Nutritional Supplements to Help Skin Age Gracefully
Aging is inevitable, and many are in search of the everlasting fountain of youth. The million-dollar question is… what is the secret to healthy skin and aging gracefully?
The Factors That Make Skin Age
The skin ages through the combined effects of biologic aging and extrinsic aging from the environment such as sunlight, smoking, toxins, pollution, and inflammation.1 These factors contribute to the aging process through the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that damage important components of the skin, like collagen.2
Certain micronutrients, from either oral supplementation or foods, are antioxidants, which achieve their anti-aging effects by neutralizing the damaging molecules generated by environmental insults. Several important nutritional and healthy aging supplements to consider incorporating for maintaining youth are explored further below.
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin found in many fruits and vegetables. Interestingly, vitamin C is also the most common antioxidant in the skin. This vitamin has been shown to be essential in collagen synthesis, which is why it is beneficial for healthy skin aging.3
Topical formulations of vitamin C are often recommended to be applied in the morning with your sunscreen, because the two together have a synergistic effect for sun protection. Nevertheless, vitamin C plays a role in protecting our skin from the sun’s UV rays when taken as a nutritional supplement as well. This healthy aging supplement exhibits a photoprotective effect by limiting UV induced skin inflammation when consumed, especially when taken simultaneously with vitamin E.4 Although this does not reverse signs of aging, this protection from the sun can prevent sun-induced damage that will age the skin.
While vitamin C has several benefits when ingested, it can be difficult for our digestive system to absorb the vitamin C we eat. To ensure you are reaping the benefits of this nutritional supplement for healthy aging, you may also want to consider using topical vitamin C formulations in addition to achieve the most anti-aging effects.
Prepared from the roots of Panax Ginseng, red ginseng in composed of ginsenosides with antioxidant, immune system boosting, and anti-aging benefits.1
This healthy aging nutritional supplement has been studied in clinical trials with impressive results. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the effects of consuming 3 g/day of a red-ginseng extract-containing herbal mixture in 82 women for 24 weeks, results showed a reduction in facial wrinkles. Not only was there visible reduction in facial wrinkles, but when tissue was collected from these participants, the researchers found that their skin showed increased collagen and elastic fiber synthesis.5
Collagen is the protein known to give skin its strength and is important for healthy aging. When collagen is damaged, it can cause wrinkles. To achieve the anti-aging benefits of this protein, collagen can be consumed as a nutritional supplement and has been the new craze on the market coming in various forms from marine to bovine sources.
The results from studies evaluating the healthy skin aging effects of collagen are promising, and have shown it as an effective anti-aging supplement. In a study including 69 women between the ages of 35-55 years, oral supplementation with 2.5 g or 5.0 g of collagen hydrosylate for four weeks effectively improved skin elasticity with a long-lasting effect.6 Furthermore, a study assessing the outcomes of ingesting 2.5 g of bioactive collagen peptides daily for 8 weeks reduced skin wrinkles and also increased dermal matrix synthesis, which helps maintain volume in the skin.7
Based on the results of these studies, it appears that collagen supplementation is not only helpful for healthy skin aging, but consumers can also appreciate the benefits in a short time period.
Carotenoids are a class of naturally occurring pigments, which are responsible for the red, yellow, and orange colors of many fruits and vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes. Different carotenoids have different properties and health benefits. Specifically, beta-carotene has pro-vitamin A activity, also known as retinol. Retinol is well-known for its anti-aging effects when applied topically, and when ingested these carotenoids can also help with healthy skin aging.
The anti-aging effects of carotenoids have been explored in several studies with remarkable results. One study found that women who consumed 30 mg/d of B-carotene for 90 days showed improved facial wrinkles, increased elasticity of the skin, and decreased sun-damage.8
Astaxanthin, another carotenoid found in marine organisms like lobsters and shrimp, has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. When combined with collagen (3 g/day), dietary astaxanthin (2 mg/d) was also found to improve facial elasticity and skin barrier integrity.1
Essential Fatty Acids
These fatty acids are essential because they are required for maintaining and regulating the function of the tissues in our bodies. Our bodies do not produce the essential fatty acids, and for this reason we must consume them through daily dietary intake. The two types, linoleic and linolenic acid, can be found in foods including fish, flaxseed, hemp oil, chia seeds, avocados, and various types of nuts.
For skin, the essential fatty acids are important in reducing moisture loss and skin inflammation. As a supplement with anti-aging properties, higher linolenic acid levels are associated with a lower likelihood of developing wrinkles, dry skin, and skin atrophy.9
By consuming essential fatty acids, you may not only prevent against various diseases such as heart disease, but also help your skin be healthy.
You Can Be Healthy Inside And Out
Overall, prevention against free radical formation from environmental exposures is the most effective strategy to prevent aging. The described nutritional supplements are just a few of the many found to have anti-aging properties. Most of the nutritional supplements that help maintain youth do so by scavenging free-radicals through their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Diet undoubtedly has an effect on the appearance of the skin, and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may in fact help combat the signs of aging. Many of these healthy aging supplements are also recommended for maintaining overall health. Using these nutritional supplements can help both the skin and body.
- Aging results from the cumulative damage of skin structures by both internal and external factors, with the latter mostly responsible for generating reactive oxygen species.
- To prevent aging, we can not only reduce our exposure to damaging external factors, but also implement supplements with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties to scavenge the toxic by-products.
- Nutritional supplements can help achieve healthy skin, and also provide anti-aging benefits.
- Cho S. The Role of Functional Foods in Cutaneous Anti-aging. J Lifestyle Med. 2014;4(1):8-16.
- Fisher GJ, Wang ZQ, Datta SC, Varani J, Kang S, Voorhees JJ. Pathophysiology of premature skin aging induced by ultraviolet light. The New England journal of medicine. 1997;337(20):1419-1428.
- Boyera N, Galey I, Bernard BA. Effect of vitamin C and its derivatives on collagen synthesis and cross-linking by normal human fibroblasts. Int J Cosmet Sci. 1998;20(3):151-158.
- Fuchs J, Kern H. Modulation of UV-light-induced skin inflammation by D-alpha-tocopherol and L-ascorbic acid: a clinical study using solar simulated radiation. Free Radic Biol Med. 1998;25(9):1006-1012.
- Cho S, Won CH, Lee DH, et al. Red ginseng root extract mixed with Torilus fructus and Corni fructus improves facial wrinkles and increases type I procollagen synthesis in human skin: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. J Med Food. 2009;12(6):1252-1259.
- Proksch E, Segger D, Degwert J, Schunck M, Zague V, Oesser S. Oral supplementation of specific collagen peptides has beneficial effects on human skin physiology: a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(1):47-55.
- Proksch E, Schunck M, Zague V, Segger D, Degwert J, Oesser S. Oral intake of specific bioactive collagen peptides reduces skin wrinkles and increases dermal matrix synthesis. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2014;27(3):113-119.
- Cho S, Lee DH, Won CH, et al. Differential effects of low-dose and high-dose beta-carotene supplementation on the signs of photoaging and type I procollagen gene expression in human skin in vivo. Dermatology. 2010;221(2):160-171.
- Cosgrove MC, Franco OH, Granger SP, Murray PG, Mayes AE. Dietary nutrient intakes and skin-aging appearance among middle-aged American women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;86(4):1225-1231.