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the Top Beauty Nutrients: Part 1 - Vitamins

Health and beauty starts with the food that we eat. The quality of soil where our food is grown plays a huge role in our health and beauty so if the soil is depleted in nutrients, our food is also empty.

The key nutrients involved with outer beauty consist of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), water-soluble vitamins (all of the B-group vitamins and C), phytochemicals, fatty acids, and minerals.

Vitamin A is often linked with healthy vision but also important for healthy, glowing skin. Vitamin A inhibits sebaceous gland activity, limiting acne and blackheads. Vitamin A promotes cell turnover in the skin, decreases inflammation, increases blood flow to the surface of the skin and can lessen the appearance of wrinkles. Vitamin A actually increases the deposition of collage and slows the breakdown of your collagen and elastin.

Lack of vitamin A can cause the skin to become scaly and result in dry eyes. If you have acne, eczema, or psoriasis, you are most likely deficient in vitamin A.

Foods rich in vitamin A include liver and cod liver oil, kidneys, organic butter from grass-fed cows, egg yolks, leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, tomatoes, and certain fruits, such as apricots and grapefruit. Adequate fat at the time of consumption is necessary for optimal absorption e.g. when eating carrots, pair it with nuts, seeds, oily fish, tahini, organic butter or avocado to improve absorption.

Many people are deficient in vitamin D. Especially for Canadians, in a study researchers found a minimal increase in vitamin D levels in the summer. More than 95% of the subjects in this study did not consume the estimated average requirement of vitamin D through their diet alone. Not to mention the various health concerns associated with increased sun exposure.

One reason so many people today are deficient in vitamin D is because of "liver congestion". When the liver is unable to perform it's lifesaving task of detoxification due to the regular consumption of liver loaders such as alcohol, caffeine, trans fats, refined sugars, synthetic substances (pesticides, medications, skin "care"), and infection, other liver-related processes including vitamin D conversion is affected.

Vitamin D controls many processes fundamental for beauty, including skin repair and skin cell production. It is also essential for healthy hair, and hair loss has been associated with vitamin D deficiencies. Vitamin D is crucial for bone health and the prevention of numerous degenerative diseases, including cancer.

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can penetrate through layers of skin, assisting the body with the natural wound-healing process. It also helps to renew skin cells, reduce the appearance of wrinkles, and when applied topically, vitamin E soothes dry, rough skin. Food sources of vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds and avocados.

Research shows that people who are unable to metabolize vitamin K end up with severe premature skin wrinkling. Adequate dietary vitamin K appears to prevent the hardening of our skin's elastin, the protein that gives the skin the ability to spring back, which helps smooth out lines and wrinkles. Optimal vitamin K levels are also believed to assist in the prevention of varicose veins.

Vitamin K is not stored in the body like the other fat-soluble vitamins so must be consumed daily. Although it is produced by healthy intestinal bacteria, humans can develop a deficiency of the vitamin in as few as 7 days on a vitamin-K deficient diet, a situation which is likely to occur even sooner if digestion is compromised. 

Water-Soluble Vitamins

B-group vitamins are crucial to skin health. Vitamin B1 (thiamine) is great for hair and skin because it increases blood flow to the cells. Vitamin B3 (niacimide) and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) are beneficial in the process of skin regeneration, and can help slow the signs of aging skin when consumed daily in the diet. It's useful in treating stubborn acne, pigmentation and dryness.

Folate, a B vitamin and B12 are both necessary for healthy, strong nails and biotin, another B vitamin is essential in the process of creating shiny, lustrous hair. 

Although B-group vitamins are found in many foods, they are water-soluble and delicate. They are easily destroyed, especially by alcohol and cooking. Food processing can also reduce the amount of B-group vitamins in foods, making white flours, breads and rice less nutritious than their whole grain counterparts. 

The body has a limited capacity to store most of the B-group vitamins, except for B12 and folate, which are stored in the liver. A person who has a poor diet for a few months may end up with a B-group vitamin deficiency. Some low-carb diets also lead to a B-group vitamin deficiency so it's important that adequate amounts of these vitamins be eaten regularly. Supplementation with a high-quality B-complex or multi-vitamin supplement has also been shown to be highly beneficial.

Good food sources of vitamin B1 include seeds, particularly sesame seeds, legumes, nuts, savoury yeast and pork. For people who have gluten sensitivity or intolerance, their dietary intake of B-vitamins will be low and most likely need to supplement.

Food sources of vitamin B3 include meats, fish, chicken, eggs, whole grains, nuts, mushrooms and almost all protein-containing foods.

Food sources of vitamin B5 are widespread and found in a range of foods, but some good sources include eggs, meats, savoury yeast, and legumes.

Sources of biotin include egg, chicken, savoury yeast, salmon, sardines, pork, avocado, cauliflower, mushrooms, raspberries, bananas, nuts (such as walnuts, almonds, and pecans), legumes, and whole grains. Food-processing methods destroy biotin so, like other B vitamins, unprocessed foods are a richer source of this nutrient.

Food sources of folate include green leafy vegetables, legumes, seeds, eggs, and citrus fruits. The only food sources of vitamin B12 are those of animal origin.

Vitamin B-deficiency signs are highly varied. Some of the most common and earlier signs include redness and irritation in the skin, particularly around the nose and mouth, cracks at the corners of the mouth, a dermatitis-type rash, particularly when under stress, and hypo- or hyper-pigmentation may occur with chronic low vitamin B-intake. The nails take on a spoon shape with B12 and folate deficiencies. 

Vitamin C is amazing for our health and beauty. It is highly effective at reducing free radical damage, such as that caused by overexposure to the sun or pollution. Free radicals consume collagen and elastin, promoting wrinkles and other signs of premature aging. Vitamin Cis also involved in the production of collagen, not just the prevention of its breakdown, and when combined with vitamin E, it was especially effective at protecting the skin from overexposure to the sun.

The health of your hair depends on vitamin C because it supports the blood vessels that feed the hair follicles and is critical for circulation to the scalp. 

Foods rich in vitamin C include berries, capsicums (peppers), citrus fruits, kale, parsley, and broccoli. Indicators of vitamin C deficiency include premature aging, dull skin, dilated capillaries, easy bruising, and brittle hair. 

We need vitamin C everyday to help our bodies produce collagen, the elastic tissue that is found in the skin, ligaments, tendons, cartilage and blood vessels. It is also essential for the growth and repair of your bones, teeth and other tissues. Plus, vitamin C is an extremely effective antioxidant that reduces damage and inflammation in the body, helping to protect you from degenerative diseases.