Condition - Skin Health - get the glow from within
With an increasing focus on anti-ageing and the rising incidence of chronic skin conditions, skin health is more important than ever before. What’s more, many age- and disease-related changes in the skin can be exacerbated
by nutrient deficiencies, free-radical exposure and cold weather, so boosting nutrient levels and supporting antioxidant mechanisms is an excellent way to keep your skin healthy and looking its best as autumn approaches.
Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids provide the building blocks of healthy skin and when consumed in the correct ratio, can help modulate the inflammatory response. This is particularly relevant for skin conditions such as acne and eczema. In fact, the increasing prevalence of eczema has been linked to an imbalance in our consumption of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Consequently, clinical trials using both fish oil and hemp seed oil have been shown to help reduce eczema symptoms.
A good supply of sulphur is vital for making two important proteins in the skin:
Dermatan sulphate – important for skin structure
Keratin – a protein which helps waterproof the skin
As a result, sulphur has been used by people with a variety of skin problems, including acne, dandruff and rashes. In folk medicine, sulphur was traditionally used to aid wound healing and sulphur baths have long been employed to help people with psoriasis.
MSM is known as the beauty nutrient, as it plays an important role in keratin and collagen production, and can be taken as a supplement or applied topically as part of a skin cream. In fact, a recent study found that an MSM and milk thistle cream helped to keep skin smooth and feeling healthy in people with acne rosacea.
The skin contains about 20% of the zinc in the body and, while the exact details of the role of zinc in the skin are still being investigated, we do know zinc has potent antioxidant actions that help to protect against free radicals and inflammation. Zinc has also been shown to assist wound healing, by encouraging the clean-up process during wound repair and aiding the enzymes that lay down new collagen. In addition, zinc deficiency has been shown to make both eczema and acne symptoms worse.
The skin has a unique relationship with vitamin D, as it is the site of both vitamin D synthesis and action. Vitamin D helps to regulate the growth of skin cells and the production of the oily skin secretion, sebum. From a free-radical protection point of view, vitamin D helps protect skin cells from oxidative damage and plays a role in regulating the skin’s immune responses. These functions are particularly important in acne, eczema and psoriasis.
As a consequence of modern life, skin is constantly exposed to high levels of oxidative stress, which can accelerate signs of ageing and exacerbate skin disorder symptoms. Vitamin E is the predominant antioxidant in human skin. It helps to protect skin cells against free-radical damage, where it works in combination with vitamin C. Some of the vitamin E is delivered to the skin surface via the oil glands. Since the activity of these glands decreases with age, older skin may also benefit from topical applications containing vitamin E, to boost free radical defences. Interestingly, these two vitamins work synergistically when taken together and help reduce the negative effects of sun exposure, such as redness.
In a number of studies, astaxanthin, a powerful carotenoid antioxidant, has been shown to mop up free radicals and help protect the collagen fibres from age-accelerating damage. It has also been shown to increase moisture and elasticity in the skin, as well as reducing excess sebum production and skin inflammation, making an excellent choice for all-round skin health.
So, by investing in a good skin formula and antioxidant complex, alongside balancing your intake of essential fats, you can keep your skin looking radiant all year round.