By: Guest Writer, Kimberly Bither, M.S.

We often think of the importance of eating well to stay fit and maintain our weight, but how about our skin?  Healthy skin is just as important as our weight and fitness level.  It’s the largest organ of the body (yes, we don’t think of it as an organ, but it is!) and we need to take care of it to be healthy and look good, especially as we age.

Redheads are known to have extremely sensitive skin and also burn easily. Therefore, it is essential for us redheads to take care of our skin, both through sun protection and proper nutrition. This can make the difference between gray, wrinkled skin, or having skin that glows and looks young.

Here are some key nutrients that help your skin stay healthy and looking fresh:

Zinc:  It helps with controlling oil function in the skin glands and reducing inflammation, helps with wound healing,  and aids in skin tissue regeneration.  Good food sources include oysters (more than 3 times as much as any other food source!), crab meat, beef , lobster, salmon, cashews, sunflower seeds, and bran.

Vitamin C:  Responsible for making collagen, helping to keep your skin firm and moisturized.  Also helps with wound healing.  The best sources of vitamin C are red peppers, black currants, guava, citrus fruits,  strawberries, papaya, and kiwi.  Vegetables high in vitamin C are kale and broccoli.

Vitamin B6:  This particular B vitamin is important for both healthy skin and hair (though all the B vitamins are needed for good skin healthy).  A deficiency can lead to greasy inflammation of the skin around the nose, eyebrows, and hairline (no one wants that!),  Alcohol, smoking, and some anti-depressants may increase your need for the vitamin, too.  Good sources are wheat germ (great sprinkled on yogurt), wheat bran, bananas, chicken, avocado, tuna, and spinach.

Essential Fatty Acids:  These are those omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids we keep hearing about.  EFA’s help keep skin moist, and a deficiency may lead to dry, flaky skin.  The trick with these, is that most people get too many omega-6 fatty acids through oils, but not enough omega-3 fatty acids.  You can increase your omega-3 intake with cold water fish such as halibut, salmon, and herring, and in lesser amounts with tuna and shrimp.  Flaxseed is also a great source.  You can get ground flaxseed and add to yogurt, cereal, smoothies, and any baked recipe.

Antioxidants:  Antioxidants such as vitamin C, already mentioned, and vitamin E, all help fight free radical damage to skin.  Free radical damage is caused by aging, the sun, and chemicals.  To help keep the skin healthy, make sure you get plenty of antioxidants in your diet.

Other Tips for Healthy Skin:

1. Drink plenty of water

2. Avoid tobacco

3. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and fiber

4. Aerobic exercise

5. Sun protection (of course!)

Rock it like a Redhead! 

 

Photo Credit: Kara Kochalko,  © How to be a Redhead