In order to grow and function properly, cells require a host of nutrients. We need to ensure that we get an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals each day in order to maintain the integrity of our cells to support stong teeth, hair, nails, and skin. We can feed our cells to function at their maximum capacity both healthwise and beautywise, so let's dig into what nutrients support beauty and what foods support health on a cellular level.
Vitamins are potent nutrients that can prevent and even reverse the aging of the skin, boost hydration, increase collagen production, brighten the eyes, and strengthen the hair, teeth, and nails. They can be obtained through organic whole foods and supplements and are critical to both beauty and health.
There are two classes of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble. The water-soluble vitamins are the B-complex vitamins and vitamin C. Fat-soluble vitamins include A D, E, and K and require the presence of lipds to be absorbed. Let's take a look at some of these powerhouse beauty building blocks.
Vitamin A (beta-carotene) is a beauty enhancer both systemically and topically. When used directly on the skin, it has antibacterial properties, which aid in the healing of acne and rosacea. It also improves the appearance of the skin, promoting healing from photodamage and reversing hyperpigmentation.
When ingested, vitamin A nourishes the skin and the hair. It also reverses UV damage and may even prevent it when taken before exposure to damaging light. In the human body and in an animal's body, beta-carotene and certain other carotenoids transform into vitamin A (retinoids) including retinol, retinal, and retinoic acids. These play a key role in immune function. Retinoic acid deeply hydrates the hair and scalp.
Raw organic carrots, green leafy vegetables (kale, chard, etc), pumpkins, squash, and sweet potatoes provide a healthy dose of the beauty-enhancing benefits of the precursor to vitamin A (retinoids): beta-carotene. Animal products such as eggs and ghee already contain vitamin A forms (reinoids) that do not need to be transformed by your digestion and are immediately available as nutrition to your cells.
Vitamin B9 (folate or folic acid) is essential for the formation and repair of DNA, especially promoting healthy replication and repair of skin cells that have been harmed by UV rays. When combined with vitamin B12 and UVB sun exposure, folic acid stimulates the precursors to melanocytes, which can then travel to the epidermis and reverse vitiligo (loss of pigment in the skin).
Topically, vitamin B9 is best used in conjunction with creatine to increase collagen gene expression, collagen production, and collagen fibril organization, all of which promote the reduction of wrinkles and fine lines.
The best foods to eat for vitamin B9 are raw organic beets, broccoli, celery, lentils, strawberries, sweet bell peppers, and tomatoes.
Vitamin B12, a water-soluble vitamin, is a DNA protector when combined with vitaminB9 (folate or folic acid). Together, these two prevent chromosome breakage and DNA hypomethylation, a key abnormality in human cancer tumors. On its own, vitamin B12 promotes blood circulation, delivering oxygen and nutrients to the surface of the skin, resulting in the reversal of epidermis damage and the emergence of smooth, fresh skin. It contributes to bone, brain, and nervous system health, and also keeps our energy levels up.
Plants don't have the ability to process and store B12 within themselves like animals do, so it's important to consider taking a B12 supplement when eating a primarily plant-based diet. Vitamin B12 is found in eggs, cheese, poultry, fish, and meat. Vegans must rely upon supplementation to maintain healthy levels.
Vitamin C packs a beauty punch, promoting healthy, glowing skin by boosting collagen production and optimizing the immune system. Studies have shown that Vitamin C congregates at both the epidermal and the dermal layers of the skin and has been shown to repair UV-related DNA damage, prevent oxidative damage to lipids, inhibit the release of inflammatory cytokines, and protect against cell death. In these ways, as levels of vitamin C drop in the skin, signs of wear and tear begin to emerge.
Vitamin C is found in an abundance of beauty foods, including raw organic amla berries, citrus fruits, guava, kiwi, papaya, pineapple, red pepper, seabuckthorn berries, strawberries and more. Because this water-soluble vitamin is not made by our body nor stored easily and is quickly excreted, it is important to consume these foods regularly.
Vitamin D is essential for absorbing many other beauty nutrients. Vitamin D, specifically vitamin D3, is perhaps the most important vitamin for human health, as it flips on over three thousand genes associated with health. Because it regulates calcium and phosphorus absorption it plays a pivotal role in bone health, and deficiencies can lead to osteoporosis. This fat-souble vitamin functions like a hormone and interacts with our DNA. It also repairs and strengthens skin, rendering it resistant to sun damage.
Because vitamin D reduces inflammation and supports the immune system it is considered and "anti-acne" vitamin. Vitamin D is so important that it is used to fortify everything from milk to orange juice. Despite this fortification, almost a third of the American population is deficient in vitamin D. Staying indoors and leading a sedentary lifestyle will reduce your sun exposure and vitamin D3 production, leading to reduced energy, a weaker immune system, and sallow looking skin.
Vitamin D3 is produced through sun exposure and supports a healthy immune system, weight loss, and even mood. Top tips for getting enough vitamin D3 include getting twenty minutes of direct sun exposure a day (don't shower for at least thirty minutes after exposure to allow absorption into the skin). Foods like salmon and sardines can be used as food sources of vitamin D, and although vegetarian sources are hard to come by (small amounts of vitamin D2 are present in lichens, shiitake, maitake, and portobello mushrooms, as well as polypores like reishi and chaga that are dried in the sun), there are vegan vitamin D2, and lichen-derived vitamin D2 supplements available - and vitamin D2 may be as powerful as vitamin D3.
Vitamin E, when taken internally, has potent anti-inflammatory properties and acts like an antioxidant to prevent free-radical damage within our cells. This boosts moisture and elasticity, resulting in youthful-looking skin due to faster cellular regeneration. While working hard against wrinkles, scars and acne, it also helps block environmental damage to the hair. There are eight different types of vitamin E (all with their unique benefits): four types of tocopherols and four types of tocotrienols (derived from rice bran solubles)--and all are beneficial and recommended for beauty. Topically, the alpha-tocopherols are isolated from vitamin E and infused into beauty creams and oils for their humectant properties. They exel at hydrating and smoothing dry nail beds and cuticles, lubricating the skin, and adding shine to the hair. Vitamin E is abundant in healthy fats and can be found in almonds, avocados (of course), hemp seeds, organic cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil, and sunflower seeds, as well as in asparagus, beet greens, kale, mustard greens, spinach, and swiss chard.
Vitamin K is another fat-soluble vitamin that is a beauty enhancer. It is essential for the promotion of platelet aggregation (blood clotting), and it improves blood circulation, helping the body heal from wounds and bruises, including dark circles under the eyes. Vitamin K has also been shown to prevent calcification of the elastin fibers in the skin. This in turn prevents the formation of wrinkles. It can also prevent further acne outbreaks. Eat raw organic brussels sprouts, cabbage, celery, kale, scallions, and spinach to get plenty of vitamin K.
Vitamin K2 assists with calcium regulation and can affect our dental health. Vitamin K2 protects the heart and cardiovascular system from soft tissue calcification. Because K2 is found primarily in dairy cheese, fermented soybean products (e.g., natto), fermented nut and seed products, as well as supplements, all of us need to pay particular attention to K2 levels, especially in developing children. Vitamin K2 and vitamin D work together to produce strong bone health.
This smoothie is a very satisfying breakfast or meal replacement because it provides so much dense nutritional sustenance in a delicious fruity beverage.
12 oz coconut milk
1 whole orange, peeled and seeded
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
Small handful of baby spinach or kale
2 tablespoons tocotrinols
1 tablespoon chia seeds
Contents of 1 to 2 capsules vitamin C
Contents of 1 to 2 capsules vitamin D3
1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder
1 to 2 dates, pitted; raw organic honey; or stevia to taste
Blend all the ingredients together in a high-speed blender and enjoy!