functional & Integrative Medicine. Warren holds a bachelor degree in Nutritional Medicine and a graduate certificate in Human Nutrition from Deakin University. Warren lectures students of Nutritional Medicine in Brisbane and is the National Technical Educator for Research Nutrition (an Australian-based Functional Medicine advisory), supporting naturopathic and medical practitioners in theiruse of functional pathology testing and associated supplement prescriptions, as the basis to modern integrative health management. Warren is also a spokesperson for Nordic Naturals.
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