The skin can take a beating during the winter, and many people experience excessive dryness as a result. Crisp wind, dry and cold air, and heat from furnaces create an unfriendly environment for the skin. You may notice flakier, drier skin that’s prone to itchiness as the temperatures drop. And it seems that all the lotion in the world can’t get rid of the dryness!
Just like any other system or organ in the body, the skin requires nutrients that help it grow and repair on a cellular level. When you eat the right foods or focus on the right nutrients, you can help rebuild the skin’s natural moisturizing factor (NMF). This is a protective barrier that seals in moisture and protects the skin from environmental damage. It’s also beneficial to focus on water-rich foods that help hydrate the skin from within.
We aren’t saying that your skin care routine is ineffective or outdated; rather, it may simply need a little enhancement. For example, using a moisturizer may prevent transepidermal water loss, but this won’t matter if the skin’s moisture barrier is weak. Attack the problem from all angles and your skin will be hydrated, moisturized, and supple before you know it. Continue reading to learn about the nutrients that will help hydrate the skin during the winter.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Many dermatologists recommend people to eat avocado, chia seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish if they want glowing skin. The reason for this is because these foods contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help to improve the skin’s hydration. Omega-3s are an integral component of the skin’s lipid content, and they work to improve the barrier function. If the barrier is working properly, the skin retains more moisture and helps to keep irritants out. Additionally, omega-3s may support the skin by way of hydration and antioxidant photoprotection.
During the fall and winter months, it’s very easy to get your daily dose of vitamin A. Many seasonal produce items are naturally rich in this nutrient. Winter squash, sweet potatoes, carrots, or even collard greens and kale are excellent sources of vitamin A. Not only does vitamin A help to maintain skin elasticity, but it also works to fight inflammation, which can contribute to dry skin during the winter.
You can include vitamins A, C, E, and other phytonutrients in this category. Antioxidants work to combat free radicals, which can impair the skin’s barrier function and increase the risk of transepidermal water loss. Eating a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables can provide you with enough antioxidants to keep the skin hydrated. Astaxanthin, a unique phytonutrient, helps to improve skin elasticity and moisture levels. It may also protect the skin’s collagen layer. Other antioxidants may work to protect the skin from UVB rays and make positive changes to skin microbiome.
In addition to drinking water every day, it can help to consume foods with high water content. Roughly 20% of the body’s water intake comes from diet, specifically fruits and vegetables. These foods also offer beneficial antioxidants and nutrients that help protect the skin barrier. Water helps to transport nutrients to your cells, while simultaneously getting rid of toxins. Keeping cells plump and healthy also discourages dry or dehydrated skin. Watermelon, cantaloupe, celery, lettuce, cucumber, radishes, and tomatoes are excellent water-rich produce items.
According to dermatologists, it’s easy for the skin to dry out if you are deficient in vitamin D, which is a fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin D actually triggers receptors that help promote the formation of the skin barrier. Food items provide a low amount of vitamin D, so a supplement may be necessary. Consult with your doctor to determine the correct dosage for your body. As a general note, it’s often better to take a smaller dose every day, as opposed to a larger dose once a week.