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Originally published Sunday, March 24, 2013 at 5:35 AM

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Great-looking skin starts from the inside

In preparation for the return of warm-weather fashions, make sure you’re nourishing your skin from the inside out.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Just in time for spring-break beach escapes and shopping trips to buy warmer weather’s skin-baring fashions, here’s advice on what to eat to nourish your skin from the inside out. Nutrition plays a starring role in skin health and anti-aging because skin cells need certain nutrients to repair and regenerate.

We found some inspiration by checking spring fashion trends. The Pantone Color Institute, known for predicting the exact hue and shade of colors to hit runways, chose a palate for spring 2013 that sounds pretty food-friendly.

Lemon zest, nectarine and tender-shoots green are on their top-color list, along with poppy red for lips and fabrics. They’re on the top list for skin health, too.

Color me healthy

Citrus fruit, nectarines and green leafy vegetables are good sources of vitamin C, vital for building collagen, which is a spongy network of fibers that keeps skin plump, elastic and wrinkle-free.

Other sources of vitamin C include red peppers, tomatoes, strawberries and kiwi fruit.

For more skin health, think deep-red tomato sauce and red peppers for lycopene. This carotenelike compound may even help blunt sunburn damage.

A study in the British Journal of Dermatology showed that lycopene protected against ultraviolet-light exposure and reduced premature signs of aging in the skin.

Antioxidants found in a wide variety of plant foods, in a kaleidoscope of colors, protect against the oxidation or breaking down of cells in the body, including the skin. Don’t want to look like a prune? Eat more of them.

Water your skin

There’s something to that “fountain of youth.” Drinking water keeps skin moisturized from the inside.

Overdoing it at the bars or even coffee bars can show on your face. Avoid excess alcohol and caffeine, which dries and dehydrates skin and causes fine lines to be more visible.

Drink the equivalent of eight glasses of water a day.

And to make sure all that water you’re drinking is healthy, consider buying a carbon filtration system to reduce exposure to trihalomethanes and other water-treatment contaminants.

An analysis by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) of water supplies for Seattle, Tacoma and 199 other large municipal water systems in the U.S. showed that all are polluted with trihalomethanes. The chemicals are an unintended side effect of chlorination and can elevate the risks of bladder cancer, miscarriages and other serious ills.

The EWG analysis found that while all major U.S. water systems contained the chemicals, only one — in Davenport, Iowa — exceeded the Environmental Protection Agency’s upper legal limit of 80 parts per billion of trihalomethanes in drinking water.

Not all water comes from the tap. Some of the fluid that nourishes skin can come from water in fruits and vegetables.

Don’t skimp on protein, minerals

Protein and the mineral zinc are also essential for cell repair and wound healing. Sources of protein include poultry, fish, beef, pork, eggs, fat-free or low-fat milk, soy foods, beans, nuts, seeds and nut butters.

Sources of zinc include oysters, legumes or beans, nuts and seeds, oatmeal, poultry, wheat bran and wheat germ.

Healthy monounsaturated oils in olive oil and avocados help keep skin moisturized by regulating water content within the cell wall and help the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. The fats found in fish and seafood, omega-3 fats, help boost skin health, too.

Carolyn O’Neil is a registered dietitian and co-author of “The Dish on Eating Healthy and Being Fabulous!” Email her at carolynoneil@aol.com. This story also contains information from The Palm Beach Post.

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