This week we will be discussing nutrition for skin health during menopause. A recent British Skin Foundation survey has revealed that 85% of women experience some skin changes during menopause, and 24% of survey respondents felt embarrassed to discuss it. The most common menopause-associated skin symptoms reported in the survey were excessive dryness, followed by the looseness of the skin, excessive signs of ageing, changes in colour, rosacea or broken blood vessels, and late-onset acne. Only 15% of respondents reported no changes in their skin at all . So, you are certainly not alone if you are experiencing skin changes during menopause.
Skin health can be a concern throughout life, depending on factors such as hydration, nutrition, alcohol intake, sun exposure, and genetics .
The effects of menopause on skin health are not discussed as often as other menopausal symptoms, however the decrease in oestrogen during menopause can cause numerous skin concerns. These concerns include dryness, itchiness, thinning, wrinkles, sagging, and poor wound healing .
Although genes do have a lot to do with the health of your skin, a balanced nutritional diet is important for optimal skin health and function.
Nutrition for Skin Health
A diet rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals is beneficial for skin health. Vitamins A, B2, B3, B6, C, D, E, zinc, and selenium are the main vitamins and minerals identified as promoting good skin .
Vitamin A is a vitamin that is found in foods like cheese, eggs, oily fish, milk, and fortified spreads. The recommended daily intake for vitamin A is 600µg per day for women. It helps to support immune response and decrease susceptibility to skin infections and inflammatory skin disease .
B vitamins can be found in foods such as meat, fish, peanuts, oats, milk, fortified breakfast cereals, mushrooms, and eggs. Combinations of B vitamins have been found to improve the production of skin cells, as well as improving wound closure by 25 to 30% .
Vitamin C is found in foods like citrus fruits, strawberries, broccoli, peppers, and potatoes. The recommended daily intake for vitamin A is 40mg per day for women. Skin contains high concentrations of vitamin C, which helps in collagen production, the protein responsible for maintaining skin structure, and UV protection. Ensuring that vitamin C requirements are met allow for the maintenance of these processes .
Vitamin D is found in foods like oily fish, red meat, eggs, and fortified foods. However, it is recommended that you take a vitamin D supplement if you are at risk of deficiency. People at risk of vitamin D deficiency include people who are not outdoors often, those with dark skin, and elderly people. Everyone should take a vitamin D supplement during the winter months due to the lack of sunlight.
Like B vitamins, vitamin D helps to increase skin cell production, preventing thinning of the skin. Additionally, some studies have found that vitamin D deficiency is related to some skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis .
To learn more about Vitamin D, here is the link to the blog post.
Vitamin E can be found in plant oils, nuts, seeds, and wheatgerm. The recommended daily intake is 3mg a day for women. Adequate vitamin E intake is related to lower risk of psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, and acne .
Furthermore, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, meaning that it protects the skin from oxidative damage .
Zinc and Selenium
Selenium is found in foods such as brazil nuts, fish, meat, and eggs. It helps prevent damage to cells and tissues, protecting the skin.
Zinc can be found in meat, shellfish, dairy foods, bread, and cereal products. It helps with making new skin cells and in the wound healing process .
Finally, hydration is a key aspect in maintaining skin health. The amount of fluid each individual needs varies; however, the UK recommendation is between 6 and 8 glasses per day, or more if you are active or if it is hot.
Water, low-fat milk, and sugar free drinks all contribute to your fluid intake, as well as smoothies and fruit juice. Although, they are a source of free sugars so you should aim to stick to less than 150ml of these per day.
Some foods also contain water, as well as a source of antioxidants. Some examples of this are cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, watermelon, apples, citrus fruits, and berries.
Studies have shown that an adequate fluid intake helps to prevent dry skin and increase elasticity. However, there is limited clinical research on this .
To summarise, it is important to maintain a healthy, balanced diet, rich in vitamins and minerals, to support skin health. Additionally, an adequate fluid intake can help to keep the skin hydrated and improve elasticity.
Caroline Hill is a specialist menopause dietitian supporting women making dietary change. Caroline uses her extensive knowledge, skills and expertise of food and nutrition to help women manage their symptoms and weight during menopause. Caroline believes in providing sustainable, individualised, evidence-based advice to women making dietary change.