The warm weather is here and we know you’ll be showing some skin! So we brought in guest expert, Summer Kramer, Founder of SUMMERSKIN to share with you about how to use nutrition to protect your skin and keep it beautiful!
Your skin is your largest organ, and the first line of defense against the environment and outside world.
Nutrition is a key component to maintaining healthy skin. Dietary and topical applications of nutrients can work together to help improve the skin’s ability to defend against the daily challenges of being our natural barrier.
Let’s get down to the nitty gritty!
Our skin is made up of two layers, the epidermis and the dermis. The epidermis is the outer most layer of the skin and the functional barrier to the outside environment. Melanocytes, found in the epidermis, are the cells that produce melanin which are responsible for the tanning effect of skin and provide a level of protection from ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun.
The dermis is the inner most layer of the skin and provides the structural and nutritional support to the epidermis. Most of the dermis is made up of a protein called collagen, which maintains the strength and elasticity of the skin.
It is thought that the signs of aging and wrinkles develop as the level of collagen is reduced in the dermis. Collagen can be reduced or damaged as we age, but loss of collagen can be also accelerated by activities such as smoking, sun exposure and consuming diets deficient in proper nutrients.
You may have heard that free radicals and inflammation can lead to skin damage.
Free radicals are formed when UV light interacts with our skin cells, and can lead to damage of the structural components of skin, such as collagen, and reduce the skin’s natural ability to protect us. As cells become damaged by free radicals, the immune system produces inflammation around those areas to help healing, but prolonged inflammation can cause further damage. Antioxidants can help fight against the production of free radicals in the skin.
Here are the most common antioxidants and nutrients thatkeep our skin at its healthiest:
Vitamin C and Vitamin E
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is one of the most important antioxidants for skin health. Naturally present in both layers of the skin, Vitamin C plays a major role in the production and stabilization of collagen. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that reduces the damage in the skin from free radicals as well as helps to reduce the inflammation. The level of Vitamin C in our skin can be reduced by a lack of dietary consumption and consistent sun exposure.
Vitamin E (α-tocopherol) is essential for skin health for its ability to defend against free radical damage, absorb some of the UV rays from the sun and limit inflammation.
Studies have shown that oral or topical application of both Vitamin C and Vitamin E in combination helps to protect the skin from UV and free radical damage.
Foods with Vitamin cinclude leafy greens, bell peppers, chilli peppers, broccoli, papaya, strawberries, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, pineapple, citrus fruits, kiwi and mango!
Foods with Vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds, spinach, pumpkin, red peppers, collard greens, asparagus, mango, avocado, and peanut butter.
Vitamin D is known as one of the most important vitamins and plays a role throughout our bodies. Vitamin D is produced in the epidermis layer of the skin when the skin is exposed to UV light from the sun. The role of Vitamin D in the skin is to help control the growth of skin cells for proper skin cell replenishment and to prevent overgrowth of skin cells.
In addition, studies have shown that Vitamin D may protect against certain cancers due to its ability to control cell overgrowth. Vitamin D is also critical for regulating Calcium levels in our systems, and helping to absorb dietary Calcium, which is why you will often see Calcium supplements formulated with Vitamin D.
On average, 15 minutes of sun exposure on arms and legs twice a week is typically sufficient to produce the proper level of Vitamin D in our system. However, many factors affect the level of Vitamin D production in our skin, such as the weather, season, time of day, latitude, amount of skin exposed, sunscreen, age, natural skin color, and the list goes on.
One of the safest and most reliable ways to maintain Vitamin D is through diet, both through food and supplements. Foods with Vitamin D include: fatty fish, cheese, and egg yolks.
Essential Fatty Acids
Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids as they are ‘essential’ for skin and overall health. Both fatty acids provide the necessary lipid building blocks for the layers of the skin. Omega-6 is the primary fatty acid in the epidermal layer providing the barrier function, and Omega-3 is most common in the dermal layer and functions to protect collagen and reduce inflammation.
Essential fatty acids cannot be made by the body, we must obtain them from our diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish oil and flaxseed oil, where omega-6 fatty acids are found in such oils as sunflower seed and safflower.
Studies have shown that with daily intake of green tea, which contains high amounts of flavonoids, may improve blood flow and delivery of nutrients to the skin, improvements in skin appearance and added protection from the negative effects of sun exposure.
Here are some amazing recipes that your skin will thank you for:
Turmeric Mango Smoothie – a sweet way to start your morning with power packed Vitamin C and the mega powerful antioxidant, Turmeric.
Loaded Baked Sweet Potato – Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of dietary Vitamin A and can be loaded with all kinds of yummy and healthy toppings. This recipe is a favorite with avocado and goat cheese.
Salmon Burgers with Green Goddess Sauce – rich with Omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamin D, and pair with a green salad with tomatoes and avocados for Vitamin C and E.
Summer Kramer, PharmD is a pharmacist, melanoma survivor and mom, as well as the founder of SUMMERSKIN. Being diagnosed with melanoma at 26 years old, she found herself in the position of limited UPF apparel options and thus being forced to choose between her health and her style. Summer created SUMMERSKIN to provide stylish sun protective apparel and accessories, so you can have fun in the sun while protecting your skin and health, and maintaining your individual style. Her motto in life and in business is to “follow the path of happiness. Find your people, your style, your passion and embrace them with all your heart.” - YourSummerSkin.com