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Vitamins and your skin

Vitamins are found in abundance in fresh, natural foods and they are best for us when consumed in that form. Unfortunately, most of us don't consume enough of these foods. In addition, due to food processing and preparation, many of the fruits and vegetables we eat have lost much of their nutritional value. As a result, we don't always ingest an adequate supply of all the nutrients and vitamins necessary to maintain good health.

Listed below are some of the major vitamins essential to healthy skin and the foods they can be found in.

Vitamin A (Retinol) - found in carrots, fish liver oil, milk and dairy products, eggs, winter squash, broccoli, apricots, mangoes, papayas, watercress, alfalfa sprouts, kale and other dark leafy vegetables, as well as seaweed. It has been indicated that sufficient daily allowances of Vitamin A and zinc can clear blemishes and some forms of acne. Bear in mind that Vitamin A can be toxic in amounts exceeding 100,000 units/day.

Vitamin B Complex - found in whole grains and their products, beans, sunflower seeds, nuts, fish and green leafy vegetables. Deficiency in this complex, especially Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), has been linked to seborrheic dermatitis. Deficiency in Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), has been linked to eczema and various other skin irritations.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) - found in cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, watercress, parsley, strawberries, cantaloupe, cherries and citrus fruits. This vitamin is vital to the formation of collagen and elastin; its deficiency has been linked to dry skin, skin discoloration and premature aging due to collagen deterioration.

Vitamin E (Tocopherol) - found in green leafy vegetables, cabbage, olive oil, whole grains and their products, sunflower seeds, soybeans and other beans. Vitamin E is the most potent antioxidant known, as it protects cells from uncontrolled oxidation and free radical damage. Topical application of this vitamin helps to lessen scarring.

If you are not consuming adequate amounts of these foods, vitamin supplements are a good alternative. It should be remembered that diet plays an important role in the maintenance of healthy, youthful skin.