Our skin is continually exposed to many environmental pollutants and other free radicals so we need antioxidents for healthy skin Free radicals come can be found in food preservatives, radiation, car fumes and cigarette smoke. Free radicals are also produced internally through many metabolic processes that continually occur in our bodies. An example is the natural process of breathing, as the air contains various levels of pollution depending on your environment. As our skin is the first line of defence against free radical damage we need to take measures to preserve its health. Free radicals have been linked to illnesses and chronic diseases such as heart disease, arthritis, diabetes and cancer.
As we age, there is a gradual decrease in the quality of collagen production. Collagen is a type of protein that is the main constituent of connective tissue (in skin and tendons). Collagen gives structure and strength to skin and prevents skin from sagging.
Antioxidants are important in neutralising free radicals and help to prevent damage to the collagen. Antioxidants are naturally produced by the body, but due to the level of free radical damage that we are exposed to, it is advisable to supplement the diet with antioxidants. Antioxidants can be obtained from the diet in foods such as fresh vegetables and fruits, although the levels are not high enough to combat the amount of free radicals that we are exposed to.
Vitamin A is required for healthy skin, and due to its antioxidant action this vitamin provides protection against pollution and other harmful chemicals. This strong antioxidant can be found in both animal and vegetable sources. The vegetable sources of vitamin A are known as carotenes. Foods that contain vitamin A include liver, whole eggs, cheddar cheese and whole milk. Natural sources of carotene are carrots, spinach, sweet peppers, dark green leafy vegetables and sweet potatoes.
Vitamin C is a water soluble antioxidant that is very important for maintaining and promoting the growth of healthy collagen. Vitamin C is also helps the skin to heal and is essential for the immune system. This vitamin in found in many fruits and vegetables. Good sources are blackcurrants, citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, watercress, peppers and papaya.
This is a fat soluble vitamin that is a powerful antioxidant. As Vitamin E is fat soluble, it helps protects the out coating of our skin cells from harmful effects of free radicals. Vitamin E is essential for healthy skin as it has been shown to be beneficial for dry skin. This vitamin is commonly added to many skin preparations as it has been shown to reduce scaring, stretch marks and to prevent water loss from the skin. Vitamin E is found in nuts, seeds, soya and olive oil.
Alpha-Lipoic Acid is a water and fat soluble antioxidant, i.e. it benefits both fat and water soluble cells in our body. There have been some studies that show Alpha-Lipoic Acid to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and improve the quality of the skin but the results have not been consistent. This antioxidant can help to lower blood sugar levels, so may help against skin conditions, such as acne rosacea and dry skin that are triggered by fluctuating sugar levels. Natural sources of Alpha-Lipoic Acid are spinach, broccoli, and brewer’s yeast.
This vital antioxidant has many functions in the body, such helping to prevent heart disease, treating allergies and boosting the immune system. This antioxidant is natural produced in the body, but the levels deteriote with age. Co-enzyme Q10 is also important for preventing damage to the collagen. This supplement also helps to maintain levels of Vitamin A in the body. Co-enzyme Q10 can be found in peanuts, fish, broccoli, eggs and whole grains.
Zinc is a very important mineral and antioxidant for maintaining and stimulating healthy skin. This mineral is also very important for maintaining levels of Vitamin E in the body and helping the body to absorb Vitamin A. As you can see, both of these vitamins are essential for health skin. Natural sources of Zinc include almonds, peanuts, pumpkin and sesame seeds, corn and mung beans.
There are a wide range of antioxidants that can help you maintain and improve the health of your skin. These can all be obtained from food sources, but it is sometimes important to add a good quality supplement, due to the continued exposure to free radicals in our environment.