Radiant and vibrant hair, skin, and nails have long been associated with good health. While most people try and improve the appearance of these tissues from the outside, the real secret to healthy skin, beautiful hair, and strong nails comes from within. And it starts with good nutrition and key dietary supplements.
A deficiency of any essential nutrient, including vitamins, minerals, fat, or protein, can cause impaired manufacture of new skin cells. A healthy diet is therefore crucial for hair, skin, and nail health and overall appearance. Taking key supplements is equally as important. Start with a high-potency multivitamin/mineral formula and a pharmaceutical-grade fish oil—these two supplements offer a balance of essential beauty nutrients for people of all ages.
Why does skin wrinkle? The main culprit is free radical damage from external (sun, pollution) and internal (cigarette smoke, poor diet) causes. Over time, the amount of fat stored in the layers just below the skin also diminishes, causing the skin to sag. And as we age, the collagen in skin loses its ability to hold its shape. We can blame this on decreased hyaluronic acid production: By age 70, most people will have lost approximately 80 percent of the hyaluronic acid they had at 40. As a result, the collagen fibers become fewer and farther between. As the network of collagen and hyaluronic acid shrinks, the skin becomes thinner and less elastic. Glands that secret natural oils also wither away, causing skin to become dry and itchy.
To prevent wrinkles from forming, be sure to eat a diet rich in antioxidants and do your best to avoid free radical exposure. There’s also more you can do: Consider taking the following innovative supplements to help restore collagen, elastin, and hyaluronic acid.
Olive Fruit Extract and Green Tea
An interesting antioxidant for skin health is olive fruit extract. Population-based studies have shown a negative correlation between the consumption of olives and wrinkle formation. In other words, a higher intake of olives can mean fewer wrinkles. Olive fruit (but not the leaves) contains verbascoside, a polyphenol molecule that has shown exceptional antioxidant effects specific to skin health. In studies conducted by Japanese and Italian researchers, olive fruit extract standardized to contain 10 percent polyphenols (Opextan) was shown both to prevent free radical—mediated degeneration of the skin—a process that can lead to wrinkle formation—and to protect the skin from other signs of damage.
The same can be said for green tea extract and its chief polyphenol epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). This healthy elixir also has an ability to protect against free radical damage to the skin, particularly damage caused by ultraviolet radiation.
How much do you need? The dosage of olive fruit extract (or Opextan) is 60 to 120 mg daily. The dosage for green tea extract is based on polyphenol levels, with a typical dosage of 150 to 300 mg daily.
A major component of skin, hyaluronic acid is heavily involved in promoting and enhancing the skin’s collagen matrix (or structure). When skin becomes damaged by free radicals, it gets inflamed and the skin cells start producing less and less hyaluronic acid. This leads to wrinkle formation. And as mentioned earlier, your skin’s hyaluronic acid content also naturally decreases with age.
Hyaluronic acid injections are used in medical spas to fill in wrinkles. But taking hyaluronic acid supplements may actually be a more effective solution. For one thing, hyaluronic acid supplements may have a longer-lasting effect than injections. Plus: hyaluronic acid supplements are more natural, and offer a less invasive way to deliver this important compound into the skin.
Clinical studies have shown that hyaluronic supplements have the ability to increase the skin’s moisture content, resulting in a dramatic improvement the skin’s appearance among patients with dry and rough skin.
How much do you need? The dosage used in the clinical trials was 120 mg daily. Look for supplements that offer “highly bioavailable” hyaluronic acid.
Silicon is an essential element needed for the normal growth and development of skin, hair, and nails—which require healthy collagen formation. Studies show that BioSil, a highly bioavailable and stabilized form of silicon, increases levels of hydroxyproline, an amino acid involved in collagen and elastin production.
Scientists from the University of Brussels in Belgium conducted a 20-week double-blind study involving 50 women (ages 40 to 65) with signs of sun damage and premature aging. Half received 10 mg of BioSil and the other half a placebo. The BioSil group experienced a 30 percent improvement in shallow, fine lines, a 55 percent increase in skin elasticity, and a significant reduction in brittle nails and hair.
How much do you need? A typical dosage of silicon is 5 mg twice daily.
Bestselling health author and Better Nutrition columnist Michael T. Murray, ND, shares his personal health secrets
BN: You’re a vibrant looking 53-year-old. To what do you attribute your youthful looks?
Murray: I think it’s the result of everything that I’ve done consistently for my entire adult life—my diet, attitude, lifestyle, and supplement program for the past 25 years, When you study what causes people to age prematurely, you start to see how everything is connected and why it’s so important to address every facet.
BN: What do you think are some of the most important steps you have taken to slow down the aging process?
Murray: About eight years ago, I started using PGX supplements—a special dietary fiber matrix. A key aspect of fighting the effects of aging is to enhance your body’s sensitivity to insulin and stabilize your blood sugar levels within a narrow range. Nothing does that better than PGX. I credit it for the fact that my lean muscle mass and body fat percentage in my late 40s and 50s are better than any time in my adult life.
BN: What about other supplements?
Murray: In addition to PGX, I take a high-potency multivitamin/multimineral, a “green foods drink,” and a pharmaceutical-grade fish oil, as well as a variety of specialty antioxidants like CoQ10, alpha-lipoic acid, and flavonoid-rich extracts. If you look at cultures where long lives are common, a high intake of flavonoids is one of the common features. For more specific information on what I take and recommend to slow the aging process, visit my website at doctormurray.com.
Bluebonnet herbals egcg green tea Leaf extract combines green tea leaf extract with whole raw green tea leaf powder for the highest concentration of EGCG. One vegetarian capsule is all you need daily to reap the antioxidant benefits of green tea.
Natural Factors Biosil ch-OSA Advanced Collagen Generator is the same product used in the above-mentioned clinical research. Highly bioavailable forms of silicon and choline comprise this patent-pending formula. The dosage is two capsules daily.
Nature’s way hydraplenish features a highly bioavailable form of hyaluronic acid and a patented form of collagen known as BioCell Collagen II. You can take two to four capsules daily. In addition to skin benefits, Hydraplenish also helps lubricate and cushion joints naturally.
Michael T. Murray, ND, is the author of more than 30 books on natural health, including The Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, Third Edition. He is regarded as one of the world's top authorities on natural medicine, and is a sought-after lecturer and educator. Visit him online at doctormurray.com.