Beauty Start From Within: The Healthy Skin Supplement Guide
When we think of skin aging we often focus on the external factors such as exposure to the sun’s rays, toxic chemicals, and pollutants. This is what is known as extrinsic aging and there are a multitude of products such as sunscreens, skin creams, machine-based therapies, chemical peels and injections all targeted at extrinsic aging.
There is another aspect to skin aging also known as intrinsic aging and is impacted by our genetics. Although features such as eye colors, hair color, skin color and your height are determined by genetics, scientists have discovered that the interaction of our genes with our environment based on our lifestyle choices (diet, sleep, exercise and nutrition) can influence the expression of these genes. This means that we can influence how well or poorly our skin ages by the choices we make.
Our skin health is impacted by what we put into our bodies. One of the latest areas of discovery and research is in the connection between our gut health and skin health. However, this idea isn’t new as in the 1930s there were two medical doctors who postulated this connection. Since then we have discovered similarities between the gut and skin as they are both involved in the first line defense against the environment. These barriers are essential in keeping our immune system regulated and some of the nutrients that are being researched that benefit gut health also benefit skin health.
While a whole food diet is important in maintaining overall health, new research has shown that there are specific supplements that can improve skin tone, texture and firmness.
Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and can help prevent UV-induced skin damage. It is also essential in producing collagen. Deficiency can result in rough, dry skin and abnormal hair growth as well as poor wound healing and wrinkles.
A study of 56 patients taking vitamin A, C, E and procyanidins over 8 weeks proved the safety and effectiveness of this combined supplement for uneven and mottled skin pigmentation.
This is a powerful antioxidant made up of 3 amino acids glycine, glutamine and cysteine. It depends on an enzyme known as glutathione peroxidase, which is dependent on the mineral selenium. Low levels of glutathione enzyme function is found in people suffering from vitiligo which is a disorder leading to a loss of skin pigmentation.
A study of 60 individuals taking 500mg per day of glutathione for 4 weeks improved skin pigmentation.
It is interesting to note that glutathione is also important for normal gut function as it protects the lining of the gut and prevents bacterial toxins from entering the bloodstream.
Polypodium leucotomos extract (PLE)
Also known as “calaguala”, PLE is a naturally derived compound from a native South American fern. Studies show that it protects the skin against UV radiation by mopping up free radicals. It has been shown to help individuals with photosensitivity such as a condition known as polymorphous light eruption. It reduces the signs of skin aging in people who are receiving PUVA treatments which often leads to premature aging and an increased risk of skin cancer. However, it should not be used on its own for sun protection. There are some possible minor side effects of bloating and headaches. Caution is advised in people taking medication for their heart or blood pressure. It should be avoided in under 18 year olds as there is no clinical data in this age group.
Type 1 collagen is the most abundant in skin, tendons and bone tissues. A review of studies with 805 patients showed benefits ranging from improvement in skin hydration, elasticity, pressure ulcers and cellulite. It concluded that oral collagen is generally safe with no adverse effects and both short and long term use show promise for wound healing and skin aging.
Consuming collagen does not lead to deposition into the skin. However, the amino acids proline and glycine found in collagen supplements may help increase skin collagen production. It is important to consume it with vitamin C to enhance absorption or look for a product containing the hydrolysed form.
Contact us here to learn more about our approach to skin health and healthy aging.
Dr Laurena Law
Dr Laurena Law is a medical doctor from both Australia and Hong Kong. A conventional doctor by training, Dr. Law utilises an integrative medicine approach to managing chronic diseases. Dr Laurena integrates the best of both evidence-based approaches in functional medicine and traditional Western medical practices using nutrition, diet, exercise, laboratory testing, supplements, detoxification programs and stress management techniques personalized to the individual. She believes in promoting health that goes beyond just the absence of disease.
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