Our skin is our first line of defense against outside elements and pathogens. Regardless of climate changes, the epidermis or outermost layer of our 20 or so square feet of skin continues to renew itself about every 27 days. This rapid renewal makes the appearance of a person’s skin a good barometer of internal health. When a person’s skin has a dry, cracked appearance, the following nutrients need to be considered:

Water – Dehydration is the first culprit when skin becomes rough and dry. It’s well known that our skin is 70 to 80 percent water so drinking a minimum of two quarts per day of good quality water is recommended. Perspiration brought on by physical activity or a sauna also helps to keep the epidermis soft so long as the lost water is replaced. Water can also be obtained from fruits and vegetables and low intake of these foods can result in brittle skin. With age, skin’s ability to hold water decreases, making proper diet and hydration even more important.

Beta carotene and vitamin A – For the skin, the main benefit of these antioxidants is prevention of blemishes and protection from UV damage. Lack of beta carotene or vitamin A can encourage dryness as well as acne and even skin cancer. A severe deficiency in vitamin A can result in a build up of keratin on the surface of the skin (keratosis pilaris) that gives it a spots of dryness and bumps.

Essential Fatty Acids – Regular intake of good fats such omega-3 EPA, gamma linolenic acid and the monounsaturated fatty acids are essential for soft, youthful looking skin. Essential fats help give skin youthful glow while preventing inflammation. Deficiency of omega-6 essential fats is linked to inflammatory skin conditions such as atopic eczema, a symptom of which is rough, itchy, dry skin.

Vitamin E – Natural emollients such as olive and almond oils owe their skin-softening properties to vitamin E. In addition to nourishing from the inside out with a high intake of vitamin E-rich foods (seeds, nuts, oils), pure vitamin E from supplement capsules can be applied directly to chapped lips and dry skin for effective relief. You can try this recipe for a vitamin E-rich lotion overnight as well:

Homemade Moisturizer

2 tablespoons almond, olive or avocado oil
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons glycerin
about 1 1/2 cups finely ground almonds or rolled oats

You will need a ceramic bowl, a spoon, and a pair of washable cotton gloves

In the bowl, thoroughly mix the avocado oil, honey, ad glycerin. Stir in a sufficient amount of almonds or oatmeal to form a thin paste. Rub the paste over your hands; then put on the gloves and wear them overnight.

Emily Kennedy, Registered Nutritionist at MIM, provides diet plans for you and your family, working in collaboration with Dr. Gannage. Appointments can be scheduled by phoning (905)294-2335, or emailing info@integrative-medicine.ca.

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