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Keeping the Skin Healthy

      Everyone wants healthy skin, but few people know how to best achieve it. Healthy skin requires a healthy diet, proper cleansing and moisturizing, and good hydration. Here are some tips on maintaining healthy skin:
 
Diet:
 
      The old phrase, "You are what you eat" is not technically accurate. It would be better to say, "You should eat what you are." I'm not advocating cannibalism, but pointing out that you've got to give the body the right building blocks to keep it healthy. This means a well-balanced diet that is high in protein, contains adequate carbohydrates to keep you energized, and controls the amount and types of fat you take in.
 
Supplements and Vitamins:
 
      While there are dozens of vitamins that are necessary to maintaining general health, and you should get the recommended daily allowance of vitamins if you eat a proper diet, certain vitamins have specific benefits for the skin. These are:
 
      Vitamin A: It supports the overall health of the skin by aiding in the function and repair of skin cells. It is an antioxidant that also helps to fight certain cancers, including skin cancer. It has also been shown to improve the skin's elasticity and thickness. Vitamin A is available in a topical acid form known as retinoic acid (Retin-A) that is useful in treating many forms of acne.
 
      Vitamin C: This vitamin is also known as ascorbic acid and is important for the proper repair of the skin and certain tissues. Vitamin C helps in (and even speeds up) the healing processes of the body and is vitally important in fighting aging because it promotes the production of collagen, keeping the skin healthy and firm.
 
      Vitamin D: Vitamin D promotes healthy, rapid healing of the skin. The best source of Vitamin D is sunlight (in controlled exposure). Because it helps to support the bone structure of the body, many foods are fortified with vitamin D (such as milk). It is also available in supplements.
 
      Vitamin E: This vitamin is known as tocopherol and when used in conjunction with vitamin A helps to fight and protect the skin against the harmful effects of the sun. It also helps to heal damaged skin tissues when taken internally or externally. Vitamin E helps to heal structural damage to the skin such as severe burns and stretch marks.
 
Water:
 
      Water is the single-most important nutrient for health. No living creature can survive without an adequate intake of water. 50 to 70 percent of an individual's body weight is water, and water is essential because it sustains the health of the cells, aids in eliminating toxins and waste, helps to regulate body temperature, and assists in digestive processes. All of these processes are important to healthy, vital skin.
 
      How much water do you need? The old standard rules stated that each individual should drink 8 - 12 glasses (8-oz) of water each day, depending on who was asked. However, new studies have devised a more tailored formula for determining how much water an individual needs each day. The water requirement is based on an individual's body weight and level of physical activity. To figure out how much water you should drink in a day, use this formula:
 
      Take your weight (in pounds) and divide by 2, then divide the result by 8. The result is the approximate number of 8-ounce glasses of water you should drink in any given day. If you perform intense physical activity in the course of your day, add 2 glasses to the final number to replace the amount of fluid you lose from perspiration.
 
      (Example: April weighs 94 pounds, her boyfriend Mark weighs 195 pounds. According to the formula, April should drink 6 glasses of water per day [94 /2 = 47, /8 = 5.875 rounded up to 6]. On the other hand, Mark needs 14 glasses of water each day because he spends an hour each day working out and runs 3 miles a day [195 /2 = 97.5, /8 = 12.1875 rounded down to 12, plus 2 for physical activity].)
 
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