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Pregnant skin demands special attention from the inside out in order to maintain elasticity and healthy tone. In fact, many lotions are enriched with skin-healing vitamins and emollients that can be beneficial during pregnancy. To nourish the skin internally, vitamins such as A, C and E may be beneficial if advised by your midwife or obstetrician. Most prenatal vitamins do contain adequate amounts of these skin-friendly vitamins, so consult with your prenatal caregiver before adding additional supplements to your diet.
Vitamin A is found in dark leafy greens and yellow or orange fruits and vegetables, such as:
- butternut squash
- red peppers
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this vitamin, also called beta carotene, is beneficial for keeping eyes and skin healthy as well as protecting against infections of the skin or within the immune system 1. For healthy skin during pregnancy, vitamin A is an essential nutrient.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient found in many skin care products and food items. Because this vitamin is water soluble, which means it is not stored in fat and must be replaced daily, the only symptom of consuming too much is loose stools and mild stomach discomfort. Vitamin C is available naturally in foods such as:
- rose hips
- sweet potatoes
- sweet peppers
- Brussels sprouts
Vitamin C is essential for skin health and elasticity both externally and internally during pregnancy.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin found most abundantly in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils such as extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil and canola oil. Significant amounts are also readily available in dark leafy greens. According to The Office of Dietary Supplements, this emollient nutrient promotes elasticity in the skin and is used in many topical creams and serums to prevent or reduce the effects of scaring. Because skin is produced from the inside dermal layers, consuming food based nutrients with vitamin E may be more effective in promoting skin health during pregnancy than applying to skin after damage has been done. Skin care products that contain vitamin E often boast elimination of stretch marks during pregnancy, but these claims are unsubstantiated by research.
There is no lotion, cream or dietary regime that can promise the prevention of stretch marks. Stretch marks are largely hereditary and while supple skin is less prone to breakage, there is no guarantee that any vitamin, food or external applications will prevent or remove this type of dermal scarring. However, applications of emollients rich in vitamin A, C and E may reduce brittle skin and the itching common in pregnancy as skin is stretched taut to accommodate the growing fetus. In addition, emollients such as these offer a welcome and nourishing excuse for a well-deserved prenatal massage from a willing partner.
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