Nutrition & Skin Discoloration

Skin discoloration, defined as any change in the natural color of the skin, can occur for a variety of reasons. Skin can turn lighter or darker or can gain a tinge of red, orange, yellow, blue or green color. The most common form of skin discoloration is melasma, dark patches that form on the face. Some changes in skin color are caused by changes in nutrition, while others can be treated through changes in the diet.

A pile of fresh carrots. (Image: Design Pics/Design Pics/Getty Images)


While diseases or hormonal imbalances cause some instances of skin discoloration, certain nutrients missing from the diet can be a factor. A deficiency in folic acid or PABA amino acids can lead to melasma, especially during pregnancy or when a woman is on birth control pills. This type of skin discoloration is usually temporary and can be reduced by increasing consumption of the missing nutrients.


Too much copper in the diet can cause discoloration in skin since it boosts melanin production. This is a rare condition, since most people don't consume much of this nutrient, but it does occasionally occur.

A temporary change in skin color can be the result of overdosing on beta carotene, a type of vitamin A. This nutrient can cause the skin to become orange or red when taken in excess. No treatment is necessary for this type of discoloration, as it will go away on its own within a few hours


Vitamins, carotenoids and polyunsaturated fatty acids have been shown to provide a protective effect on skin, which can help prevent unwanted changes in skin color. Eating a variety of foods with these components can protect skin against discoloration. Adding antioxidants, found in fresh fruits and vegetables, to the everyday diet can protect the skin from sun damage that can cause or accelerate skin discoloration.

Dietary Treatment

Treating skin discoloration using nutritional supplements and dietary changes is possible in some cases. Adding folic acid to the diet often helps reduce skin discoloration. This nutrient can be found in leafy greens, nuts, liver and whole grains as well as in supplement form. PABA amino acids are another nutritional remedy to try for skin discoloration. Fresh fruit, vegetables, mushrooms, yeast and molasses are good sources of PABA.

Herbs and Spices

Adding certain herbs and spices to the diet can also help reduce skin discoloration. Dandelion and watercress can be added to salads to give an added folic acid boost and provide protective antioxidant and phytochemical components that fortify and protect skin color.

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