The Inside Story
Nourishing the skin with topical ingredients is important, but in addition it is essential that you feed your skin nourishing food and drink. The effects of aging can be seen directly by looking at skin, not something possible for most organs in the body, which are hidden from view. The following are general considerations for nutritional optimization of skin function:
- As much as possible, remove all processed foods from your diet. There are two reasons for this. First, processed foods tend to contain high levels of sodium, sugar, fat, and other undesirables, such as color and preservatives. Second, processed foods usually contain less nutrition than whole foods. Strange as it may seem, "enriched bread" has had 60% of its minerals removed along with most of the fiber. Some nutrients have been added back, but only some. The nutrient density of processed foods is very low and leaves much to be desired.
- Eat foods that are natural and whole, such as whole grains, fresh or frozen vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds, and so forth. Your plate should contain mainly fruits, vegetables, and grains with a small amount of protein, such as fish or poultry, added.
- Drink plenty of water: 8 glasses a day are recommended. (Some of our water requirements can come from fruits and vegetables.)
- Do not fry foods or barbecue them for long periods of time.
- Use alcohol only in moderation: one drink a day, for example.
- Eat foods that are high in antioxidants. These foods are highly colored, such as cantaloupe, spinach, berries, and cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, and sprouts).
- Remove sugar and saturated fats. Use a sweetener if you like.
- Take a good multivitamin with an added antioxidant formula, particularly mixed carotenes, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and zinc. Add some vitamin A, the "skin vitamin," together with supplements of RNA and B vitamins (for coenzymes) and the minerals zinc, copper, and manganese. These provide even more intensive protection against damaging free radicals. The increased cellular energy helps the skin repair, renew, and revitalize itself.
Foods rich in nucleic acids (RNA), such as sardines, salmon, tuna, shellfish, lentils, and beans, help improve cell energy through a "salvage pathway".
Foods rich in antioxidants and other phytochemicals, such as fruits, vegetables, and green tea, help protect against oxidative damage and free radical attack of all body cells including the skin.
Aging causes a progressive decline in our ability to internally synthesize the essential fatty acids (EFAs) required by the skin to maintain a youthful, moist appearance. The most important oils to supplement are the omega-3s that can make the skin smoother, softer, and more radiant-looking. When skin is properly nourished, it shows less of the effects of aging. The oral ingestion of fish, flax, or perilla oil provides abundant quantities of the omega-3 fatty acids that are so beneficial to the health and appearance of the skin. Also, if there is a tendency to develop eczema (a common skin condition), oil of Evening Primrose or borage oil are essential nutrients to be supplemented.
Avoidance of more than modest exposure to the sun's UV light is critically important to protect the skin against the oxidizing effects of solar radiation. UV rays are categorized by wavelengths: UVA, UVB, and UVC.
The ozone layer filters out the UVC and many of the UVB rays, but the ozone layer is not the same as it used to be and seems to have little or no effect on UVA rays which make up 90% or more of the sun's radiation that reaches the earth. Indeed, it is exposure to UVA that causes most of the photo-aging damage: the premature wrinkles, loss of elasticity, hyperpigmentation, and a dry, dull, leathery texture.
UVB, which is most intense from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., can cause sunburns and basal-cell cancers of the skin as well as increase the risk of melanomas. Yet sunscreens, which are geared to filter out UVB, seem to have no effect on the incidence of melanoma. Of interest are studies showing that people who are continuously exposed to the sun - farmers and fisherman, for example - seem to be less at risk for melanoma than a vacationer, especially a fair-skinned sunbather who exposes his or her skin to intense sun for a few days or a week.A Word about Vitamin D
Recent publications regarding the adequacy of vitamin D in the general population have been alarming. It appears as though not only are people not getting enough of this vitamin, but that even in the summer months the amount is suboptimal in some population groups in the northern latitudes (i.e., above the 35th parallel) ( Viethl et al 2001). Most of our vitamin D comes from sunlight, specifically the UVB fraction. Lack of sun exposure will, in time, inevitably lead to suboptimal levels of vitamin D ( Tangpricha et al. 2002). The supplemented form of vitamin D found in milk is insufficient to bring levels to normal ( Trang et al. 1998). Milk is fortified with vitamin D2,, not vitamin D3, which is the active component. Vitamin D2 is also the form of vitamin D that is likely to lead to toxicity if taken in large quantities. What is the answer? First, if you live above the 35th parallel, make sure you obtain at least 400 IU a day of vitamin D3 in supplement form.
Some doctors are advising much higher amounts of vitamin D3 to protect against cancer. Because this is such an inexpensive vitamin, doses up to 1400 IU daily should be considered without the need for blood tests to guard against vitamin D toxicity. Some research indicates that much higher amounts of supplemental vitamin D3 are safe and desirable.Thyroid Function
Like most hormones in our body, as we age, less and less thyroid hormone is available. Glands, which produce these hormones, become sluggish or irregular. The thyroid gland is no exception. Often physicians will see patients who are not only overweight, but who also have dry, flaky, sluggish skin. A thyroid profile in the blood will often show a low or borderline-low thyroid function. Nutrients and foods which support the thyroid such as sea vegetables, seafood, fish, and iodized sea salt, or prescription thyroid preparations such as Armour or Cytomel, when necessary, can reverse this form of skin aging.Hormones and Skin
DHEA and Melatonin
- DHEA and Melatonin
- DHEA Saves Skin
- Melatonin Protects
- Prevention of Skin Aging And Cancer
- Vitamin A and Skin Tumors
The sleep hormone (melatonin) and the anti-stress hormone (DHEA) are both found in human skin. Both are converted to other entities with important jobs to do. DHEA is converted into estrogen- and androgen-type metabolites found only in skin (Labrie et al. 2000). Melatonin is synthesized in skin. In low concentrations it can stimulate cell growth. This type of on-site, organ-specific production of hormones is called intracrine biosynthesis . Intracrine biosynthesis allows different organs to manufacture the substances they need without flooding the entire body with growth factors.
Estrogen's skin-enhancing effects are well-known (Dunn et al. 1997; Shah et al. 2001). It provokes collagen and a moisture factor known as hyaluronic acid . Aging decreases both estrogen and collagen. Enzymes that convert DHEA to estrogen also decline. Not surprisingly, women who take synthetic estrogen have scientifically proven thicker skin. Women who take both estrogen and testosterone have really thick skin (48% thicker than women who don't take either hormone) (Brincat et al. 1983). DHEA is converted to both estrogen and testosterone, providing the benefits of both hormones.
Although the exact roles of DHEA and melatonin in human skin are still under scrutiny, researchers have identified several mechanisms through which these hormones protect against aging, maintain the health of skin, and affect how sunlight reacts with skin cells.
Skin is such a specialized organ that it has its own immune system. It has been proposed that faulty skin immunity affects the entire immune system. Sunlight can penetrate deep into skin and alter immunity directly, or it can cause changes in dermis and epidermis that provoke immune changes. Sunlight affects hormones. It decreases melatonin, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine, and increases cortisol, serotonin, GABA, and dopamine.
Studies show that both DHEA and melatonin are absorbed by skin when applied topically. A study from CHUL Research Center (in Canada) shows that the activity of DHEA applied topically is 85-90% greater than when taken orally (at least in rodents). No special carriers are needed to get DHEA and melatonin into skin. A properly formulated topical preparation of melatonin and DHEA will contain just enough hormone to benefit skin without providing enough to escape into circulation. It makes sense to apply the hormones directly to the skin if skin protection is the goal, since ingested hormones may end up everywhere but the skin (Labrie et al. 2000).DHEA Saves Skin
DHEA has beneficial effects beyond its conversion to skin-friendly hormones. DHEA itself has powerful skin protective effects. A study in the Journal of Surgical Research demonstrates the extraordinary ability of topically applied DHEA to protect skin's delicate blood vessels. Researchers found that if DHEA was applied after a serious burn, the blood vessels underlying the burned area are protected (Araneo et al. 1995). Protecting the blood vessels saves the skin. Skin and blood vessels that would otherwise die and peel off can be saved by DHEA. No one knows for sure how DHEA saves skin this way, but its anti-inflammatory action no doubt has something to do with it. DHEA prevents destructive white blood cells and their biochemical cousins from gearing up. In particular, DHEA affects a blood vessel killer known as "tumor necrosis factor."
DHEA has action against everyday insults as well. By maintaining skin immunity, DHEA preserves the ability of skin to react to cancer-causing, skin-destroying pollutants in air, food, and water. DHEA also has antioxidant action against peroxyl and superoxide free radicals.
Free radical defense may have a lot to do with DHEA's ability to prevent skin cancer and papillomas (benign tumors). According to several studies in mice, topically applied DHEA keeps oxidant-loving enzymes at bay. Chemicals with carcinogenic potential depend on oxidases for transformation. DHEA's antioxidant action stops them (Schwartz et al. 1986a; Schwartz et al. 1986b; Hastings et al. 1988). DHEA has another important defense: It keeps chemical carcinogens from binding to DNA (Pashko et al. 1985; Pashko et al. 1991).Melatonin Protects
Melatonin is an antioxidant hormone that protects against UV radiation (Fischer et al. 1999). A group at the University of Zurich has shown that topical melatonin gives excellent protection against sunburn if applied before sun exposure (Bangha et al. 1997). Melatonin also appears to have a role in repairing burned skin. In a study in Brain Research Bulletin , melatonin levels rose 6 hours after burn injury, then fell to normal (Scott et al. 1986).
In small amounts, melatonin causes skin cells to proliferate. (In large amounts, it stops proliferation.) People with psoriasis and atopic eczema do not have normal melatonin secretion. Instead of peaks, they have valleys. With psoriasis, melatonin peaks in the day when it shouldn't, and patients have little at night. It is surprising that a hormone connected to sleep has a lot to do with skin health, but maybe not to those researchers who consider the pineal gland another endocrine gland. Melatonin is secreted by the pineal gland.Prevention of Skin Aging and Cancer
It seems reasonable to avoid midday sun when possible and avoid tanning salons. Use protective clothing, hats, and umbrellas during prolonged sun exposure. Apply and reapply sunscreen or use preparations that contain micronized zinc oxide or titanium oxide for more complete protection.
Published research indicates that both children and adults are still spending considerable time in the sun during peak UV exposure periods (Kozarev 1998). A survey conducted on 51 physician volunteers of various specialties showed that 33% spent more than 2 peak UV hours outdoors every day and another 33.33% are regularly sun exposed for at least 5 hours. Only 39% of the survey group regularly used sunscreen and those that did used an inadequate amount for full body protection. A majority of the respondents did not believe that sunscreens protected against skin cancer, but they did believe that sunscreens could slow the aging process. Common reasons for not using sunscreen were the amount of time involved in application and the relative high cost. The researcher concluded that participants lacked well-formed sun protection habits and that there continues to be a poor understanding of the need for sun protection despite worldwide campaigns warning of the dangers.
Use a good sun protection formula containing antioxidant vitamins and sun protection factor (SPF) 15. Vitamins A, C, and E, contained in some formulas, protect skin cells from free radical damage caused by UV light exposure. The formula should be moisture-proof, sweat-resistant, and should be able to be worn under makeup.
Also use a body lotion containing some titanium oxide, glycolic acid (alpha- and beta-hydroxys), vitamin C, and melatonin, which protects against photo-aging of the skin epidermis.
Some products contain minimal sunscreen protection (SPF-12), but contain ingredients such as vitamin C complex, vitamin E, Ceraphyl GA-D, vitamin A, and RNA. These do more to prevent and repair DNA damage than even the strongest sunscreen.
Anti aging creams that contain all the anti aging ingredients (including DHEA and melatonin) to help the skin to repair, renew, and revitalize itself are available. These creams must contain the precise DHEA amounts and melatonin, together with associated factors, that work specifically in the epidermis of the skin, not transdermally. These creams may be used at night or during the day with a sunscreen.Vitamin A and Skin Tumors
One of the most disfiguring skin diseases is the appearance of cancer. A study was done to compare the effects of dietary administration of a vitamin A drug (13-cis-retinoic acid) to the natural form of vitamin A (retinyl palmitate). Female mice were administered a chemical carcinogen to evaluate the incidence and severity on mouse skin tumor promotion. The results showed that retinyl palmitate inhibited the number and weight of tumors, whereas 13-cis-retinoic acid resulted in a decrease in weight, but not in number of tumors promoted (Gensler et al. 1987).
In another study, tumors were chemically induced in a group of Swiss mice over a 23-week period. The topical application of 13-cis-retinoic acid was compared to natural vitamin A (retinyl palmitate). This study showed that both retinyl palmitate and 13-cis-retinoic acid inhibited the development of skin papillomas and also had a marked effect on skin cancers (Abdel-Galil et al. 1984). Vitamin A may be one of the better-documented vitamins to protect against several types of human cancers. One of its mechanisms is to induce healthy differentiation and apoptosis of aged cells. The value of vitamin A in protecting the skin is to help facilitate cell renewal and possibly prevent skin cancers.SUMMARY
Not only is skin the largest organ in the human body, it is arguably one of the most important as well. The age-accelerating effect of UV rays has been documented to the point where protecting the skin against sun exposure is mandatory.
Diet and lifestyle changes can have a potent effect on the appearance and health of the skin. In fact, published findings indicate that one may have more control over the rate at which their skin ages than any other organ of the body. To slow skin aging and partially reverse it, an individual must take a comprehensive approach to gain control over all of the factors that have been identified in the skin degeneration process. Scientific evidence now indicates that, in addition to proper nutrition and health care, the daily application of a variety of agents plays an important role in the preservation and rejuvenation of skin.Rejuvenex
is one such agent. Its scientifically backed ingredients have been shown to limit or reverse the effects of aging or damaged skin. Rejuvenex has been continually upgraded as new findings appear in the scientific literature. With the advent of the QuSome delivery system, it is now possible to concentrate potent doses of alpha lipoic acid, DMAE, RNA, vitamins A, C, E, natural moisturizing factors, and other active agents into the deeper layers of the skin.
By encasing the active ingredients using QuSome technology, Rejuvenex is now able to provide more alpha hydroxy acid to the skin's surface to slough off older unsightly cells, while simultaneously nourishing and protecting living cells in the dermis and lower epidermis.
What follows are different approaches that can help prevent and reverse the effects of aging on the skin:Diet:
- RNA-rich foods such as sardines, salmon, tuna, shellfish, lentils, and beans help improve cell energy through a "salvage pathway."
- Antioxidant- and phytochemical-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and green tea help protect against oxidative damage and free radical attack of all body cells including the skin.
- Avoid processed foods whenever possible.
- Antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E; bioflavonoids; and the minerals selenium, zinc, and manganese provide protection against damaging free radicals and help to repair, renew, and revitalize skin. A convenient way of obtaining all of these nutrients is to take 3 tablets 3 times a day of the Life Extension Mix multinutrient formula.
- Essential fatty acids are required by the skin to maintain a moist youthful appearance. One or more of the following EFAs may be considered:
- Super GLA/DHA containing high potency gamma linolenic acid (GLA) from borage oil and DHA and EPA from marine lipid extract, three 1000-mg softgels twice daily.
- Borage oil, one or two 1300-mg softgels daily.
- Perilla oil, six 1000-mg softgels daily.
- Flaxseed oil, six 1000-mg softgels daily.
Several antioxidants are beneficial when applied topically to the skin. Look for formulas containing one or more of the following ingredients:
- Rejuvenex contains ascorbyl palmitate, alpha lipoic acid, DMAE, alpha hydroxy acid, vitamin E, Ceraphyl GA-D, vitamin A, RNA, hylauronic acid, NaPCA, and other active agents. These ingredients are more effective than the strongest sunscreen in prevention and repair of DNA damage. Suggested use is as a day cream.
- Dream Cream contains the hormones DHEA and melatonin and is most often used as a night cream. The ingredients in Dream Cream work specifically in the epidermis of the skin, not transdermally.
- Rejuvenex Body Lotion, containing titanium oxide, glycolic acid, vitamin C, and melatonin, protects against photo-aging of the epidermis.
- Apply and reapply sunscreen or use preparations that contain micronized zinc oxide or titanium oxide for more complete protection. (Use protective clothing, hats, and umbrellas during prolonged sun exposure.)
- If skin is dry and flaky, consider a thyroid blood profile to determine if the thyroid gland is producing an adequate amount of hormone.
- Consider retinoic acid drugs such as Retin-A (tretinoin) and tazarotene to reverse sunlight damage.