You are what you eat: Consumption of probiotics crucial for healthy skin

March 1, 2009

Eating foods rich in probiotics is a good habit to practice to ensure healthy skin. Vitamins such as C and D enhance epidermal function, and skin hydration is met through consumption of adequate amounts of water.

Key Points

Intestinal health is the most important instrument to ensure health of the epidermis, says Georges Mouton, M.D., a general practitioner who specializes in dietary and nutritional counselling in London.

"We need to treat the insides to see a difference on the outside," Dr. Mouton tells Dermatology Times.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D, found in fish and fortified milk, improves epidermal function and is good for the skin barrier, but there is some controversy regarding appropriate sources of vitamin D, Dr. Mouton says.

While there is much concern over excessive sunlight exposure and links to skin cancer, too little sunlight is not necessarily positive, he says.

In areas of the world where individuals experience cold winters, they are less likely to derive vitamin D from sunlight exposure year-round and need to look to alternative sources of vitamin D.

Vitamins C and A

Vitamin C, rich in such foods as guava, improves epidermal function and is good for the skin barrier, Dr. Mouton says.

Licopene, which is abundant in cooked tomatoes, is photoprotective, as is luteine, a carotenoid that is found in abundant quantities in spinach.

Vitamin A confers immune support and has an antioxidizing impact, Dr. Mouton says.

Minerals

Zinc is found in foods such as oysters but is also in many dermatologic products. Fish oils found in fish such as salmon, halibut, tuna, mackerel and anchovies possess anti-inflammatory properties. It's best to eat fish that is low in mercury, such as salmon.

Selenium is good for the skin and has anti-cancer properties, Dr. Mouton says.

Skin hydration

Skin hydration is met through sufficient consumption of water. Calculating the volume of urine excreted over a 24-hour period indicates if water consumption is adequate, Dr. Mouton says.

Teas, especially in the form of green tea, are rich with polyphenols and beneficial for the skin.

Blood tests

Ideally, individuals should obtain nutrients through consumption of foods rather than vitamin and mineral supplements, according to Dr. Mouton. However, he says, this is clearly not always possible.

The most effective way to measure if patients are deficient in specific vitamins or nutrients is to test their blood, Dr. Mouton says.

"It's better to know what nutrients people are missing before they spend money on supplements to improve their skin," he says.

Disclosure: Dr. Mouton reports no relevant financial disclosures.