Antioxidants for healthy looking skin
A healthy cocktail of a balanced diet, exercise, micronutrient supplementation and the use of topical cosmeceuticals rich in these antioxidants, is the optimal approach for healthy-looking skin.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)
This antioxidant acts as a first defence against free radicals. It inhibits damage of cellular lipids and regenerates vitamin E. Studies have shown an inverse relationship between ascorbic acid blood levels and prostaglandin levels, which are pro-inflammatory mediators central to many diseases. Vitamin C is also essential in collagen formation.
Vitamin E prevents oxidative damage by acting directly with free radicals. Studies have shown a synergistic effect of vitamin C and E together. Tocopherols belong to the vitamin E family and scavenge free radicals formed through UV exposure. These vitamins are now often included in sunscreens for their “buffering” effects. Vitamin E is also associated with lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and sun damage.
Vitamin A is essential in maintaining healthy mucosa and epithelial tissue. Beta-carotene and other carotenoids such as lycopene, derived from foods such as tomato, are essential in UV-exposure protection. They quench free radicals with their strong antioxidant properties. Studies have investigated melanocyte activity post-UV-induced skin damage. UV damage initiates tyrosine-induced pigmentation and increased melanin production. Carotenoids, in conjunction with vitamin C and E, may positively influence pigmentation caused by damaged melanocytes.
This is a mineral antioxidant that is responsible for tissue elasticity, and prevents free radical tissue damage. Loss of skin elasticity is associated with sagging and aging skin.
This is a hormone vital for cellular functioning and immune function regulation. Recent studies suggest that vitamin D supplementation may reduce inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis and the overall incidence of cancer.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid is associated with diluting UVB-related sunburn, free radical production, skin carcinogenesis and inflammatory skin diseases such as psoriasis.
Coenzyme Q10 protects against oxidative stress and enhances the synthesis of skin dermal components. These are important for anti-aging actions such as the reduction of wrinkles. Studies have shown that coenzyme Q10 accelerates the production of skin fibroblasts, cells centered around collagen production. Collagen is essential in forming the meshwork of the skin and has an anti-sagging effect. The exact mechanisms of coenzyme 10 are still to be established.
Science-backed nutrients include:
Sun protection: Lycopene (found in tomatoes), polyphenols (in green tea and pomegranates), resveratrol (in red wine, grapes and peanuts) and cocoa flavonoids can prevent damage from UV rays.
Anti-aging: Hyaluronic acid, coQ10, collagen, and vitamins A, C and E may support skin-cell health and collagen production to stave off environmental damage that can cause wrinkles.
Dry or irritated skin: Omega-3 and probiotics may help soothe from the inside. Research shows that in addition to digestive benefits, friendly bacteria may fight dermatitis.
Hair and nails: As natural components of skin, hair and nails, collagen and silica strengthen and grow these areas.