Eczema is an itchy, non-contagious, inflammatory skin condition that usually first appears in early life. It can be incredibly frustrating, painful and often difficult to treat. The exact causes require further investigation but are likely to be multifactorial, consisting of a mix of genetic and environmental factors. Inflammation and creating trauma from scratching can cause further impairments to the function of the skin barrier.
To help support those with eczema, we’ve put together a list of 5 nutrients that may be worth incorporating into your daily diet:
- JSHealth Skin + Digestion vitamin
The Skin + Digestion formula contains Vitamin B2 and Vitamin C, two nutrients that work to support skin health. Vitamin C maintains connective tissue health, assists with collagen formation and plays a role in wound healing. Zinc relieves the symptoms of acne, pimples, and minor skin eruptions. Burdock is traditionally used in Western herbal medicine to relieve minor skin eruptions and symptoms of mild eczema and dermatitis.
- Omega-3 essential fatty acids
Omega-3 long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential for human nutrition. The benefits of fish oil are mainly credited to omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may alter the development of immune system allergies. If there is an imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 it can result in an increased production of inflammation and cause a shift towards an immune response. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in salmon, mackerel, sardines, walnuts, eggs, chia seeds and flaxseeds.
Zinc also plays a major role in immune status and contains wound healing properties. Zinc regulates the production of certain inflammatory biomarkers and increases the repair of the tissue that form on the outer layer of the body’s surface, which reiterates its success for the use of treating eczema and maintaining skin integrity. Topical zinc oxide has been used for the treatment of diaper and hand dermatitis. Examples of zinc rich foods include shellfish, lean red meat, pumpkin seeds, lentils, chickpeas, black beans, yoghurt, cashews and hemp seeds.
Quercetin is a naturally occurring polyphenol that exerts antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiallergic activity. Polyphenols are compounds found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices which also help to block activity of the cells that are responsible for releasing histamines during an allergic reaction. Quercetin helps to supress allergic inflammation and stress. Chat to your health practitioner about supplementation and make sure to include plenty of dark green leafy veggies, red onion, apples, grapes, cherries and green tea.
- Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat soluble, essential nutrient that exerts antioxidant activity. The human body cannot produce this, so our skin relies on oral or topical use, which is why many skin care brands contain vitamin E. This antioxidant protects the cell membrane responsible for detecting and destroying harmful pathogens and reduces production of inflammatory compounds. Some of the richest sources of vitamin E include almonds and sunflower seeds.
As always, when it comes to skin conditions it’s important to work with a health practitioner or dermatologist to determine an appropriate treatment plan for you.
- Gupta M, Mahajan V, Mehta K, Chauhan P. Zinc Therapy in Dermatology: A Review. Dermatology Research and Practice. 2014;2014:1-11.
- Weng Z, Zhang B, Asadi S, Sismanopoulos N, Butcher A, Fu X et al. Quercetin Is More Effective than Cromolyn in Blocking Human Mast Cell Cytokine Release and Inhibits Contact Dermatitis and Photosensitivity in Humans. PLoS ONE. 2012;7(3):e33805.
- Faghihi G, Jaffary F, Mokhtarian A, Hosseini S. Effects of oral vitamin E on treatment of atopic dermatitis: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Research in Medical Sciences. 2015;20(11):1053.
- Tsoureli-Nikita E, Hercogova J, Lotti T, Menchini G. Evaluation of dietary intake of vitamin E in the treatment of atopic dermatitis: a study of the clinical course and evaluation of the immunoglobulin E serum levels. International Journal of Dermatology. 2002;41(3):146-150.
- Palmer D, Sullivan T, Gold M, Prescott S, Heddle R, Gibson R et al. Randomized controlled trial of fish oil supplementation in pregnancy on childhood allergies. Allergy. 2013;68(11):1370-1376.