Superfoods and Supplements for Beauty and Health
Getting the nutrients you need is the best beauty regimen any woman can follow. Hollywood’s most stunning Black women provide inspiration.
We’ve got masks, moisturizers and hair care products galore to keep our skin glowing and our tresses healthy. But repair and renewal is an inside job. “Beautiful skin needs hydration and nourishment, internally and externally,” advises celebrity esthetician Mamie McDonald, who counts supermodel Iman among her radiant clients. Along with a morning and evening skin care routine that she details on SkinByMamie.com, she lists drinking plenty of water, eating a healthy diet and using supplements, as necessary.
In a perfect world, we’d get all the nutrients we need from the foods we eat. But in a perfect world we’d also have arms like Angela Bassett without working out. Since the world isn’t perfect, many women interested in looking and feeling their best turn to nutritional supplements.
Be sure to talk to your doctor before taking any supplement because it could interact with medication. Here are five supplements to discuss with your physician during your next visit.
Beauty benefits: You’ve probably heard talk suggesting that collagen supplements are like a fountain of youth for your skin. A 2019 study of women 35 and over found that a collagen supplement, that also included acerola fruit extract, vitamin C, zinc, biotin and vitamin E, significantly improved skin hydration and elasticity. The supplement made skin softer and reduced wrinkles, too.
Body benefits: Collagen supports more than a pretty face. It’s a protein that’s responsible for healthy joints and may reduce osteoarthritis pain, WebMD reports. So, collagen could help you feel as young as you look.
Food sources: Your body can naturally produce collagen by combining amino acids. To produce collagen your body needs amino acids like glycine and proline, as well as vitamin C, zinc and copper. So, you can help your body produce more collagen by eating foods rich in these elements. Egg whites, citrus fruits and lentils can help. Actress Halle Berry has shared that she drinks bone broth to give her body a collagen boost.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Beauty benefits: If you want healthier looking skin, be sure to include omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. These good fats help cell membranes keep moisture in and get toxins out. And, they may help fight inflammation, which plays a role in certain forms of acne, hyperpigmentation and hair loss.
Body benefits: Research has found that omega-3 fatty acids can lower your risk for heart attacks and death from coronary artery disease and can help keep your mind as sharp as your wardrobe by counteracting cognitive decline.
It’s unclear if supplements pack the same power as omega-3s obtained through your diet, but according to one study, omega-3 supplements may be especially beneficial for African Americans. So, if you don’t think you’re getting enough omega-3s from your diet, talk to your doctor about omega-3 supplements like fish oil, which is one of Kerry Washington’s go-to supplements.
Food sources: The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fish per week. Fatty fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Perhaps that’s why Angela Bassett makes it a regular part of her diet. Other good sources of omega-3 fatty acids include nuts, leafy vegetables and flax seeds.
Beauty benefits: Vitamin D is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin because your skin produces it when exposed to sunlight, but it can help you keep your bright smile, too. Vitamin D plays a significant role in keeping your teeth healthy. According to a 2020 study, vitamin D deficiencies can lead to cavities, gum disease and other oral health disorders. More research is needed to determine if supplements provide the same benefits, and doctors caution against taking too much vitamin D in supplement form.
Body benefits: Vitamin D could help your waistline, too. A 2011 study found that overweight and obese adults taking calcium and vitamin D supplements lost significantly more stomach fat than people not taking any supplements. Vitamin D also helps build and maintain healthy bones because it’s essential for the absorption of calcium. Vitamin D is important for a healthy heart and blood vessels, for normal blood pressure and for proper brain function, too.
Actress Gabrielle Union says getting vitamin D is one of the keys to her well-being. “I need sun,” she once told Women’s Health magazine. “I need vitamin D on my face. Give me a trail, a park, a walk down the street with the dogs, a breeze, rain. I’ll go hike. I’ll get a lawn chair and sit outside my trailer so I’m not trapped inside.”
Chatting with your doctor about your vitamin D levels should definitely be on your to-do list as vitamin D deficiency is more common among in African Americans, in part because melanin lowers the skin’s ability to make it.
Food sources: Fortified milk, fortified cereals, cheese and egg yolks are all good sources of vitamin D.
Beauty benefits: Vitamin C does the body good inside out. Vital for skin health, vitamin C can reduce the signs of aging and help your body produce collagen.
Body benefits: To top things off, vitamin C is also an antioxidant and can help bolster your immune system.
Kerry Washington keeps vitamin C supplements on hand when she travels.
Food sources: Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, potatoes, bell peppers and spinach.
Beauty benefits: For years biotin, or B7, supplements have been all the rage as a treatment for hair loss and said to promote healthy hair, skin and nails. While there’s a lack of published studies to support these claims, a deficiency of biotin can certainly lead to hair loss and skin or nail problems. So, be sure you’re getting enough biotin to keep the glow up going.
Body benefits: Biotin also plays a vital role in helping enzymes break down fats, carbohydrates and proteins in food.
Food sources: Good food sources of biotin include eggs, sweet potatoes, salmon and avocados. Actress Regina King starts her day by eating half an avocado for breakfast, along with a bowl of mixed green vegetables.