Antioxidants can help protect your skin against free-radical damage caused by the sun, pollution, and smoke. And studies have shown that natural skin care products with antioxidants work best, since antioxidants don't perform as well when mixed with synthetics. Here are some of the most effective antioxidants to look for on labels:
Alpha-Lipoic Acid is both fat- and water-soluble, so it easily penetrates skin-cell membranes to reduce wrinkles and dull skin.
Açai contains anthocyanins and phyto-sterols that act as astringents, keeping the skin taut, which means fewer wrinkles.
Astaxanthin creates a natural barrier against sunlight and other environmental stressors, and increases skin elasticity and moisture retention.
CoQ10 is naturally produced by the body as its defense against free radicals. However, as we age, the body produces less and less CoQ10, leaving the cells less protected. CoQ10 is used in many eye products due
to its ability to target crow's feet.
Coffee berry contains high levels of polyphenols, which absorb free radicals and also help fight skin inflammation.
Grape-seed extract contains bioflavonoids that strengthen the capillaries, which carry oxygen to the skin, improving its tone and texture. And it enhances vitamins A and C, aiding in the reduction of wrinkles.
Vitamin A promotes collagen production, creating plumper skin. It also helps reduce wrinkles and fine lines.
Vitamin C stimulates production of collagen and elastin, while reducing the appearance of lines, discoloration, and scars.
Vitamin E promotes healing and boosts collagen production, making skin more smooth and supple. Nut extracts are a rich source of vitamin E in skin products.
Astaxanthin: Beauty from Tip to Toe
By Vera Tweed
Imagine the amount of energy wild salmon use to swim upstream to spawn, fighting against many miles of strong currents, leaping tall waterfalls in a single bound. If you've ever witnessed a salmon run, you have to admit, human superheroes could
learn a thing or two.
What if you could harness some of that amazing power to keep your skin beautiful? In fact, you can, with a very strong antioxidant-astaxanthin-that helps the salmon meet the tremendous demands of its physically challenging lifestyle.
Astaxanthin (pronounced "asta-ZAN-thin") comes from algae that is an important food source for salmon-and that gives the fish its pink color. In supplements, the nutrient is extracted from the algae in a form the human body can utilize.
In skin, free radicals promote lines and wrinkles and destroy the collagen that gives young skin its elasticity. When antioxidants neutralize free radicals, they protect against damage and may also help repair it. As antioxidants go, astaxanthin is very powerful
."When it's matched up to other antioxidants like vitamin E or vitamin C, astaxanthin turns out to be somewhere between 60 and 100 times more potent in terms of its ability to fight free radicals," says Nicholas Perricone, MD, board certified dermatologist, researcher, anti-aging expert, and author of 11 books, most recently Forever Young: Introducing the Metabolic Diet.
In addition to studying all the scientific literature on astaxanthin for more than 12 years, Perricone has personally carried out research with the supplement. Reasons why it is so powerful, he says, include:
- The unique structure of astaxanthin enables it to work in multiple ways in every cell. "It intersperses into the cell membrane and all parts of the cell, giving protection, so therefore it can be at the right place to protect the cells from free radicals," says Perricone.
- It takes much less than a split second for a free radical to trigger inflammation, but that inflammation continues for hours or days. Astaxanthin not only neutralizes free radicals but it also stops the inflammatory process.
Stopping Wrinkles from Within
In his experience and research, Perricone has found that fine lines and wrinkles are visibly reduced, and the overall appearance of skin improves after taking astaxanthin for 12-16 weeks. "I've not seen many supplements that can do that," he says.
Another study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology compared the ability of astaxanthin and placebo supplements to protect skin against sun damage. Researchers found that after three months of supplementation, astaxanthin, but not the placebo, visibly reduced fine lines and improved the appearance of skin exposed to sun. And ultrasound measurements showed a 78-percent increase in skin density among those taking astaxanthin. There were no side effects. Other studies report similar findings.
How much do you need? Take 3-9 mg of an astaxanthin supplement daily. The antioxidant is also found in skin creams. For optimum benefits, use topical products in conjunction with an oral astaxanthin supplement. A serving of wild salmon, between 4 and 6 ounces, contains approximately 4-5 mg of astaxanthin.
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