The skin is the largest organ of the body, and is significantly affected by the aging process. Estrogen receptors have been detected on the cellular components of the skin and lower levels of estrogen influence the skin-cell metabolims.Â Changes in the skin collagen leads to diminished elasticity and skin strength. There is a distinct reduction of collagen production after menopause. Changes in vascularity are found following menopause. Dermal blood flow decreases significantly in postmenopausal women.
Repair functions in skin are regulated by a group of chemicals called ‘cytokines’.Â Included in these are epidermal cell growth factor (ECGF), transforming growth factor (TGF), and angiogenesis factor. AF stimulates the rebuilding of the microvascular system within the skin. TGF and ECGF stimulate rapid cell proliferation for the replacement of dead or damaged cells.
Excessive exposure to UV rays causes oxidation of the collagen and elastin fibers in this skin.Â This, in turn causes ‘crosslinking’.Â Cross-linking causes the collagen in the skin to become tangled and stiffen.Â This results in sagging and loss of skin elasticity, and allow facial expressions to put deep lines and wrinkles in the skin.Â Some of this UV damage can be prevented by the use of sunscreens and sunblocks.Â Some of this damage can be reversed by the use of ‘peels’ – where the outer layer of the skin is removed by the use of mild acidic formulas, which removes the damaged layers and stimulates the production of a stronger, thicker layer of skin.
Free radicals are molecules created by oxidative chemical reactions within the body. These free radicals damage cellular DNA and cause mutations of the skin cells. Free radical damage can be prevented by the use of anti-oxidants, both internally and topically. Antioxidants attract and bind these free radical molecules, rendering them harmless.
Premature skin aging can be avoided by preventing excess exposure to sunlight and pollutants, as well as providing with skin with the nutrients it needs to repair itself.Â Provide your skin with the building blocks it needs by maintaining adequate consumption of the following nutrients:
NUTRITION FOR AGING SKIN
ZINC: Zinc is required for collagen production and elastin synthesis, as well as DNA repair. Zinc is required for DNA duplication, which is required for cell division. Zinc is required forÂ the production of certain proteins that remove damaged or mutated tissue as well as for superoxide dismutase, a power antioxidant.
COPPER: Copper helps to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, helps to thicken the dermis, increases vascularity and oxygenation and works to stimulate superoxide dismutase.
SULFUR: Sulfur is a component of the protein Keratin found in nails, hair and skin. Sulfur is essential for the production of collagen and it is required for the production of the connective tissues.
Vitamin A: The vitamin necessary for healthy skin. A serious lack or excess intake can cause dry, rough skin, among other problems. Ascorbyl palmitate applied on the skin decreased the level of formation of free radicals*.
Vitamin C: Known for its antioxidant properties. Photoprotective properties of topically applied vitamin C have also been demonstrated, indicating its use in the prevention and treatment of skin aging. Topical applications of 5% vitamin C cream is an effective treatment, clinically shown to improve photodamaged skin.**
Vitamin D:Â Vitamin D has been shown to reverse skin damage, increase wound healing. Vitamin D is produced in the body in response to sunlight, and has been shown to have a beneficial affect on skin repair and hair growth.Â Vitamin D rarely requires supplementation, and 15 minutes of daily low-sun exposure should stimulate adequate production of this hormone-like vitamin.***
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a power antioxidant.Â Experiments show that that it may protect against the degredation of collagen, and prevent skin damage by environmental insult and aging.***
CoQ10 (Ubiquinone): Internal and topical application of CoQ10 has a beneficial effect of preventing photoaging. CoQ10 penetrates into the viable layers of the epidermis and reduces the level of oxidation. Reduction in wrinkle depth following CoQ10 application has also been shown in clinical trials. CoQ10 prevents oxidative DNA damage and suppresses the degredation of collagen.****
*Skin protection against ultraviolet induced free radicals with ascorbyl palmitate in microemulsions. Jurkovic P, Sentjurc M, Gasperlin M, Kristl J, Pecar S. Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia.
**Topical ascorbic acid on photoaged skin. Clinical, topographical and ultrastructural evaluation: double-blind study vs. placebo. Humbert PG, Haftek M, Creidi P, Lapiere C, Nusgens B, Richard A, Schmitt D, Rougier A, Zahouani H. Department of Dermatology, Hospital Saint Jacques, University of Franche-Comte, Besancon, France.
***Vitamin D enhances mitogenesis mediated by keratinocyte growth factor receptor in keratinocytes. Gamady A, Koren R, Ron D, Liberman UA, Ravid A. The Basil and Gerald Felsenstein Medical Research Center, Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Petah-Tikva, Israel.
***Age-dependent increase of collagenase expression can be reduced by alpha-tocopherol via protein kinase C inhibition. Ricciarelli R, Maroni P, Ozer N, Zingg JM, Azzi A.Institut fur Biochemie und Molekularbiologie, Universitat Bern, Switzerland.
****Coenzyme Q10, a cutaneous antioxidant and energizer. Hoppe U, Bergemann J, Diembeck W, Ennen J, Gohla S, Harris I, Jacob J, Kielholz J, Mei W, Pollet D, Schachtschabel D, Sauermann G, Schreiner V, Stab F, Steckel F.Paul Gerson Unna Research Center, Beiersdorf AG, Hamburg, Germany