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January 2024
Food for thought…err…Food for Skin
By - Dr. Sejal Saheta
Myths – Half Truths – Absolute Truths.

While I generally detest clichés, it is hard to not start this article with the phrase “You are what you eat.” While I would like to profess this about your skin too, I must admit that this is at best a half-truth.

Over these years I have had a considerable number of patients who have come to me with a skin condition that does not remit even after them having sworn off meat, vegetables, dairy… you name it.

It has always been an uphill battle for dermatologists to explain that for the health of your skin, hair and nails a nutritious diet is extremely important and it is not true that consumption of a single food item or group of food items can be blamed for skin conditions.

That said; let’s get down to the basics of Nutrition and Skin:

  • Remember when talking about the health of skin, hair and nails… we are seeking a healthy well-balanced diet.
  • Changes in the health of skin, hair and nails occur due to deficiency of macronutrients (carbs, fats, proteins) as well as micronutrients (vitamins and minerals)

How do these deficiencies come about?

The number one reason for healthy individuals to get nutritional deficiency is extreme diet regimens that focus narrowly on a group of foods to achieve short term goals like weight gain, weight loss or muscle gain… These can be disastrous to overall health and should be avoided at all costs.

Other causes include serious medical conditions (which are often first indicated in the skin), chronic illnesses, ageing, and chronic alcoholism and so on.

(Please note that this article speaks about malnutrition in generally healthy individuals who have the option of choosing their food and lifestyles. Malnutrition remains a serious problem in India with one-third of world’s all malnourished children living in India.

Should I not avoid foods when I have certain skin conditions?

While traditional ‘wisdom’ suggests that foods have strong co-relations to certain skin conditions, medical science has proven time and again that these co-relations are tenuous at best and patients are generally healthier just following a well-balanced diet.

So here are some myths that you may want to reconsider

  1. Acne v/s Dairy: Well have you ever seen young children who gorge on chocolates or dairy products having acne… NO… and you never will… because the primary cause of acne remains hormonal changes and believe it or not, dairy has nothing to do with it.


  1. Vitiligo v/s Dairy: White patches does not mean that white coloured foods cause them… Vitiligo is an autoimmune disease that can be managed with a healthy lifestyle and medications. (not by irrational beliefs)



  1. Chicken Pox v/s Meats: There is a strong belief in the overall India Psyche about “Body Heat” an unprovable, unfathomable concept to all medical practitioners. Chickenpox is caused by viral infections and has nothing to do with what you eat.


  1. Fugal Rashes v/s Meats: Once again there does not exist the concept of “body heat” and rashes that patients often complain about are more a result of not so good hygiene.


Well, I can go on and on, but you get the concept.

So Back to the Real Deal:


It helps to know what lack of certain nutrients can so to your body. And I will aim here to give you a general gist of what can happen to you if you do not follow a balanced diet and have a deficit of macro or micronutrients. Also listed below is the best source of food that you can incorporate into your diet in case you are diagnosed with a particular deficiency.


Deficiency Visible Effects Best Source of Nutrition
Protein – Hair Thinning
– Brittle Nails
– impaired healing of wounds
– Increased chances of infections
– Growth impairment in children
– Lean Meat
– Eggs
– Dairy
– Beans, Lentils, Legumes
– Soy Products
– Seeds & Nuts
Vitamin E Dry & Scaly Skin – Nuts & Seeds
– Vegetable Oils
– Soybean Oils
– Spinach & Broccoli
Vitamin A Dry & Rough spiny rashes on elbows, arms thighs (Toad Skin) – Cod Liver Oil
– Eggs
– Breakfast Cereals
– Orange & Yellow Vegetables & Fruits
Vitamin K Increased Chances of Bruises – Green Leafy Vegetables
– Vegetables like cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli
– fish, Meats & Eggs
Vitamin D – Hair Thinning
– Hair Fall
– Dairy
– Fatty Fish
– Liver & Meats
– Cheese
– Egg Yolks
  • Vitamin B Complex (B1, B2, B3, B6, B12)
– Pale skin especially around the mouth
– Whitish discolouration n peeling around angle of mouth
– Swelling of tongue
– Flaky skin around side of the nose, behind ears, eyelids
– Patchy hair loss
– Sun burn like patches on v of neck, forearms, elbows, knees, feet
– Thinning of hair, premature greying of hair
– Increased skin pigmentation
– Brittle nails
– Whole grains
– Meat (red meat, poultry, fish)
– Eggs and dairy products
– Legumes
​- Seeds and Nuts
– Dark, leafy vegetables (broccoli, spinach etc.)
– Fruits (citrus fruits, avocados, bananas)
  • Biotin
– Dry Skin
– Hair Fall
– Generalized Pale Skin
– Egg Yolk
– Liver & Other Meats
– Avocado
– Nuts & Seeds
– Salmon
– Dairy
– Broccoli
  • Vitamin C
– Bruises
– Delayed wound healing
– Bleeding gums
– Poor collagen formation that is necessary for skin tightening.
– Citrus Fruits
– Vegetables (Broccoli, Cauliflower)
  • Zinc
– Itchy scaly rashes around palms and soles
– Hair thinning, easy breaking of hair
– Rough nails
– Increased chances of infections
– Shell Fish
– Legumes
– Nuts & Seeds
– Dairy
– Whole Grains
  • Iron
– Acute hair fall
– Nail changes like spoon-shaped nails
– Red swollen tongue
– Increased chances of infections
– Meats
– Green Vegetables
– Nuts & Seeds
– lentils & beans

Given the above, it would be apparent that certain groups are more prone to nutritional deficiency and should take more precautions. These include women, chronically ill, older adults, vegetarians and vegans.

With all of the above said, here’s some food for thought, body and soul…

As dermatologists, patients come to us with issues of the apparent and visible nature, it remains for a good doctor to help the patient focus on the beauty they have inside and out.


Built on more than a decade of experience of Dr. Sejal Saheta, we are the honest and affordable, skin and hair care clinic. Our goal is to make each patient comfortable and happy with their appearance with the least amount of intervention.

Equipped with the latest technology, here qualified and trained doctors conduct and supervise all procedures in strict adherence to protocols developed by Dr. Saheta.

We are happy to be a part of your journey to reach your health goals. If you think we have been able to help you, please do review us:

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This article is one in a series of articles on skin conditions by Dr. Sejal Saheta – MD, DNB – Dermatology and Venereology. The objective of this series is to educate the reader and help them take precautions against various skin conditions they come across on an everyday basis. These articles are not meant to be used by patients for self-diagnosis or for avoiding proper medical treatment. The images used in the above blogs are just for the visual representation of the treatment results may vary from patient to patient.

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