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 metabolism. 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'. Included in these are epidermal cell growth factor (ECGF), transforming growth factor (TGF), and angiogenesis factor (AF). AF stimulates the rebuilding of the microvascular system within the skin. TGF and ECGF stimulate rapid cell growth for the replacement of dead or damaged cells.
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 antioxidants, both internally and topically. Antioxidants attract and bind these free radical molecules, rendering them harmless. Examples of topical antioxidants include vitamins A (retinol), C & E, resveratrol, selenium, and green tea extract.
Premature skin aging can be avoided by preventing excess exposure to sunlight and pollutants, as well as providing skin with the nutrients it needs to repair itself. Provide your skin with the building blocks it needs by maintaining adequate consumption of major antioxidant nutraceuticals.
Nutrition for Aging Skin:
ZINC: Zinc is required for collagen production and elastin synthesis, as well as DNA repair. Zinc is required for the production of certain proteins that remove damaged or mutated tissue as well as for superoxide dismutase, a powerful antioxidant. Great dietary sources of zinc include mushrooms, oysters, lean sources of meat, dairy, green veggies, nuts, & dark chocolate.
COPPER: Copper helps to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin, helps to thicken the dermis, and increases vascularity and oxygenation. Dietary sources include beef, oysters, unsweetened chocolate, potatoes, mushrooms, nuts, & seeds.
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. Dietary sources include meat, eggs, seafood, allium veggies (e.g. garlic, leeks, onions, scallions, shallots), cruciferous veggies (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, radishes), and whole grains.
Vitamin A: Also known as retinol. A serious lack or excess intake can cause dry, rough skin, among other problems. Good sources come from dairy, eggs, green leafy veggies, and oily fish.
Vitamin C: Known for its antioxidant with photoprotective properties when topically applied. Dietary sources, while not directly linked to photoprotection are potent antioxidants fighting inflammation and oxidative stress. Sources include citrus fruit, peppers, berries, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and potatoes.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D has been shown to reverse skin damage and increase wound healing. While there are a few dietary sources (oily fish, red meat, egg yolks), Vitamin D is primarily produced in the body in response to sunlight, and has been shown to have a beneficial effect on skin repair and hair growth. Those residing in the northern hemisphere often need Vitamin D supplementation.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. Experiments show that it may protect against the degradation 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 top layers of the skin 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 degradation of collagen. Dietary sources include oily fish, organ meats, and whole grains.
Lycopene: A carotenoid readily found in tomato paste, watermelon, pink grapefruit, mangos, sweet red peppers, & asparagus. It helps protect the skin against photo (sun) damage and environmental pollutants.
Lutein: A carotenoid found in green leafy vegetables, egg yolks, corn, and durum wheat, that protects the fibroblasts - from which collagen is synthesized, structural framework for tissues is produced, and plays a role in wound healing.
Why Is Healthy Skin Important?
Cindy is an experienced RN(NP) residing in Southern Manitoba, Canada, with a passion to support her patients looking and feeling their best at every age. This blog is to support patients in gaining knowledge about skincare, medical aesthetics procedures, and health & wellness practices. It is her goal to share the knowledge she gains from continuous reading of research, and regular continuing professional development sessions. Pursuit of personal and professional growth is paramount to Cindy and she loves to share this learning with her patients.