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Here are some essential nutrients for youthful and healthy-looking skin; these nutrients form the key building blocks to all superfoods.
They are called antioxidants because they prevent oxidation. This is a chemical reaction that occurs by free radicals joining together and damaging our body cells and tissues. We are constantly being bombarded with free radicals from polluted air, water and food, and our bodies produce them when we get stressed.
Beta-carotene is a natural pigment (carotenoid), and it neutralizes free radicals, therefore protects the skin's cell structure, and can slow down the effects of ageing. It is great at boosting the immune system and protecting against damaging and ageing illnesses.
lycopene is another carotenoid that occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables. It is a red pigment useful for protecting the skin against degenerating, keeping the mind alert and the body functioning.
Vitamin C is needed for collagen and bone formation, and development of connective tissue. It also helps speed up production of new cells, keeps blood vessels healthy and boosts the immune system. This vitamin is water-soluble so it can't be stored for long in the body and therefore needs replenishing daily. It is also easily destroyed by cooking and food processing.
This is one of the most effective antioxidants; it attacks free radicals to prevent tissue and bone damage, and thereby protects skin. It also helps the body to use oxygen properly, and maintains healthy muscles and nerves. Some Vitamin E is stored in the liver, and in fat and muscle tissues, but it does need to be replenished regularly.
This is a natural chemical, or flavanoid, found in fruits. It protects the body against inflammation and boosts the immune system. It has shown to decrease the ageing of the DNA in the mitochondria, the energy plant of the cells.
Protein is the second major component of our body, after water. We need protein for our skin to create collagen (the main structural protein of the skin), muscles, hormones, antibodies, enzymes and nerves.
Proteins are built from a combination of 22 amino acids, and eight essential amino acids must be present in the body for protein manufacture to take place. Therefore the quality of the protein is essential, not the quantity.
Essential fatty acids
Omega-9 is technically not an essential fatty acid, as our bodies can manufacture a certain amount, as long as enough omega-3 and omega-6 are present. It contains oleic acid, and an excellent food source is extra virgin olive oil, which contains 75 percent oleic acid.
Minerals are essential for pretty much every body process, and they help to regulate and balance our body chemistry.
Silica is present in our skin, hair and nails. It is essential for the formation of white blood cells. Clinical trials have shown that silica can help thicken the dermis (an inner layer of skin), increase skin elasticity and repair brittle and cracked nails. It also helps the skin to store moisture, plumping and smoothing it.
This is another trace element, and is essential for insulin production, the production of new collagen, and for protecting and repairing DNA. A zinc deficiency could result in brittle, cracked nails, damages hair, slow healing of wounds and acne.
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