Vitamins for Skin Superfoods – Spinach
Spinach, or Spinacia Oleracea, is a leafy green vegetable that originated in Persia. Related to beets and quinoa, it belongs to the amaranth family, and is high in nutritional value. A rich source of vitamins for skin, it also contains many carotenoids, nitrates and other beneficial compounds for skin and overall health.
Spinach contain many important nutrients that are beneficial for skin health such as carotenoids lutein, and zeaxanthin, various types of vitamins, and micronutrients like iron. In a cross sectional study investigating the association between skin wrinkling and dietary intake, researchers found that there was a significant negative association with green leafy vegetables. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach are good sources of beta carotene and lutein. In short, these carotenoids are photoprotective, and help to prevent extracellular matrix break down.
Additionally, spinach is also high in antioxidants from its many vitamins for skin, the various carotenoids it contains, and quercetin. Antioxidants help to neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules. Thus, they protect our skin from oxidative stress. According to a small study, 8 people drinking 240ml of spinach juice daily prevented oxidative damage to DNA.
Vitamins for skin
Vitamins are essential for maintaining skin health, function and appearance. Spinach is a rich source of vitamins for skin, namely vitamin A, C and K. For example, it is high in carotenoids that are converted into vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant, that has anti-aging properties as it helps to prevent oxidative stress.
Furthermore, with strong anti-oxidative properties, vitamin C helps to fight against free radicals in the epidermis. In the thick inner dermis, vitamin C is needed to produce and maintain collagen. It also increases proliferation and migration of fibroblasts, the cells that produce collagen. Additionally, it is also has anti-inflammatory effects as it regulates signalling pathways related to inflammation.
One observational study with 4000 participants aged 40-74 suggested that a diet rich in vitamin C and linoleic acid is associated with younger-looking skin. Another study in Japan suggested green and yellow vegetables such as spinach, may be the best choice for healthy skin.
Spinach is a versatile ingredient that can be eaten raw in salads, steamed, blended, or sauteed with other vegetables. Additionally, it is also a very easy crop to grow at home and can be planted year round in most climates.
Carbs – Most of the carbs in spinach consist of fiber, which is very healthy. Furthermore, it also contains small amounts of sugar in the form of glucose and fructose.
Fiber – Spinach is high in insoluble fiber which are beneficial to your health in the following ways:
- Attracts water to your stool, making it softer and easier to pass
- Promotes bowel health and regularity
Vitamins and Minerals
- Vitamin A: Spinach is a rich source of carotenoids, which your body converts to Vitamin A, beneficial for eye, bone, and skin health
- Folic Acid (or Vitamin B9): Important for normal cell function and cell growth, especially beneficial for pregnant women
- Vitamin C: This vitamin is a powerful antioxidant with free radical scavenging properties that keep your skin healthy and promotes immune function
- Vitamin K1: Essential for blood clotting, one leaf contains over half of your daily needs.
- Iron: Contains high amounts of this essential mineral. Iron helps to create hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to your body’s tissues
- Calcium: Crucial for bone health and an important signalling molecule for your nervous system, heart and molecules
Other beneficial vitamins and minerals spinach contains are magnesium, potassium, vitamin B6, B9, and E.
Other plant compounds:
- Lutein: Linked to improved eye health
- Zeaxanthin: Similar to lutein, zeaxanthin can also improve eye health
- Quercetin: This compounds is a potent antioxidant and is anti-inflammatory. In short, spinach is one of the richest dietary sources of quercetin.
- Nitrates: The vegetable contains high amounts of nitrates, which may promote heart health.
Health Benefits of Spinach
Free radicals are unstable molecules that in their quest to find an electron, can cause damage to your skin and other cells. This results in oxidative stress, that can weaken living cells and tissues, and can leave you more vulnerable to other health issues.
Spinach is a rich source of antioxidants, that can help the body to fight against oxidative stress. Furthermore, studies have showed that the vegetable helped prevent oxidative damage.
Rich in the carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein, consumption of spinach can be beneficial for eye health. Zeaxanthin and Lutein are pigments present in the human eye that can protect against the damage caused by sunlight.
For example, several studies have also shown that zeaxanthin and lutein help to prevent macular degeneration and cataracts, both of which are major causes of blindness.
Spinach has high amounts of nitrates, which has shown to help regulate blood pressure levels and decrease risk of heart disease. For instance, one study showed that eating spinach effectively lowered the blood pressure of the 27 participants.