Caring for your Skin & Health
The role of your skin
The skin is the largest organ of the body, serving as a protective shield against light, heat, injury, and infection. The skin is involved in the regulation of body temperature, water, and lipid stores. Structure, texture, thickness, density, hydration, color, and shielding properties of the skin change with age and vary depending on endogenous and exogenous factors. The nutritional status of the organism affects skin condition (Boelsma et al., 2003).
The skin is the interface of an organism with its environment. Therefore, the basic role of the skin is the protection of the organism against the entrance of external factors (e.g. climatic variation, physical, chemical and bacteriological attack) and against the loss of substances from the internal environment (e.g. water).
Also important is the aspect that it is the visible covering of the body. The skin is largely what we visually perceive of others and this type of information is often the basis for judgments concerning a whole series of related criteria (pleasant or unpleasant, young or old, etc.).
In addition to the visual aspects of encounters between individuals, contact can also be established by touch, during which the skin plays a vital role. These important roles played by skin appearance in social relationships have been acknowledged, scientifically described and analyzed. Improvement of appearance of the skin, as well as of personal perception of its own skin can be achieved with both topical and systemic skin products (Proksch et al., 2008).
UV & IRA radiation damage your skin
Overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation (UVR) from the sun plays an important role in the development of skin cancers and skin aging. Over the past decade, there has been an increasing understanding on the mechanism by which UVA damages the skin. This awareness is reflected in the development of newer sunscreen formulations with protection extending to the long range of UVA wavelengths. This insight, combined with the knowledge that UVA induces free radicals, has led to a renewed research focus on the detrimental role of free radicals on skin health. Although the body has an innate antioxidant (AOx) defense system to neutralize these radicals generated from both exogenous and endogenous sources, this AOx reservoir can be quickly depleted. Hence, topical supplementation of AOxs, at least in theory, holds the promise of providing extra benefit to the skin, especially under oxidative stress from excessive amounts of UVA exposure (Shroeter et al., 2010).
Aging of the skin is accentuated by environmental factors, most prominently, chronic solar UV radiation causing photo-aging with oxidative stress as a prominent feature. Chronic solar UV exposure and/or sunburn has multiple damaging effects, such as wrinkling, scaling, dryness, hypo- and hyper pigmentation, and skin cancers. With time and chronic exposure to UV-light, the human epidermis undergoes overall thinning and increased fragility. Changes, especially in elastic fibers in the dermis, result in loss of flexibility and tensile strength, and loss of collagens increase stiffness of the skin. Histological and ultra structural studies have shown that major alterations are seen in dermal connective tissue with skin aging.
Vitamins, Minerals and Polyphenols protect you
Several strategies are applicable for protection against hazardous light exposure and subsequent impairment of molecular and cellular functions (Wolf & Young, 2001). Avoidance of sun exposure, protective covering and topical application of sunscreens with a high sun protection factor are recommended during times of intense exposure. A major contribution to endogenous protection of the human skin is provided by melanins, endogenous pigments that scatter and absorb UV light (Ortonne, 2002). In epidermal melanocytes, the production of melanin is increased by exposure to sunlight (tanning).
Endogenous or systemic photo-protection may be enhanced by supplying dietary or non-dietary compounds with photo-protective properties. The concept of additional endogenous protection was proposed about 30 years ago (Mathews-Roth et al., 1972) and has been reviewed recently (Sies & Stahl, 2004; Stahl et al., 2006). In order to increase the barrier for UV light, the compound should absorb UV light over a broad range of wavelengths with high efficacy. Antioxidants protect molecular targets by scavenging reactive oxygen species, including excited singlet oxygen and triplet state molecules. Compounds that modulate stress-dependent signaling and/or suppress cellular and tissue responses like inflammation are suitable for this purpose.
A number of efficient micro-nutrients are capable of directly scavenging lipophilic and hydrophilic pro-oxidants or serving as constituents of antioxidant enzymes. Carotenoids, tocopherols, flavanols, and other polyphenols as well as vitamin C contribute to antioxidant defense and thus contribute to endogenous photo-protection.
Nutrition plays an important part to improve skin condition. As is known, nutrition deficits can cause skin problems and an overall poor skin condition (Miller et al., 1989; Lee et al., 1997; Roe et al., 1986).
It has been shown that nutritional supplements, vitamins and minerals can clearly improve skin conditions (Roe et al., 1986; Segger & Schonlau, 2004) and can protect against UV-light induced oxidative stress. (Gorath et al., 2005). Vitamins are naturally occurring nutrients that are essential to survival and that the human body itself is unable to produce. In vitro studies have determined that many vitamins possess strong antioxidant capabilities, and may play a role in processes involved in skin growth and repair. For this reason, the possible cutaneous benefits of vitamins in both oral supplements and topical formulations have been explored widely.
Polyphenols are naturally occurring chemicals derived from plants, fruits, nuts, and vegetables. They have been proven to have various beneficial health effects.