Anti-aging is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry — that continues to increase sales steadily. Every year more and more people search for the fountain of youth, whether to feel better, look better, or both. With so many products on the market, deciding which supplements are the most beneficial and worth the money is difficult.
Aging is caused by intrinsic and extrinsic factors.
You cannot stop the intrinsic forces of aging, but you can control the extrinsic ones, such as UV damage from the sun.
Supplements alone cannot fix the damage caused by poor lifestyle choices, but they are a great adjunct.
The most popular and well-known supplements that can help skin aging are vitamins A, C, and E.
When choosing which supplements to try, ensure adequate science supports its claims to avoid wasting time and money.
What is aging?
Aging is a normal, natural process of deterioration and cell death in our bodies over time. It's unavoidable — every cell in our bodies will eventually succumb. After a time, our bodies can no longer repair themselves, and they wear out. However, there are things that we can do to slow down the aging process.
What causes aging?
Intrinsic and extrinsic factors cause aging. Intrinsic factors are unavoidable; they include such elements as age and genetics. These are normal, genetically-determined cellular changes that occur in our bodies. Extrinsic factors cause premature aging — but we have a certain amount of control over these. Extrinsic factors include factors such as skin-damaging UV rays, smoking, poor diet, lack of exercise, inadequate sleep, poor skin care practices, and alcohol consumption. For example, UV light releases free radicals that attack and destroy our collagen and elastin, causing wrinkles and sagging skin.
Supplements that help combat aging
Growing older can take a hit to the ego. Though everyone ages — most of us still want to hang on to what keeps us looking and feeling youthful. Health professionals continue to tout alcohol and tobacco avoidance, regular exercise, and a healthy, nutrient-rich diet to keep looking our best. Let's take a closer look at how what we eat keeps us looking younger and longer — well past middle age.
Vitamin C is the best-known and loved supplement for its ability to boost the immune system. Its potent antioxidants scavenge free radicals from the sun that destroy collagen and cause wrinkles. It also helps build new collagen and may help fade hyperpigmentation.
Like vitamin C, vitamin E boosts the immune system and helps promote collagen production to reduce wrinkles. It also regulates inflammation, which causes premature aging, and keeps the skin barrier functioning properly.
Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric. It conveys antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to protect against premature aging. Researchers also believe it preserves cognitive function.
Resveratrol is found in grapes and wine and possesses antioxidant properties that combat free radical damage and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, it protects the skin from UV damage and is being studied to see if it can prolong human life.
While zinc is best known for wound healing and boosting the immune system, it may also help protect the skin from UV damage. It also has anti-inflammatory properties to calm and soothe the skin, but more research is needed.
Coenzyme Q10 is best known for converting food into energy. However, it is also a potent antioxidant that protects skin from premature aging and may help protect the heart and brain.
Selenium is a potent antioxidant that protects the skin from free radical damage. It helps preserve tissue elasticity to prevent sagging, wrinkled skin. Researchers are also trying to determine if it delays the formation of skin cancers.
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is an important compound found in green tea. It protects the skin from sun damage and discoloration. It may even help prevent cancers and heart disease.
Nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN) is a derivative of vitamin B3. Its anti-inflammatory properties calm and brighten the skin. It also repairs DNA damage caused by the sun that leads to wrinkles and skin cancers. More research is needed as much data is a result of small human studies.
Collagen peptide use has been controversial. However, some research data shows that it may help reduce signs of aging, such as wrinkles, sagging skin, and dehydration, and may even strengthen nails.
This fern extract has been shown to delay sunburn. Though not an alternative to sunscreen, it helps protect skin from UV-induced premature aging. For best results, use it in conjunction with a good sunscreen.
This amino acid is found in green and black teas and some mushrooms. It helps relieve stress and protects from free radical damage. Researchers also believe that it may even protect against inflammation and liver damage.
Crocin is the yellow pigment found in crocus (saffron) and gardenia flowers. It helps reduce the signs of aging by protecting against UV damage and reducing inflammation. Research is also being conducted to determine its effects on diabetes and cancer.
Vitamin A helps improve cell turnover and repair UV damage to reduce the signs of aging. It is also potent antioxidant protection against free radical damage. Additionally, scientists believe it helps the eyes and heart and may even help prevent some cancers.
Biotin is one of the B vitamins that help strengthen hair and nails by helping the body produce keratin. It may also help some enzymes involved in maintaining the skin, but more research is needed.
Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids' anti-inflammatory properties reduce inflammation leading to premature aging. They can also help hydrate the skin and keep it plump and looking youthful. Additionally, they may help regulate oil production to help with acne breakouts.
How to find reputable supplements
When deciding which supplement to purchase, always look for third-party verification, e.g., internet review websites. You want to make sure the product has been tested and lives up to its marketing claims. This is very important because, unfortunately, the FDA does not approve supplements, so not all manufacturers adhere to quality standards.
Do supplements have side effects?
Supplements are not benign. You can take too much of a supplement and cause health problems. Some supplements do not mix with certain medical conditions or medications. It is always best to consult your doctor before starting any supplements to ensure their safety.
Supplements are a great adjunct for skin health, but they do not replace a healthy lifestyle or compensate for a poor one. Proper diet, exercise, plenty of sleep, and the avoidance of smoking, UV rays, and alcohol are essential for maintaining proper skin health. Always consult your doctor before starting supplements to ensure they are safe and right for you.