Choosing antioxidants to supplement your regular skin routine is an approach that has been validated scientifically. A study by French scientists found that woman taking vitamin C, vitamin E, and betacarotene had 23% fewer new wrinkles, and a reduction in existing wrinkles of 8%. Antioxidants stop the breakdown of collagen and elastin by free radicals.
Foods with the highest levels of antioxidants, as measured by the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbence capacity), listed from the highest: prunes, raisins, blueberries, kale, cranberries, spinach, raspberries, brussel sprouts, plums and broccoli.
Vitamin A is another important nutrient for the skin. A deficiency in vitamin A will reduce the effectiveness of skin treatments. Vitamin A is needed for the normal growth and renewal of skin cells. Our skin cells are constantly replacing each other, and new ones are pushed up to the surface as the old ones slough off. Not only is vitamin A an antioxidant, but it also nourishes the fat layer underneath the skin. Vitamin A keeps skin supple, and may prevent skin damage.
Symptoms of vitamin A deficiency include dry and rough skin, localized breakouts, fragile skin, wrinkle prone skin, poor skin texture, and splitting nails.
One thing to remember with taking vitamin A supplements is not to exceed the recommended daily dose, as it can build up in your body if taken in excess. Taking 10000 IU per day is fine.
Vitamin C is another important beauty supplement. Not only does it help in skin repair by building collagen, but lower levels of vitamin C in the skin are associated with aging and UV damage. Taking 500mg to 2000mg per day, in divided doses, is recommended.
An excellent antioxidant supplement to take is alpha lipoic acid (ALA), especially if you’re taking the other antioxidant vitamins C and E, and coenzyme Q10. Alpha lipoic acid is not only an antioxidant in its own right, but it has the capacity to recycle these other antioxidants. Alpha lipoic acid is also an anti inflammatory agent, and improves insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is associated with obesity and heart disease. ALA increases the rate at which glucose is removed from the bloodstream, and helps the body detoxify metals that have accumulated. Alpha lipoic acid also prevents the cross linking of fibers, which leads to aging and the development of wrinkles.
Alpha lipoic acid is produced by the body, but only in small amounts. It is used by the cells in their production of cellular energy, and we only benefit from its antioxidant effects if the amount of ALA in our bodies is greater than that which our cells need for normal functioning. And, unfortunately, the levels of ALA in our body decline as we age.
One advantage of alpha lipoic acid is that it is both fat and water soluble. This means it can work in all parts of our body, making it very versatile. Most antioxidants are either fat or water soluble, but not both. For example, vitamin A is fat soluble, and vitamin C is water soluble.
Taking about 50 to 100mg of alpha lipoic acid supplements a day has been suggested, though this supplement has not been tested on pregnant or breast feeding women.
References: Nature and Health, April/May 2006