Your skin is in a constant process of total regeneration each month. To support healthy connective tissue (what makes our skin firm and healthy), key in on these basic nutrients daily:
Water helps keep your skin hydrated, which helps “fluff” collagen and minimize the appearance and development of wrinkles and dry skin. It also improves your body’s ability to detoxify more efficiently, which takes a load off your skin and improves its vibrancy.
Omega-3s, good fats, vitamin D, vitamin A, and carotenoids all help your skin maintain its moisture, lubrication, and vitality. Eat plenty of orange and dark green produce, calendula petals, liver, and pasture-raised eggs for their antioxidant pigments. Make sure your diet is rich in good fats, including plenty of seafood and fatty cold-water fish, nuts and seeds, and modest amounts of wild or pasture-raised animal products.
A fish oil or cod liver oil supplement helps fill gaps but isn’t as good as food. (Cod liver oil offers more vitamin A and D.) Vitamin D encourages new skin cell growth and proliferation, especially keratin compounds, and can help correct skin diseases like vitiligo, scleroderma, psoriasis, actinic keratosis, and lupus vulgaris. Besides cod liver oil and sun exposure, other sources of vitamin D include mushrooms (grown with exposure to the sun or UV rays), pastured eggs, fatty fish, liver, fortified foods, and dietary supplements.
Silica strengthens collagen, keratin, elastin, and other forms of connective tissue. Super infusions, decoctions, simmered broths, and capsules of the herb horsetail are particularly rich in silica. Other good dietary sources include whole grains and seeds, including rice, corn, oats, and flax. Nettle and oat straw provide some silica, too. Well-made gelatinous bone broth can also provide a range of supportive nutrients for collagen and skin health.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C enhances the quality and healing of connective tissue while improving your absorption of other nutrients. Bioflavonoids, present in all natural sources of vitamin C, improve the action of vitamin C. Herbal sources of both include rose hips, certain types of evergreen needles/branches (white pine, balsam fir, hemlock tree, spruce), amla fruit, citrus, strawberries, tomatoes, bell peppers, and most fresh fruit and vegetables. Fresh, raw, or recently dried forms will be richest in vitamin C; it dissipates quickly during drying, aging, and cooking.
5. Amino acids
Amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are essential for almost all components of your skin and connective tissue. Be sure to eat complete sources of protein (from animal or combined plant sources), especially those high in the amino acids methionine and cysteine. You’ll find these aminos in nuts, seeds, and dark leafy greens—sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, wild edible greens (lamb’s-quarter, pigweed, purslane), spinach, oats, barley, and other whole grains, beans, and lentils.
6. Vulnerary herbs
When you skin needs extra support (after surgery, during wound healing, and while correcting skin issues) try vulnerary herbs that support wound and connective tissue repair and vitality. These include gotu kola, calendula flowers, lavender buds, St. John’s wort buds and flowers, and plantain leaf applied topically. Gotu kola also promotes collagen synthesis and capillary strength when taken internally.