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Biohacking Your Diet For Better Skin

Our skin is our largest external organ and it endures quite a lot. Whether it be UV damage, viruses/microorganisms, or physical abrasions, our skin isthe first line of defense of our immune system[1]. A less obvious way to support our skin against these insults lies in our diet.Modern nutritional studies have shown that micronutrients may play a role in repairing the skin and preventing inflammation, photoaging, and other skin disorders[1].So, how do we biohack our diet to support and protect our skin?

What are Micronutrients?

Micronutrients are trace vitamins and minerals essential for metabolism and maintenance of human tissues[2]. Micronutrients (e.g. iron, B-complex vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids) are found in the foods that we eat. For example, Vitamin E (tocopherols) and Vitamin A (carotenoids)can act as antioxidants that quench oxidative damage. When left unchecked, oxidative metabolism can lead to reactive oxygen species (ROS) that can result in harmful free radicals and DNA damage[2]. 

What Micronutrients are Best for Biohacking Your Skin?

Studies have shown that there are some key micronutrients for skin health[3]. 

  1. Vitamin A: Regulates skin cell turnover and protects from UV damage[4,5]. 
  2. Vitamin C: Prevents free radical damage and promotes wound healing[6,7].
  3. Vitamin D: Improves innate immunity by antimicrobial peptide production[8]. 
  4. Vitamin E: Protects against skin cancers from UV damage[9]. 
  5. Zinc: Antimicrobial and protects from light damage[10]. 
  6. Copper: stimulates collagen production and regulates melanin synthesis[11,12]. 
  7. Selenium: Protects skin from UV induced oxidative stress[13]. 

How can mindful eating optimize skin health?

Many nutritional experts are in consensus that eating a well-balanced diet is the best way to optimize health benefits. An optimal diet is one rich in fruits and vegetables with sufficient fiber intake. A good tip is to try to eat the rainbow: Red bell peppers, oranges, bananas, spinach, blueberries and eggplant, for example. By practicing mindful eating, you get a sufficient amount of the vitamins and minerals needed for optimal skin health. 



1. Bolesma E. (2001).Nutritional skin care: health effects of micronutrients and fatty acids.The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 73, Issue 5, May 2001, Pages 853–864. 

2. Shenkin A. (2006). Micronutrients in health and disease.Postgraduate medical journal,82(971), 559–567.

3. Park K. (2015). Role of micronutrients in skin health and function.Biomolecules & therapeutics,23(3), 207–217.

4. Varani, J., Perone, P., Griffiths, C. E., Inman, D. R., Fligiel, S. E., & Voorhees, J. J. (1994). All-trans retinoic acid (RA) stimulates events in organ-cultured human skin that underlie repair. Adult skin from sun-protected and sun-exposed sites responds in an identical manner to RA while neonatal foreskin responds differently.The Journal of clinical investigation,94(5), 1747–1756.

5. Fisher, G. J., Wang, Z. Q., Datta, S. C., Varani, J., Kang, S., & Voorhees, J. J. (1997). Pathophysiology of premature skin aging induced by ultraviolet light.The New England journal of medicine,337(20), 1419–1428.

6. McArdle, F., Rhodes, L. E., Parslew, R., Jack, C. I., Friedmann, P. S., & Jackson, M. J. (2002). UVR-induced oxidative stress in human skin in vivo: effects of oral vitamin C supplementation.Free radical biology & medicine,33(10), 1355–1362.

7. Fisher, G. J., Datta, S. C., Talwar, H. S., Wang, Z. Q., Varani, J., Kang, S., & Voorhees, J. J. (1996). Molecular basis of sun-induced premature skin ageing and retinoid antagonism.Nature,379(6563), 335–339.

8. Gombart, A. F., Borregaard, N., & Koeffler, H. P. (2005). Human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide (CAMP) gene is a direct target of the vitamin D receptor and is strongly up-regulated in myeloid cells by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3.FASEB journal : official publication of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology,19(9), 1067–1077.

9. Burke KE, Clive J, Combs GF Jr, Commisso J, Keen CL, Nakamura RM. Effects of topical and oral vitamin E on pigmentation and skin cancer induced by ultraviolet irradiation in Skh:2 hairless mice. Nutr Cancer. 2000;38(1):87-97. doi: 10.1207/S15327914NC381_13. PMID: 11341050.

10. Mitchnick MA, Fairhurst D, Pinnell SR. Microfine zinc oxide (Z-cote) as a photostable UVA/UVB sunblock agent. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1999 Jan;40(1):85-90. doi: 10.1016/s0190-9622(99)70532-3. PMID: 9922017.

11. Pickart L. (2008). The human tri-peptide GHK and tissue remodeling.Journal of biomaterials science. Polymer edition,19(8), 969–988.

12. Menkes J. H. (1988). Kinky hair disease: twenty five years later.Brain & development,10(2), 77–79.

13. Balagopalakrishna, C., Bhunia, A. K., Rifkind, J. M., & Chatterjee, S. (1997). Minimally modified low density lipoproteins induce aortic smooth muscle cell proliferation via the activation of mitogen activated protein kinase.Molecular and cellular biochemistry,170(1-2), 85–89.