This year I’ve been really focused on taking better care of my skin. I’ve ditched chemical-laden beauty products in favor of homemade 100% natural products and so far I’ve been happy with the results. While I’m taking better care of what I put on my skin, it’s also important to nourish my skin from within. Here’s a guide to the essential vitamins you need for beautiful skin and how to get them into your diet with yummy spring produce.
Vitamins A, C, E, K and B Complex are the most beneficial for beautiful, healthy skin. Luckily, some of the best natural sources of those vitamins happen to be spring fruit and veggies. Another great reason to chow down!
Let’s take a look at each vitamin, what it does and how to get it.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant found in abundance in papaya, bell peppers, pineapple, strawberries, citrus fruits, broccoli and leafy greens. Studies show that foods high in vitamin C can help protect skin from harmful UV rays by increasing the effectiveness of sunscreen. It is also required to build collagen – actually our bodies can’t do it without vitamin C.
As we age, our bodies lose the ability to produce collagen at the same rate as when we were young. Adding that extra vitamin C can help reduce sagging skin, fine lines and wrinkles. Getting enough vitamin C also boosts immunity. In addition to eating your daily dose, look for topical skin creams with included vitamin C for even more anti-aging benefits. You can also dab your skin with a little fresh lemon juice to help reduce age spots.
The vitamin C is best acquired from the very freshest fruits and veggies. The amount of vitamin C declines after the produce has been picked or cooked. Eat raw, locally grown veggies and fruit for the highest amounts of natural vitamin C.
Best Vitamin C sources in spring produce:
Kale and other leafy greens, broccoli, oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, parsley, cauliflower, spinach, fennel, peas, carrots, kiwi fruit and papaya.
Chances are you know all about the power of vitamin E for beautiful skin. A lot of lotions and other skin care products include antioxidant, fat soluble vitamin E (tocopheryl) because it protects against free radicals and helps repairs the skin. It also teams up with vitamin C.
Our bodies cannot make vitamin E, so it’s important to get enough through our diet. Nuts and seeds contain the highest amounts of vitamin E, but so do spring favorites asparagus, avocado, chard, beet and turnip greens. Add a little fat to your meal when eating these foods high in vitamin E for better absorption.
Best vitamin E sources in spring produce:
Beets, avocado, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, kiwi fruit, collards and leeks.
Retinoids are a derivative of vitamin A and can produce amazing results for skin, including helping erase wrinkles and treating acne. Our bodies convert the beta-carotene from orange fruits and vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, mangoes, and peaches, and other dark fruits and veggies like beets and spinach, into retinoic acid, or uses vitamin A as an antioxidant.
In either case, our skin benefits from the extra boost of A, as do our eyes. Too much vitamin A isn’t a good thing either, but getting enough from a diet rich in colorful fruits and veggies should help you get what you need.
Best vitamin A sources in spring produce:
Sweet potatoes (available year round), leafy greens (kale, collards, spinach, turnip, mustard, and beet greens), romaine lettuce, papaya, leeks, grapefruit, green peas, asparagus and broccoli.
There are eight B vitamins – B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin or niacin amide), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid), and B12 (cobalamin). Together they are collectively called “B complex.”
B vitamins have great benefits to hair, skin and nails. Deficiencies can lead to dry, brittle nails, hair and skin issues. Niacin can improve the ability of the outermost layer of skin, the epidermis, to retain moisture. This can lead to softer skin with less dryness and flaking, as well as providing some reduction in fine lines.
One clue to a deficiency in B vitamins can be the skin’s appearance. If you suffer from chronic skin issues such as discoloration, dry patches, a dull complexion or acne, it’s worth finding out if there is a deficiency. A daily supplement of B complex can be a good way to add in those extra vitamins, but so can eating a diet rich in foods naturally containing B vitamins. A lot of B vitamins are found in animal sources such as dried beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds, eggs, chicken, dairy and beef.
Best B vitamin sources in spring produce:
B1: green peas, beet greens, spinach, romaine, broccoli
B2: spinach, beet greens, asparagus, collards, broccoli, chard, turnip greens, kale
B3: asparagus, green peas
B6: spinach, cabbage, bok choy, turnip greens, garlic, cauliflower, bananas
B9: spinach, avocado, broccoli, asparagus, lettuce, oranges
B12: small amounts from mushrooms
Leafy greens are the best natural source of vitamin K, which helps with blood clotting. When it comes to skin, a topical application of vitamin K cream can help minimize spider veins, bruising, scars and stretch marks. It can also help promote faster healing from within.
Getting enough vitamin K2 can help with the skin’s elasticity which can help prevent wrinkles and lines. K2 is available in large amounts from grass fed butter, meat and egg yolks.
Best vitamin K sources in spring produce:
Kale, collards, spinach and all other leafy greens.