Nutrition and Skin: Lessons for Anti-Aging, Beauty and Healthy Skin

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Item Added: Nutrition and Skin. Research into dietary supplements and acne has shown mixed results overall. There's some evidence that certain anti-inflammatory herbs and spices may be beneficial, but ideal dosages have yet to be determined.

Probiotics have shown promise in acne treatment, but specific microbial strains and dosages haven't been identified. Skin Dryness and Dullness Skin dryness is related to poor hydration in the cells, which causes cells to contract. True dehydration can lead to flaky, dry, dull-looking skin, but drinking more water doesn't always help improve dry skin.

Other factors that may lead to dry skin include dry, winter weather; the use of certain soaps; and excessive sun exposure. However, sometimes skin remains dry even without these environmental factors at play due to eczema or other types of chronic dry skin conditions. Their underlying causes must first be treated, but diet can help improve them. In order for skin cells to stay hydrated, the cells need to contain the proper types of fatty acids to help hold in water.

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The connection between skin moisture and dietary fats was first described in the s, when unsaturated fats were excluded from the diets of rats. Researchers Burr and Burr found that rats developed a type of scaly dermatitis when the essential fatty acids, specifically linolenic and linoleic acid, were eliminated from their diet. To date, much of the research on skin dryness and diet has been conducted on subjects with atopic eczema, a skin condition that causes inflammation, flaky skin, and redness.

Certain polyunsaturated fats seem to play the biggest role helping skin retain moisture. The main roles of polyunsaturated fatty acids PUFAs in the skin are to maintain fluidity and flexibility in the cell walls as well as help with the synthesis of intercellular lipids that help with hydration. Most diets are adequate in PUFAs; therefore, it's believed that those with deficiencies in linoleic acid metabolism are most at risk of developing eczema.

Both have had positive results in helping improve skin dryness. Omega-3 fatty acids, specifically EPA and DHA, have been shown to help reduce overall itching and scaling of the skin. In one study, subjects with dermatitis, or flaky skin, were given 1. GLA, found in evening primrose oil, borage seed oil, and black currant seed oil, is also an anti-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acid. GLA is believed to modulate the inflammatory response by working as a precursor to eicosanoids and prostaglandins.

Other nutrients also have been identified in helping maintain skin hydration levels. A study by Boelsma and colleagues identified several dietary factors correlated with sebum production, low epidermal pH levels, and skin hydration.

Lessons for Anti-Aging, Beauty and Healthy Skin

Researchers found an inverse association between serum vitamin A levels and sebum content, as vitamin A has been known to reduce the activity of the sebaceous cells. The same study found that high levels of serum B-cryptoxanthin, a carotenoid, were correlated with increased skin hydration, but only in men. The primary limitation of this study was that serum nutrient levels were measured, instead of directly measuring nutrient levels from the skin itself.

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CPE Monthly: Beauty and Nutrition - Today's Dietitian Magazine

Aging Biological attractiveness is based on youthful appearance of skin; therefore, those who have a desire to appear younger can do so by reducing the aged appearance of the skin. Aging of the skin can be exacerbated by a variety of factors including environmental pollutants, smoking, diet, and stress.

There are several foods that have been found to be possibly protective against skin damage that may lead to wrinkles. A study followed subjects of various ethnicities living in different parts of the world to determine the connection between diet and sun damage. It was found that people with a diet high in vegetables, legumes, olive oil, and fish had a lower risk of sun damage.

Foods that increased wrinkling from the sun's rays included butter, margarine, milk products, meat, carbohydrates, and sugar. A larger study analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to examine the connection between the appearance of the skin and diet.


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This study focused specifically on skin wrinkling, senile dryness, and skin thinning. The data revealed that women older than 40 with lower intakes of protein, dietary cholesterol, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C had a more wrinkled appearance. Women with drier skin, which can lead to increased wrinkling, also had lower intakes of vitamin C and linoleic acid.

The strongest correlation was found between vitamin C intake and wrinkled skin, even when confounding variables were controlled for.

Discovering the link between nutrition and skin aging

This may be due to the antioxidant effects of vitamin C. Vitamin C plays a role in collagen formation and skin regeneration, and has been found to be photoprotective. However, at this time, it's unclear whether it's the vitamin C itself that's protective or if it's a diet high in foods that contain vitamin C, as well as other antioxidants and nutrients, such as fruits and vegetables. Topical Antioxidants Foods and nutrients with antioxidant properties may play an important role in the prevention of aging due to their ability to reverse damage caused by free radicals.

Free radicals are formed via normal human metabolism, ultraviolet exposure, and certain lifestyle factors such as alcohol consumption and smoking. These molecules cause damage to DNA and cell membranes. Due to their importance in aging, foods and nutrients with antioxidant properties have been used both topically and orally to help prevent wrinkling and the appearance of aging.


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  8. Vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant, is found in foods such as vegetable oils, seeds, and meat. The most active form of vitamin E in terms of aging and wrinkle prevention is A-tocopherol, which also has been shown to have the highest antioxidant activity of all the tocopherols. In animal studies, the application of A-tocopherol has been shown to have a photoprotective effect against sunburn when applied directly to the skin.

    Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant found in various fruits and vegetables, may help fight wrinkles due to its role in collagen formation. Vitamin C has been studied extensively and found to protect against sun damage by helping reduce sunburn after exposure to both UVA and UVB radiation when applied topically.

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    As a result, it has been added to multiple sunscreen and after-sun products to help scavenge free radicals and heal skin that has been damaged from sun exposure. When applied topically in combination, vitamins E and C may create a synergistic effect in helping protect the skin from sun damage. During those four days, the pig skin received various levels of radiation and researchers measured the antioxidant protection factor, number of sunburn cells, and degree of redness.

    Those in the group that received the combination of vitamin E and vitamin C were four times more protected against sun damage than were those in the other groups. Dietary Supplements Dietary supplements also may help with preventing or reducing the appearance of wrinkles.

    Vitamins E and C can be used orally in addition to topically to help prevent wrinkles and sun damage. In a study, 40 subjects were given 2 g of A-tocopherol and 3 g of vitamin C per day. Subjects found that the combination of these two vitamins had a pronounced synergistic and photoprotective effect.

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    Researchers believe these effects are related to the antioxidant activity of vitamins C and E. Loss of skin elasticity is caused by a general decrease of collagen in the skin and can be a natural part of the aging process. Collagen's main role is to maintain skin integrity and firmness and promote wound healing. One study found that taking oral collagen supplements may help maintain skin elasticity. Women between the ages of 35 and 55 were given 2. A study used curcumin to help with cutaneous wound healing in rats. The curcumin was found to increase collagen synthesis and cell growth in the wounded areas.

    The rats were able to heal much faster than those who didn't receive the curcumin treatment. There isn't sufficient evidence to recommend a specific protocol of dietary supplements for antiaging or wrinkle prevention. Adding certain foods with active ingredients to the diet may be a safe and healthful way to help prevent photoaging and wrinkles.

    For example, foods high in vitamin C do seem to be protective against sun damage and wrinkling, but it's unclear whether it's the vitamin C itself found in the food or another factor in vitamin C-rich foods that's protective. Foods high in vitamin C, such as some fruits and vegetables, have many other health benefits in addition to their potential to reduce wrinkles.

    Based on the review of the research, foods high in antioxidants, whether vitamin C or E or curcumin seem to have a positive effect on protecting the skin from sun damage and wrinkles. As more is discovered about these nutrients and their therapeutic properties, researchers will be able to determine more precisely how consumers can use them to remain looking youthful and vibrant.

    Both hair and nails are made from a protein called keratin.

    Food for Healthy Skin

    Therefore, any factor that affects hair usually will also affect nails. The cause of hair loss or brittle nails isn't always clear, but it may be related to anemia, fungal infections, and possibly a deficiency in L-lysine or other amino acids. For premenopausal women, iron deficiency is common because of monthly menstrual blood loss and in pregnancy. It's less common for males and postmenopausal females to have iron deficiency. Some studies have indicated that women with low ferritin levels tend to have hair loss. However, the evidence is insufficient to recommend supplementation across the board.

    Vitamin D deficiency also may be linked to hair loss. Several tissues in the body, including the skin and hair, use vitamin D for optimal functioning. A animal study used genetically modified mice that lacked a specific receptor site for vitamin D. This inability to absorb vitamin D led to complete hair loss and a condition similar to alopecia in humans by 8 months of age.

    This study was only observational; therefore, further research is needed to determine the exact connection between vitamin D status and hair loss. Hair regrowth after loss has been shown to be successful via supplementation with omega-3 and -6 fats and certain antioxidants. A study evaluated the effect of a dietary supplement of omega-3 and -6 fats, from black currant seed oil and fish, in combination with certain antioxidants on hair loss and regrowth in female subjects.

    After six months, subjects reported a significant increase in hair regrowth and hair diameter.


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    Brittle, easily cracked nails may have many causes. Excessive contact with chemicals, aging, and certain medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism, all may influence the appearance of nails. There are a few nutritional factors that may have an influence on the strength of nails.