The hormonal and physical changes that your skin goes through during pregnancy can lead to a radiant glow one day and acne, discoloration, and stretch marks the next. While both the positives and negatives are considered normal side effects of pregnancy, there are certain nutrients that are famous for their role in skin health and may help keep your skin looking and feeling healthy throughout pregnancy and beyond. These nutrients include antioxidants (particularly vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and selenium), zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids. Most of these nutrients are found in foods that are also beneficial for milk production for nursing moms! Try these skin-nutrient packed foods to help you glow as much on the outside as you do on the inside!
Water: One of the best things for healthy skin is to drink plenty of water! Not only does water help flush away toxins, but it also helps nutrients flow into cells, keeping them nourished and healthy. Water plays an important role in keeping all of your organs functioning well, and as one of the largest organs in your body, your skin benefits from that too! Hydrated cells are also fuller which helps give your skin that healthy glow. Keep in mind that water intake is especially important while pregnant and nursing, and intake recommendations typically increase during these times (10 cups per day, and 13 cups per day, respectively).
Mangoes & Red Bell Peppers: Both are high in vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene all of which play important roles as antioxidants in protecting the skin from free radical damage on the inside, and sun damage on the outside. Vitamin C is also involved in the production of collagen, while beta carotene, converted to vitamin A in the body, aids in the growth and repair of body tissues, including the skin. Last but not least, mangoes and bell peppers are made up of at least 75% water and therefore provide extra hydration.
Nuts: Nuts are delicious and nutritious, with different varieties offering a host of valuable nutrients for skin health. Cashews, peanuts (including peanut butter), and pecans are rich in zinc. Zinc helps maintain collagen in the skin, and protects cell membranes. Walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which also keep cell membranes healthy and have been shown to protect the skin from sun damage. Brazil nuts are another good nut choice for sun protection, as they are a good source of selenium. Almonds and hazelnuts are rich in vitamin E, while pine nuts contain both vitamin E and zinc.
Skinless Chicken: This nutritious lean protein is an excellent source of selenium and zinc. In addition to sun protection, selenium also delays the aging process by maintaining the skin’s quality and elasticity (good for a helping your skin stretch as your body changes), which pairs nicely with zinc due to its role in skin renewal.
Seeds: Although small, seeds pack a lot of nutrition in their tiny bodies, including nutrients for healthy skin. Sunflower seeds are a good source of zinc and vitamin E. Pumpkin seeds are rich in zinc, while chia seeds, hemp seeds and flax seeds are packed with sun protecting (and maybe skin cancer preventing!) omega-3’s. Opt for freshly ground flax seeds to ensure optimal absorption.
Looking for more sources of these nutrients for skin health?
Here is a list of some of the best sources for those nutrients listed above.
Sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, turnip greens, spinach, collard greens, mangoes, kale, pink/red grapefruit, asparagus, cherries.
Vitamin C :
Guava, citrus (oranges, grapefruit), broccoli, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, kidney beans, turnip greens, watermelon, sugar snap peas.
Broccoli, wheat germ, Swiss chard, turnip greens, beet greens, avocados, olive oil, mangoes, spinach, almond and sunflower butter.
Tuna, tilapia, whole wheat pasta/bread/crackers, wheat germ, turkey, cottage cheese, egg.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
Wild salmon, herring, rainbow trout, seaweed, walnut oil.
Lobster, lean beef, wheat germ, turkey (dark meat), yogurt, starchy beans (black, navy, pinto, garbanzo, kidney), lentils.
Liquids: Water, fruit infused waters, homemade juices, teas, coffee.
Fruits: Apples, blackberries, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, peaches, pears, watermelon.
Veggies: Artichokes, asparagus, beets, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, kale, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes.
** Always opt for these nutrients in their natural food form, rather than as a supplement, as some of these nutrients can be dangerous in excessive amounts.
Here is to healthy skin from the inside out!