Those with higher levels of vitamin C, vitamin K and linoleic acid had healthier, younger looking skin than did those with lower levels, two new studies reveal.
In a study of aging skin, researchers reviewed the diets of 4,025 women, aged 40 to 74, who had taken part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Dermatologists examined the women to determine how wrinkled, dry or thin their skin appeared as a result of aging. Comparing the nutrients in the diet to the condition of the skin, scientists found that women who had consumed higher levels of vitamin C were less likely to have wrinkled or dry skin compared to those who had consumed lower levels of vitamin C. Women who had consumed higher levels of linoleic acid (an essential fatty acid) were less likely to have dry or thin skin than were women who had consumed lower levels of linoleic acid.
Doctors noted that these results did not depend on age, race, education, sunlight exposure, income, menopause status, weight (body mass), exercise or calories in the diet. However, women who had consumed higher levels of fats and carbohydrates were more likely to have wrinkled or thin skin compared to those who consumed lower levels of fats and carbohydrates.
In a study of elastin—the protein that gives skin its ability to stretch and return to normal—researchers compared healthy people to those who had calcium deposits in the elastin, a condition known as pseudoxanthoma elasticum or PXE, where the skin does not stretch. Scientists measured levels of a naturally occurring protein, called Matrix Gla or MGP, which curbs calcium deposits, but requires vitamin K to become active. Although both healthy and PXE participants had similar total MGP levels—both active and inactive forms—skin cells from healthy participants produced 42.5% more active MGP than did skin cells from PXE participants. Doctors believe that those with PXE do not absorb vitamin K properly, and cautioned that the Western diet does not provide enough vitamin K even for healthy people.