Recognition of the impact of biotin on nails led me to think about other ways nutrition can affect skin health. There are of course dozens of food based beauty claims, like salmon, berries and olive oil hold the key to beautiful skin. Are there any respected peer-reviewed studies that show what if any foods can affect how your skin ages?
The short answer is yes. And the most impressive data comes from the iconic National Helath and Education study (NHANES). This massive ( 32,000 adults) nationwide study examined food intakes and evaluated them in terms of many health problems like heart disease, cancer, and blood pressure, and fortuneately for us, skin aging.
NHANES looked at three key signs of aging — wrinkles, dryness, and saging. Their conclusions sent me running to the nearest supermarket. The #1 beauty nutrient turned out to be vitamin C. Women who reported the highest vitamin C intake had the fewest signs of skin aging. That’s really not that surprising, since vitamin C is well-known for its role in collagen formation. In addition vitamin C is an anti-oxidant that reverses UV damage.
But it get even more interesting. These benefits were seen only where diets were rich in vitamin C, not where vitamin levels had been elevated by supplements. In other words, its in that glass of OJ or bowl of tomato soup that delivers this beauty vitamin.
The Recommend Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is a modest 60mg– the amount in a small cup of strawberries. Recent research suggests that 3-5 times the RDA may be additionally beneficial to health. Best sources of vitamin C include broccoli, cauiflower, red bell peppers, red cabbage, berries and of course oranges.