New findings suggest that eating foods high in vitamin C and linoleic acid can prevent wrinkles and dry skin, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. While past studies have associated supplements and vitamins with skin health, this is the first time dietary intake of nutrients has been evaluated for their effects on skin aging.
The research team used data from the first National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES I) to analyze the association between nutrient intake and skin aging in 4,025 women aged 40-74. The original data was collected between 1971 and 1974 in the United States, and, in addition to dietary intake, includes measures such as exposure to sunlight, amount of exercise, supplement intake, and height and weight. After filtering the data, the researchers were able to independently associate vitamin C and linoleic acid with skin health.
Vitamin C, an important antioxidant, is instrumental in the production of collagen, the protein that plays a role in the skin's elasticity. Fruits and vegetables are the best dietary source of vitamin C, and at the time of the original research, the main dietary sources of vitamin C were orange juice, citrus fruits, and tomatoes, according to the study.
The study found that linoleic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that is digested and converted into the fatty acids DHA and EPA, prevents senile dryness and skin atrophy. Nuts and some oils, such as sunflower oil, are high in linoleic acid.
The researchers concede that the historical nature of the data may present some limitations as changes in dietary nutrient intake have occurred over the past 30 years. They were also unable to factor in the effect of facial cosmetics in combination with diet on the skin.