We often come across several brand endorsements of anti aging creams and serums by celebrities. It is an open secret that celebrities whom we look up to often take to botox treatments. But that doesn’t implicate anti-aging creams don’t work, as research has proved that hyaluronic-acid containing anti-wrinkle creams when used over a period of three months showed clear and positive effects on wrinkle-depth and skin-tightness. That being said the biggest indispensable fact is our skin reflects our general inner health and aging. Intrinsic skin aging is a natural process where skin ages in the same pattern as all internal organs do. Whereas extrinsic aging is result of several external factors like pollution, sleep deprivation, prolonged periods of exposure to sun and poor nutrition.
Combating free radicals (reactive oxygen species) with anti oxidants for anti-aging and other benefits is widespread knowledge. However what very few of us know is that our body naturally synthesizes enzymatic antioxidants that work by breaking down and removing free radicals. This process requires micro minerals like copper, zinc, manganese, and iron. Deficiency of micro minerals especially zinc and manganese is often overlooked. Zinc deficiency is manifested as skin, nail and hair problems. And manganese deficiency symptoms include impaired glucose sensitivity, low immunity and hormonal imbalances. Milk and cheese are the best foods for zinc and manganese deficiencies.
Whereas non-enzymatic oxidants like vitamins (A, C, and E) work by interrupting the free radical chain reactions, for promoting healthy skin and over all well being.
Vitamin C and E:
Vitamin C also known as ascorbic acid is not naturally synthesized by the human body and therefore adequate dietary intake of vitamin C is required as it is an essential micro nutrient. In human beings brain, pituitary and adrenal glands, skeletal muscle and liver have the highest concentrations of Vitamin C. So any deficiencies may lead to oxidative stress in these organs and therefore foods and supplements rich in Vitamin C are to be part of daily diet. The richest natural sources are fresh fruits and vegetables such as citrus fruits, blackcurrant, rose hip, guava, chili pepper or parsley.
Vitamin C degrades very fast in presence of air even before it is applied onto the skin and hence contrary to the popular belief of using topical creams of vitamin C for its anti-aging, anti-oxidative properties, it may not be much beneficial compared to daily intake.
Tocopherol (Vitamin E) is like vitamin C, a naturally occurring non-enzymatic antioxidant. Skin cells effected with prolonged sun exposure and UV rays oxidize the cell membrane causing a chain reaction leading to cell damage. Vitamin E acts by stopping this chain reaction. However, in this process Vitamin E gets oxidized and therefore requires presence of Vitamin C for its regeneration.
Unlike Vitamin C, Vitamin E when applied topically has more beneficial results. It is known to reduce erythema which is redness of skin, heal sunburned skin areas and prevent photocarcinogenesis. Skin damaged with sun exposure undergo photoaging, wherein the natural maturation of human dermal collagen is impaired compared to that of skin that ages naturally. In such cases topical and oral intake of natural vitamin E helps against collagen cross linking induced due to external factors.
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Carotenoids: Vitamin A derivatives are carotenoids. Human skin is enriched in lycopene and β-carotene. They are usually the dominating carotenoids in not only in our blood and tissues but also our skin is enriched with them. They are known to protect the skin against sunburn (solar erythema) by increasing the basal defense against UV light-mediated damage and lycopene in particular is known for mitigating oxidative stress to the tissues. Carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, mangos and papaya are some examples of β-carotene containing fruits and vegetables. And lycopene is found in tomatoes and other red fruits and vegetables, such as red carrots, watermelons and papayas. Tomatoes are used even topically for their skin protectant properties
Another carotenoid named retinol is important for the human body; however the body itself cannot synthesize it. It is essential for growth, differentiation and maintenance of epithelial tissues and influences reproduction. Sources rich in retinol are milk, egg yolk, cheese and fatty fish.
Polyphenols present in green tea has been postulated to protect skin from cutaneous signs of photoaging. These polyphenols are also known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties.
Best way for enhancing skin protection from free radical damage is to support the inherent antioxidant system of our body, with antioxidants containing products that are normally present in the skin. However, this should not be confused with a permanent intake of high dosages of supplements. No matter how many anti-aging products are introduced in market, fruits and vegetables consumption represent the most healthy and safe method in order to maintain a balanced diet and youthful appearing skin.