Nutrients Important For Healthy Skin, And Foods They Are Found In

Photo credit: rawpixel

Photo credit: rawpixel

How is skin health related to nutrition and detoxification? Problems with digestion and the gut can lead to leaky gut. Leaky gut allows food particles and toxins to escape the digestive tract and make their way into the blood stream, where they trigger an immune response. This immune response can manifest in a wide variety of ways, including as skin conditions.

Digestive imbalances and impaired gut health also can cause a deficiency in nutrients needed for skin health, as well as overall health. Poor gut health and dysfunction, leaky gut, and nutrient deficiency can adversely affect detoxification processes in the liver (poor detoxification capacity results).

When we have a build of up toxins that cannot be excreted through normal routes (the liver is our major detox organ), those toxins will make their way out somehow, often that somehow is through the skin, and this can cause all sorts of skin conditions.

If you suffer with skin issues like eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis (among others), you likely have digestive and gut imbalances and dysfunction, leaky gut, and impaired detoxification capacity.

Keep in mind that common food triggers for eczema include gluten, dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter), and eggs. Dairy products also adversely affect the lining of your gut, contributing to leaky gut. Yogurt in particular is not eczema friendly because it can be loaded with extra sugar, and it contains histamine (amines) because it's fermented where histamine is also a trigger for skin problems. Grapes, oranges, kiwi, soy, tomato, avocado, broccoli, dried fruit, deli meat/processed meat, and junk food can all wreak havoc for your eczema. Foods noted below are examples of those that contain nutrients important for skin health. If you suffer from eczema avoiding the common trigger foods may help, and determining which components of certain foods cause your reactions can help as well as they can be found in a very wide range of foods. Histamine and amine foods, salicylates, oxalates, nightshades, citrus foods, among others are often offenders in eczema sufferers.

Discovering your personal triggers may take some trial and error, everyone is different. A qualified health care practitioner skilled in the functional approach to medicine, like a functional and clinical nutritionist, can guide you through the appropriate testing and interventions customized for your case.  

Incorporate these nutrients into your diet for healthy skin and detoxification

Nutrients important for healthy skin/skin barrier: Carotenoids (Vitamin A, Beta-Carotene), Zinc, Vitamin C, Biotin, Calcium, Selenium, Silica, B3, K2, Sulfur, Essential Fatty Acids (omega 3 and 6), Flavonoids, Polyphenols, Peptides, Protein, Vitamin E, B5, Vitamin D, CoQ10, Probiotics, Prebiotics, Curcumin, Resveratrol, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate)

Nutrients important for detoxification Phase I: B2, B3, B6, Folate, B12, Glutathione, Branched Chain Amino Acids, Flavonoids, Phospholipids

Nutrients important for detoxification Phase II: Glycine, Taurine, Glutamine, N-acetylcysteine, Cysteine, Methionine

Important antioxidants that support intermediary metabolites (between Phases I and II):  Vitamin A (carotenoids), Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, Copper, Zinc, Manganese, CoQ10, Thiols, Flavonoids, Silymarin, Pycnogenol

Foods containing nutrients for skin health and detoxification

Peptides: Food derived bioactive peptides include milk, egg, fish and meat, soybean, grains (corn, rice, wheat)

Protein: High-quality proteins of any kind are the best choice, including lean, grass-fed, organic, non-GMO sources. Remember to choose wild-caught  fish, as farmed varieties may contain hormones and toxic chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

Vegetarian: miso, natto, tofu, tempeh, rice/hemp/pea protein powders, plant based burger alternatives

Omnivores: eggs, fish, meat, poultry

B2: Spinach, tempeh, crimini mushrooms, eggs, asparagus, turkey 

B3: Tuna, chicken, turkey, salmon, lamb, beef, sardines, brown rice 

B5: Chicken liver, sunflower seeds, salmon, avocado, sun dried tomatoes, corn, mushrooms

B6: Tuna, turkey, beef, chicken, salmon, sweet potato, potato, sunflower seeds, spinach 

Folate: Liver, chicken giblets, egg yolk, dried beans, lentils, split peas, potatoes, sweet potatoes, spinach, beet root, Brussels sprouts, dark leafy greens, kale, bok choy, asparagus, oranges, peaches 

B12: B12 is found naturally only in animal products. Choose methylcobalamin for supplemental source, sardines, salmon, tuna, cod, lamb, beef, liver, chicken, fish, eggs, rainbow trout, haddock

Biotin: Eggs, legumes, meats, oily fish, chicken, liver

Vitamin A: Beef liver, cod liver oil, egg, butter, milk, sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, cantaloupe, mango, spinach, broccoli, kale, collard greens, butternut squash (essentially all red, orange, yellow, and green plant foods)

Vitamin C: All will be higher in vitamin C if uncooked: Bell peppers, papaya, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kiwi 

Vitamin D: Salmon, herring and sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna (lower in mercury), oysters, egg yolk, mushrooms

Vitamin E: Sunflower seeds, spinach, Swiss chard, avocados, turnip greens, asparagus, mustard greens 

Vitamin K2: Grass fed butter, egg yolk, liver,  sauerkraut, and it’s made by gut bacteria

Zinc: Beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, lentils, garbanzo beans, quinoa, turkey 

Copper: Mushrooms (shiitake), sunflower seeds, garbanzo beans, lentils, lima beans

Selenium: Tuna, sardines, salmon, turkey, cod, chicken, lamb, beef

Calcium (non dairy sources): Seeds, canned salmon, sardines, beans, lentils, almonds, some leafy greens (collard, spinach, kale), amaranth

Manganese: Cloves, gluten-free oats, brown rice, garbanzo beans, spinach, pumpkin seeds

Silica: Leeks, green beans, garbanzo beans, strawberries, cucumber, mango, celery, asparagus, rhubarb, Fiji brand water

Sulfur: Chicken, haddock, sardine, cod, beef, dried peaches, egg, turkey, spinach, onion, Brussels sprouts, chickpeas, figs, beans/peas, leeks, endive, potatoes 

Flavonoids (a class of polyphenols): Virtually all plant foods, including apples, apricots, blueberries, pears, raspberries, strawberries, black beans, onions, parsley, pinto beans, tomatoes 

Curcumin: Turmeric, curry powder, mango ginger 

Resveratrol: Grapes, red and white wine, peanuts, pistachios, blueberries, cranberries, cocoa, dark chocolate

EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate): Green, oolong, and black teas, carob flour, pecans, filberts, hazelnuts, raw cranberries, pistachios

CoQ10: Meat, poultry, fish 

DHA and EPA (Essential Fatty Acids/Omega 3s/healthy fats): Cell membranes are made of cholesterol and phospholipids, need to make sure there are plenty of healthy fats in your diet daily, and essential fatty acids reduce inflammation, and assist with gut and skin healing. Flaxseed, eggs, fish and fish oils, marine sources (sea vegetables/seaweeds), avocado, coconut oil

Glutathione: Undenatured whey protein, asparagus, curcumin/turmeric, avocado, spinach, garlic, foods high in vitamin C (e.g., citrus fruits) and selenium

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA): Whey protein, chicken, fish, eggs

Phospholipids: Sunflower seeds, eggs 

Glycine: Beef, chicken, lamb 

Taurine: Meat, fish

Glutamine: Beef, chicken, fish, eggs, beets, beans, spinach, parsley 

N-Acetylcysteine: Most high-protein foods (e.g., chicken), garlic, cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, arugula)

Cysteine: Beef, chicken, lamb, fish 

Methionine: Egg white/whole eggs, chicken, tuna, beef, chickpeas, pinto beans, lentils, brown rice

Thiols: Chives, daikon radishes, garlic, leeks, onions, scallions, shallots 

Silymarin: Artichokes, milk thistle

Pycnogenol: Small amounts found in the peels, skins, or seeds of grapes, blueberries, cherries, plums 

Avoid high mercury fish

High mercury fish: Bluefish, grouper, mackerel (Spanish, Gulf, King), marlin, orange roughy, sea bass (Chilean), shark, swordfish, tilefish, and tuna (canned albacore, yellowfin, bigeye, ahi)

Low mercury fish: anchovies, butterfish, catfish, croaker (Atlantic),  flounder, haddock (Atlantic), hake, herring, mackerel (North Atlantic, chub), mullet, perch (ocean), pollock, salmon (fresh, wild), sardines, sole (Pacific), squid, tilapia, trout (freshwater), whitefish, and whiting

Protein and collagen supplements

Collagen: Provides skin and gut barrier support.

Protein: Provides much needed amino acids. In a state of "illness" or rather chronic inflammation/chronic immune responses your body has higher protein needs. Protein is needed to build all cells and structures in the body, including those involved in skin. 

General recommendations

Go organic when possible for fruits and vegetables.

Go organic, pastured, free range, grass fed, wild caught, etc. for animal products.

Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day.