Your skin's elasticity---the trait that helps it spring back into shape after being touched---decreases as you age. Certain vitamins and minerals help skin maintain its shape, but beware of expensive products and their false advertising claims: some vitamins should be taken internally, some should be applied externally, and some lose their potency very quickly. Improve the elasticity of your skin from within and without by utilizing these heavy-hitting nutrients.
Vitamin C: Internally
Collagen, the most abundant protein in your body, is literally what holds you together. It keeps skin firm, plump, and smooth. Vitamin C is essential for collagen production. It's practically impossible to overdose on vitamin C, since it's water-soluble (meaning you'll pee out whatever your body doesn't use), so load up on citrus fruits, broccoli, bell peppers, berries, kale, and cauliflower.
Vitamin C: Externally
But that's not all vitamin C does: it's one of the few vitamins that can effectively penetrate skin when applied topically. It may help reduce sun damage and wrinkling since, as an antioxidant, it combats free radicals produced by the sun that damage your skin. However, vitamin C in a topical form is highly unstable. Check for products that have a concentration of higher than 5 percent, and look out for yellowing---that means the vitamin has oxidized, and is no longer effective.
Vitamin E: Externally
Vitamin E is another potent antioxidant that reduces free radical damage to skin. Unlike vitamin C, you should apply this vitamin to skin after you've been in the sun. It comes in an oil form, and helps to soothe and moisturize burnt skin. You can buy the oil in drug and health food stores, or you can purchase vitamin E capsules and cut them open with a pair of scissors.
Vitamin A: Externally
Don't rush to the health food store and overdose on vitamin A pills. Too much of this fat-soluble vitamin can cause your hair to fall out and your skin to become dry. However, the vitamin does have striking effects when applied topically. A study from the University of Michigan Medical Center showed that people with sun damage increased collagen production by 80 percent when using a skin cream with Retin-A (a form of the vitamin). It improves circulation to the skin and literally renews it. You can only purchase Retin-A cream from a dermatologist, and you'll need to pair it with a good moisturizer and sunscreen.
Selenium, a trace mineral found in the soil, doesn't get quite the press that the more well-known vitamins do. But don't underestimate this powerful nutrient. Selenium is an antioxidant, saving your skin from free radicals, and is particularly effective in fighting skin cancer. Too much is highly toxic, so don't take more than 400 mcg a day. Find it in Brazil nuts, the highest naturally occurring source of selenium, as well as tuna, garlic, onions, and broccoli.