You must have heard the word ” Antioxidants ” mentioned countless times in relation to the skin, body, foods, skin care products, dietary supplements and so on, and how very essential they are to us but you may have never been told what are the benefits of antioxidants to our skin, isn’t that so? Well if that is the case with you, then read on and you would find your answers.
Antioxidants, What They Are
Antioxidants are natural or man-made substances which can stop, delay or prevent damage to cells in our body. Normal body activities such as breathing, exercise, and other lifestyle habits like smoking, drinking alcohol produce substances called Free Radicals in our body. These free radicals attack healthy cells in our body, the cells are weakened making them vulnerable to diseases, infections and certain skin conditions.
Antioxidants are then released from the foods we eat through digestion and travel through the bloodstream and into cells where they fight the free radicals.
What Are Free Radicals
Just so you know, free radicals are atoms or a group of atoms that have unpaired electrons. Existing in this unpaired state, these atoms are unstable and highly reactive and are potentially damaging to living tissues. In order to stabilize themselves, they will attempt to steal an electron from somewhere or something in the body, usually from another cell or surrounding cells, such as blood and tissue lipids.
It is this process or the art of stealing an electron that leads to damages resulting in diseases and aging. Our bodies age due to damages done to cells in it over time.
Sources Of Free Radicals
Free radicals may form on their own or result from environmental effects such as exposure to sun or heat, pollution, smoking, medications, etc, or even due to emotional factors such as stress, anxiety, worry etc. Unstable free radical atoms like those from pollution and sun radiation can prey on the electrons in your skin’s cells resulting in uneven skin tone, inflammation, and signs of premature aging.
The body usually has an inbuilt defense mechanism to reduce the impact of free radicals but can use some help. This is where antioxidants come in. Antioxidants molecules attach themselves to the free radicals thereby disabling them and potentially reducing harm to molecules such as DNA. Once antioxidants bind to free radicals, they are no longer free to bind with other electrons from other molecules to damage your healthy cells.
Benefits Of Antioxidants
Antioxidants prevent damage to cells by giving free radicals what they want….pairing with the atoms’ unpaired electrons …before they attack your cells. Antioxidants thereby stabilize or deactivate free radicals before they attack cells in your body. So you now see that you can reinforce your skin health inside out and also your overall health by adhering to an antioxidant-rich skincare and eating antioxidant-rich foods. Antioxidant-rich foods are good for your health in the same way antioxidant-rich skincare affords us healthy skin and ward off signs of aging.
Sources Of Antioxidants
Antioxidants can be found:
• Naturally in the body (endogenous). Our bodies have the inherent ability to defend itself against free radical by producing three substances namely; Glutathione, Catalase, and Superoxide Dismutase (SOD). But where there is not enough production by the body, then there is the need for replenishment through the intake of foods and, where lacking from foods (for whatever reasons), through the intake of supplements
• Naturally in foods (exogenous). The body gets antioxidants from other sources such as foods and supplements. There are so many foods that are high in antioxidants.
Types Of Antioxidants – Classified Within The Nutrient Family
The different antioxidants can be grouped, according to their functions and sources, into five main types;
These are substances that your body needs to grow and develop naturally. They participate in the processes of repair of your cells and tissue. Several Vitamins exist but not all of them are antioxidants. Those that have antioxidant properties are
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K and
- Folic Acid.
These are essential Minerals that you need to stay healthy. They can be gotten from diet and supplements. Several of them have antioxidant properties or aid other antioxidants to perform their functions in the body. They include
- Selenium and
3 Phytonutrients/ Phytochemicals
These are substances produced by plants with nutritious properties. Those of them that have antioxidant properties include
a) Carotenoids such as;
b) Flavonoids which are polyphenolic compounds such as;
- Phenolic Acids
- Allyl Sulfides
4 Enzymes and CoEnzymes
Enzymes and CoEnzymes are antioxidants which the body produce. They help your body to react. coenzymes assist the enzymes to carry out their functions. They include antioxidants such as;
- Superoxide Dismutase (SOD)
- Glutathione Reductase
- CoEnzymes Q10
- Catalase and
5 Protein ( Amino Acids )
Protein is a compound made up of Amino Acids. The body produces amino acids from protein which helps to repair tissues, growth and other numerous functions. They are antioxidant nutrients that help protect you from free radicals, keeping your tissues young and vital for longer. Specifically, they help detoxify chemicals from your cells and can prevent and treat Sarcopenia, which is the loss of muscle tissue as a result of aging
Amino Acids are made up of;
- Glutathione Peroxide
- Thioreductase and
- Alpha Lipoic Acid
Antioxidants And Skin Wellness
When it comes to skin health, antioxidants are widely commended for their anti-aging benefits. Antioxidants play a major role in delaying signs of aging by countering the effects of free radicals in that they prevent and minimize cell damage and inflammation which leads to wrinkles and age spots. Their benefits to the skin are the most well-known effects of the substance.
Antioxidants can be gotten from diets and supplements and they also exist in skincare products
Antioxidants In Skincare
Antioxidants benefit the skin in that they destroy free radicals and reduce the damage they cause to skin health. They also improve the ability of the skin to repair itself to stay healthy and youthful.
Though antioxidants have the same goals, each one has its unique role. Therefore, so long as the skin health is concerned, not all the antioxidants are useful to it.
The main source of the free radical which breaks down collagen is exposure to harmful Ultra Violet rays. A major percentage of signs of aging on the skin is attributable to long-term exposure to sun without protection. Other factors which contribute to signs of aging exist but are in a lesser percentage.
Skincare Antioxidants, Their Functions, And Sources
Different antioxidants counteract the effect of free radicals damage to the skin, but the best ones among them are the following;
Vitamin A promotes new skin cell growth and repairs damaged cells. As a strong antioxidant, it wards off free radical damage in the body, thus preventing fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin A encourages the production of sebum, a skin oil produced naturally in the body, that hydrates your skin and prevents dryness.
Retinoids is the name by which all derivatives of vitamin A are known. Retinol, which is one of them works inside the cells in conjunction with other receptors to help them function as if they were younger. It improves skin texture and fades under eye circles.
Some rich sources of vitamin A include squash, carrots, sweet potatoes and liver
This vitamin referred to as an “All round anti-ager”, which is also known as ascorbic acid, cleans up all the free radicals that trigger wrinkling, sagging and other age-related changes. It helps to smoothen the skin and fades age spots.
This vitamin also encourages production of collagen, an essential protein that gives your skin elasticity and resilience. It can be applied topically as well as gotten from foods.
Some sources include lime, lemon, grapefruits, oranges, strawberry, and cauliflower.
This vitamin is also known as sunshine vitamin because your body can produce it from exposure to mild sun’s ray on your body. It also has the ability to help reverse aging by ensuring that you feel healthier and look younger.
Sources of this vitamin include sunlight, fatty fish like tuna, mackerel and salmon, dairy products, orange juice, soy milk and cereals, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, and mushroom.
This vitamin works with vitamin C to protect your body’s cells. It is the vitamin of moisture because it quells dryness by helping the skin retain its natural moisturizers thereby keeping your skin soft and moisturized.
It reduces the number of unstable atoms created after exposure to cigarette smoke. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that is beneficial internally and externally. This vitamin aids in skin cell regrowth, improves blood circulation and fights free radicals that damage cells in your body
Some of its sources are blueberries, strawberries, avocados, spinach, nuts, and sunflower seeds
This vitamin, also known as Phytonadione can fade dark circles. Vitamin K helps your bones use calcium, which can help prevent certain conditions such as osteoporosis.
Vitamin K can be gotten from cabbage, broccoli, fermented dairy, prunes, dried basil green leafy vegetables like kale and spring onions.
This antioxidant, though very ignored and very rarely mentioned in the list of the best antioxidants for the skin, is of great benefit to the skin texture. This is because it promotes collagen production and reduces damage to DNA which causes fine lines and wrinkles to appear on the skin.
Its sources include Tomatoes, autumn olive, watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava, papaya, wolfberry (goji, a berry relative of tomato), rosehip and supplements like Omega-3.
This is another antioxidant which is rarely mentioned. Often called “the king of the carotenoids,” astaxanthin is more powerful than other carotenoids like beta-carotene and lycopene. It is one of the most potent and powerfully effective antioxidants that one can take into the body.
Astaxanthin has powerful UV-blocking properties that help protect the fish eggs from sun-related damage. Taking astaxanthin can also provide humans with similar health benefits. This antioxidant has also been shown to reduce wrinkles, and to improve skin moisture levels.
Because it can effectively combat free radicals and neutralize multiple of them at once, it is considered the best antioxidant for skincare.
This antioxidant can be found in Wild Pacific sockeye salmon, krill, algae, red trout, shrimp, crab lobster, and crayfish.
This antioxidant interrupts and helps ward off free radicals reaction from negative environmental influences. Resveratrol also brightens up a person’s complexion and evens out the skin tone.
Sources of resveratrol include red grape, peanut butter, dark chocolate, and blueberries.
The mineral selenium helps protect the body from skin cancer caused by sun exposure. It also preserves tissue elasticity and slows down the aging and hardening of tissues associated with oxidation.
Recent studies have found that when selenium is taken orally or through the skin in the form of L-selenomethionine, it provided protection against both every day and excessive UV damage. A study also showed selenium also delayed the development of skin cancer in animals.
Dietary sources of the mineral include whole grain cereals, seafood, garlic, and eggs.
Antioxidants are substances that reduce damage caused by free radicals or prevent it from occurring. They play an important role in our skin health and the aging process. While nutrition is a great way to get these antioxidants, high-quality supplements have been found to be of immense benefit to a person’s skin health as well. It has been mentioned here that though all antioxidants are important to the body, not all are relevant to the skin’s health. Some anti-aging antioxidants and their functions and sources have been discussed. It would be noteworthy that instead of focusing on one specific antioxidant, you will experience greater benefits if you consume a well-balanced diet rich in different antioxidants or take supplements that provide them. They work together to keep your skin healthy.
Remember also that before taking any supplements, first consult your doctor for advice and guidance.
Do you know of any other beneficial anti-aging antioxidants not mentioned here? Please share with us. You may leave your contributions or questions below and I will happily get back to you.