Too Much Fun in the Sun? Antioxidants Help Reverse Damage

Did you have all kinds of fun soaking in the sun and getting a nice tan when you were young? It was no big deal…until you later started to see the effects of aging skin: wrinkles forming, skin becoming patchy, rough, less firm and a little saggy.  Chronic exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation leads to skin changes, discoloration and even skin cancers.  Then along comes antioxidants to the rescue!

There are many products being sold with claims of anti-aging properties and other health benefits without much concrete evidence based in research.  To test the effect of antioxidants and other nutrients on skin aging, researchers recruited 60 women in Thailand aged 35 to 60 in a study.  Half of the women received a placebo pill, while the other half received a dietary supplement containing minerals, glycosaminoglycans (naturally-occurring carbohydrates found in skin), and various antioxidants (coenzyme Q10, beta-carotene, green tea extract).  Without knowing whether they were taking the actual dietary supplement or a placebo, those that took the dietary supplement experienced 21 percent improvement in skin roughness and finer wrinkles as compared to fewer than 2 percent experiencing improvement in the placebo group.  No change in skin color was reported, thus no benefits seen with skin spotting or pigmentation were seen in this study.

Skin normally has its own antioxidant enzymes, but they do deteriorate with age and chronic damage.  This study showed that the antioxidants and minerals seem to provide the skin extra protection against oxidative damage. as well as skin breakdown and even reverse some of the damage already done.   More research is needed to better understand the mechanism, thus this does not mean you should start taking various dietary supplements to better your skin.  Instead, stay tuned for more research coming out.  In the meantime, limit your UV radiation exposure and get plenty of antioxidants naturally from foods in a balanced diet.

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