An important element in skincare and natural anti-ageing is to protect our cells against free radicals, which are aggressive oxygen compounds that we humans are exposed to. The free radical burden increases tremendously as a result of stress, too little sleep, ageing processes, smoking, inflammation, poisoning, medical drugs, and sunburns. Our only source of protection against free radicals is the presence of different antioxidants such as vitamins A, C, and E, selenium, zinc, and Q10, but we also need essential fatty acids. Optimal skincare requires that we get adequate quantities of the different nutrients, which are also an important element in our energy turnover. But what is skin ageing really? And why can we not simply stop it with anti-wrinkle creams, Botox, and plastic surgery? Also, which antioxidants and essential fatty acids are difficult to get in the right quantities?
Most of us like the thought of having a nice complexion and postponing saggy skin, wrinkles, and other visible signs of ageing. Eating a healthy diet, getting your beauty sleep, and exercising regularly plays an important role, needless to say, and it is also vital not to get sunburned. But what else can we do? Well, we know from experience that if you give fertilizer to a potted plant, it makes it grow faster and helps it produce more beautiful flowers. Taking extra nutrients can do the same to us humans and benefit our skin and our inner health. Even if you try the best you can to stick with the official dietary guidelines, getting the optimal amount of nutrients can be a big challenge. Moreover, studies show that the majority of us fail to adhere to the official recommendations, so we get too few vegetables and too little fish. Smoking and stress factors also deplete the body’s nutrient stores and speed up skin ageing, wrinkles and other ageing processes. Your skin needs certain nutrients that support the production of new skin cells and protect existing ones against oxidative stress caused by free radicals. It is also important to underline that there is a clear connection between interior and exterior maintenance.
The biological functions of skin
Although most of never pay much attention to our skin’s biological functions, they are a vital part of having a beautiful and healthy complexion. Your skin, which covers an area of approximately two square meters, is your largest organ and the different skin layers have the following functions:
- to remove waste material
- to maintain the liquid balance
- to regulate the body temperature
- to protect against harmful microorganisms
- to synthesize vitamin D from the sun
Because our skin is the largest organ, it needs quite a lot of nutrients and fluid to keep it healthy and supple. It is also important to have a well-functioning digestion and to make sure that waste products do not pile up in the skin. It is not enough to apply expensive creams from the outside. The most important thing is to nourish your skin from within.
|Men generally have fewer wrinkles, as their natural protective skin layer is thicker. Not surprisingly, women focus more on skincare.|
Ageing processes are often caused by a lack of nutrients
A lot of research deals with the ageing process with special focus on visible signs of ageing like wrinkles and saggy skin. According to the American biochemist Bruce Ames, different ageing processes are typically a result of not getting enough vitamins and minerals. As it turns out, the uptake and utilization of nutrients get increasingly worse, as we grow older. In other words, eating a healthy diet is no guarantee that skin cells and other cells are adequately supplied with the different vitamins and minerals. Because of that, many enzymatic processes slow down, and cells become increasingly fragile and vulnerable.
Did you know that different ageing processes begin in your twenties and thirties?
Make sure to get many antioxidants – they protect against free radicals
The only thing that protects against free radicals is different types of antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E, selenium, zinc, and different plant compounds. Herbs, fruit, berries, tomato and other vegetables, dark chocolate and green tea are good sources of different antioxidants. Most importantly, however, we must be sure to cover our need for the essential vitamins and minerals. We also need coenzyme Q10, which is both a powerful antioxidant and a key element in our energy turnover.
When a car gets rusty, free radicals are to blame. Just like cars needs an anti-corrosive treatment, your skin needs protection against the aggressive oxygen molecules.
Vitamin C – for your connective tissue and complexion
Your body needs vitamin C in order to produce collagen, which is essential for your complexion, skin elasticity, skin moisture, and the production of new cells. Vitamin C has many other functions in your body and is even an antioxidant that protects cells against free radicals.
If you get too little vitamin C, your collagen will tend to have a loose structure. A tendency to easy bruising, bleeding gums, and poor wound healing are all signs of subclinical scurvy.
The reference intake (RI) level for vitamin C, which is 80 mg, is able to prevent the classical deficiency disease, scurvy. The question is whether 80 mg is sufficient to provide optimal strength to the connective tissue and offer full support for other vitamin C-dependent functions throughout life.
Fruit and vegetables are good sources of vitamin C. However, in order to obtain the same amount of vitamin C as contained in a single tablet with 750 mg of non-acidic calcium ascorbate, you would have to eat at least 13 oranges or 53 apples.
|Vitamin C is important for the body’s production of collagen, which is included in over 30 percent of our total protein mass. We therefore also need sufficient amounts of protein – from meat, fish, eggs, legumes, nuts, and other sources.|
Selenium works wonders for your skin and for many other things
The trace element selenium supports over 30 different selenium-dependent proteins (selenoproteins) in your body that are important for the immune defense, cardiovascular system, and a number of other things. Selenoproteins also help maintain the structure in your skin. Selenium is even a powerful antioxidant that protects your cells against free radicals. A healthy and well-functioning cardiovascular system is extremely important for beautiful skin, as it provides nutrients and removes waste products.
Did you know that saggy and dry skin, hair loss, brittle nails, overweight, and double chin can be signs of slow metabolism? If you have slow metabolism, you may lack either selenium or iodine – or both.
Selenium sources and how to compensate for low selenium intake
Selenium is found mainly in fish and shellfish, organ meat, meat, eggs, and Brazil nuts (the richest selenium source). The soil in Europe contains very little selenium, and many Europeans get too little selenium for the same reason. In other countries such as the United States and Japan, the natural dietary selenium intake comes close to 200 micrograms daily. By taking selenium yeast with a multitude of different organic selenium species, it is possible to emulate the variety of selenium types that you get from eating a balanced diet.
Zinc and vitamin A for skin, eczema, and wound healing
Zinc is involved in around 300 different enzymatic processes. Zinc deficiencies are a major contributing factor in most skin ailments and poor wound healing. Zinc is also a precondition for our ability to utilize vitamin A, a nutrient with a major impact on skin health and a number of other functions.
Most people get enough vitamin A from the diet, but this is not the case with zinc. To make things worse, sugar, birth control pills, and inorganic iron supplements may impair your zinc uptake. If you take a zinc supplement, make sure to choose organic zinc, which the body can absorb more easily.
Smokers should pay careful attention to selenium and other antioxidants
Tobacco smoke exposes the body to a cascade of free radicals that can damage your skin cells and burden your cardiovascular system. Not surprisingly, there are several reasons why smokers often have wrinkled and sallow skin. For the very same reason, it is essential for smokers to make sure to get extra antioxidants like vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, and selenium, a trace element which also has a unique ability to neutralize carcinogenic heavy metals like cadmium.
The more free radicals we are exposed to, the more vulnerable we become. With increased free radical exposure, you should make sure to step up your intake of protective antioxidants.
Q10 also has positive effects on your skin and vitality
Q10 is a coenzyme that is involved in cellular energy turnover. Our primary Q10 source is the body’s own production, which begins to decrease gradually around the age of 20 years. Many people feel the lack of energy when they reach their 40s and 50s.
Fortunately, this is something you can compensate for by taking Q10 as a supplement. That way, you can get more vitality and postpone the age-related loss of energy.
Q10 even contributes to beautiful skin. First of all, Q10 stimulates the energy turnover in skin cells and supports cell rejuvenation. Secondly, Q10 is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells against free radicals. Thirdly, Q10 supports a healthy and well-functioning cardiovascular system that carries oxygen and nutrients to the skin cells, while removing waste products. You can increase the effect of Q10 significantly by combining it with selenium.
Remember to drink plenty of water. Your liquid balance is vital for a beautiful complexion.
Fatty acids make your skin soft and supple
If you want to pamper your skin and keep your youthful appearance, make sure to get your fats. What you need the most are the essential fatty acids, omega-3 and omega-6, which are structural components of all cell membranes and help keep skin and other soft tissues soft and supple. Omega-6 is primarily found in plant oils, nuts, kernels, and seeds. Omega-3 is found in oily fish, walnuts, and flaxseed oil. The essential fatty acids have different functions, and it is vital to consume them in the right balance and in an unspoiled form. Many people have an increased need for omega-3. Oily fish or fish oil capsules contain the omega-3 fatty acids called EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which the body can easily absorb and utilize.
B vitamins work as a team
B vitamins work together like a biological team and are particularly important for energy levels, the nervous system, the hormone system, blood cells, and skin and hair. Stress, junk food, stimulants, birth control pills, and diuretics can deplete the body’s stores of B vitamins.
|Remember to get your important beauty sleep|
Special supplements for your skin and for fighting age
Skincare is generally a matter of supporting different proteins and getting plenty of antioxidants that protect all cells in the body. You can find specific anti-ageing supplements on the market, some of which contain vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium yeast, organically bound zinc and biotin (vitamin B8) combined with extracts of deep-sea fish, horsetail, French Maritime Pine (pycnogenol), tomato, and blueberries. This blend provides some extremely powerful antioxidants and active compounds that support and nourish your skin, hair, and nails.
It may even be a good idea to get extra Q10, fish oil, and vitamin D.
It looks as if it may be an advantage to start early in life with relevant supplements to take care of your skin and postpose different internal and external signs of ageing.
As mentioned earlier, doing this is the same as giving fertilizer to your houseplants to make them bloom and thrive for longer.
Avoid altogether or limit your intake of empty calories
Sugar, soft drinks, chips, white flour, junk food, and alcohol contain empty calories. When they are converted to energy, cells are forced to use available vitamins and minerals to fuel different enzyme processes. This consumes nutrients that are needed for other purposes and may affect your skin and eventually contribute to the deterioration of the body, causing us to age faster.
It is generally a good idea to avoid altogether or limit your intake of empty calories and, if possible, compensate for any loss of vitamins and minerals.
A good example of how internal and external care are closely related
Most Japanese have beautiful complexion and look 10-15 years younger than their actual age. It is believed that their large consumption of fish and shellfish play an important role, as these are good sources of selenium, zinc, and omega-3.
Pernille Lund: Sund og smuk – hele livet. Ny Videnskab 2016
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