Dr Kate Norris continueswith Part 2 of essential nutrients required in your diet to achieve a desirable healthy glow. Foods can assist in the prevention and treatment of certain skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, eczema and other inflammitory skin conditions.

Part 2

Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that acts as an essential cofactor for enzymes that regulate fatty acid metabolism. Fatty acids in the skin protect the cells against damage and water loss into the external environment. When biotin intake is insufficient, fat production is altered, and the skin cells are the first to develop symptoms. A deficiency of biotin causes hair loss and a characteristic dermatitis around the mouth and other areas of the face and scalp. In infants, biotin deficiency manifests as “cradle cap”. whereas in adults this condition is called seborrheic dermatitis and can occur in many different areas of the skin. Biotin deficiency can also be a cause of dandruff for some people. While true biotin deficiency is rare, consuming adequate amounts of biotin can help prevent problems with dry skin and seborrheic dermatitis. Biotin deficiency in the diet is usually only seen in individuals who are consuming raw egg whites, due to the protein avidin which binds with biotin and prevents its absorption in the gut. The best sources of biotin are egg yolks and liver, and other good sources include swiss chard, romaine lettuce, almonds, and walnuts. Including these foods in your diet will prevent biotin deficiency and may help improve the production of fatty acids in the skin, returning moisture to dry skin.

Sulphur is an extremely important dietary compound for both skin health and overall wellness. Sulphur is necessary for collagen synthesis, which gives the skin its structure and strength. The breakdown of collagen or insufficient production of collagen as we age is one of the major contributors to the development of wrinkles. Sulphur is also required for the synthesis of glutathione, one of the most important antioxidants in the body. High levels of glutathione in the body can prevent damage caused by free radicals, which are thought to be the major cause of cellular aging. Glutathione also regulates the production of prostaglandins, reducing inflammation, possibly improving inflammatory skin conditions. The level of glutathione in the body is greatly impacted by having adequate sulphur, specifically sulphur-containing amino acids, in the diet. These amino acids are most abundant and bioavailable in animal foods such as egg yolks, meat, poultry, and fish. Sulphur is also found in plant foods including garlic, onions, brussels sprouts, asparagus, and kale. Fermentation may make this sulphur more bioavailable, so foods like sauerkraut and other fermented crucifers are excellent sources.

brussel sprouts

Vitamin E
Vitamin E is the most abundant fat-soluble antioxidant found in the skin. It is secreted on the skin surface through the sebum, which happens a week after consumption of vitamin E-rich foods. Our bodies store vitamin E in our fat cells, and we depend on adequate dietary in take to keep these levels optimum. Vitamin E is a potent anti-inflammatory agent, defending the skin against free radicals and reactive oxygen species that would otherwise cause damage. Vitamin E may also play a synergistic role with selenium in improving glutathione levels in the body, further increasing antioxidant activity. Adequate levels of this vitamin in the skin may prevent inflammatory damage from sun exposure, helping to reduce the aging and skin cancer risk from excessive UV radiation. Whole food sources of vitamin E include spinach, turnip greens, chard, sunflower seeds, almonds, capsicum, asparagus, collards, kale, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. Olive oil contains a moderate amount of vitamin E as well. It is important to eat these foods with plenty of fat to boost the absorption of vitamin E, which is a fat-soluble vitamin.
Selenium is an incredibly important trace mineral with numerous health benefits, yet many people may be at risk for deficiencies of this important element as there are poor levels of selenium in the Australian soil. One of the most important functions of selenium is as a component of glutathione peroxidase, an enzyme necessary for the antioxidant function of glutathione. As I’ve mentioned before, glutathione is one of the major antioxidants in the body that protects against cellular damage from the free radicals that cause inflammation, aging, and promote skin cancer.
Selenium and vitamin E likely play complementary roles in increasing glutathione activity and reducing overall oxidative stress in the body. Therefore, a diet high in selenium is likely to improve acne, specifically in those with low levels of glutathione. It’s best to get your selenium from food, and the richest sources of this trace element are brazil nuts, organ meats and seafood, followed by muscle meats. (Just two to three brazil nuts a day will give you the 200 micrograms necessary for an adequate intake).



Kate Norris will share Part 3 of Essential Nutrients for a healthy skin in her next blog.

Other Blog Reading from Dr Kate Norris:

Dr Kate Norris on Skin Health and Nutrition Over View

Nutrients for Healthy and Glowing Skin Part 1

Dr Kate Norris
Integrative Medical Doctor


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