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The Truth About Antioxidants

Posted by andriantoangkadirjo85 on April 19, 2011

Hi!

I just encounter a good article in totalbeauty.com about antioxidants. It is really simple, easy to understand, complete & comprehensive discussion …i gave two thumbs up for this one. So I just copy this article to my blog just to share with others and for my own docs.. Here the article :

Antioxidants.


We hear this word every day as it relates to maintaining a healthy skin diet and we assume we also need them in our skin care regimen. But what are these antioxidants exactly and what do they do?

Warring camps in the dermatology world are having ongoing debates about the importance of antioxidants. In fact, the Journal of the American Medical Association conducted a study that shows that ingesting too many antioxidants may cause harmful toxin levels in our bodies to rise, which may, in turn, cause cancer. A scary thought indeed..

But we do also know that antioxidants are the nutrients that protect our bodies from nasty little free radicals, which attack cell membranes and cause accelerated aging and chronic disease. In essence, antioxidants act as a shield, taking the hits these free radicals fire and neutralizing them before they can attack healthy cells.

Because of their protective properties, antioxidants are said to reduce signs of aging and prevent certain cancers. But the question must be asked — are the superpowers these nutrients seem to have too good to be true? And could they really be causing more harm than good?

To figure out the answer we went to Gayl Canfield, Director of Nutrition at Pritikin Longevity Center + Spa in Miami and celebrity nutritionists Paula Simpson and Joy Bauer. Here they boil down the conflicting chatter you’ve likely heard about the antioxidants contained in the nutricosmetics and nutritional supplements that claim to support your skin’s youthful image. You’ll find that while some are necessary for healthy skin, others may actually wreak havoc.

 1. The truth about free radicals

We are exposed to free radicals every day via natural elements like the sun, which means they’re pretty much unavoidable. Yet, we can exacerbate the levels of them in our bodies by making unhealthy lifestyle choices like consuming toxins and byproducts found in fast foods, caffeine and cigarettes. Basically, “the more toxic your lifestyle is, the more free radicals you’re going to be exposed to,” says Simpson.

And, since skin is the largest organ of the body, it’s the most susceptible to free radical damage. So, in addition to wearing SPF topically, you can (and should) protect your skin internally by increasing your antioxidant consumption through diet and supplements.

2. The truth about vitamin C

Not only is it a well-known immune system booster, vitamin C is also “a required cofactor for collagen production, which is a critical component for skin,” says Simpson. Critical, because collagen production helps tighten skin cells, which helps decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. In addition, as a water-soluble antioxidant, vitamin C helps protect skin cells from sun damage, says Bauer. The Recommended Daily Amount (RDA) of vitamin C for adult females over 19 years of age is 75 mg, 110 for smokers.*

Where it’s found: The obvious food sources are citrus fruits. However, Canfield says they actually don’t have the highest levels of vitamin C. Look to the pepper family like bell peppers and jalepenos, instead, which have the highest concentrations of the vitamin.

* According to the Linus Pauling Institute

3. The truth about vitamin E

There’s conflicting research about the health benefits and risks associated with taking vitamin E supplements. But, a good rule of thumb is to take just as much as you need … and no more. For adult females the RDA is 15 mg. Simpson says, “the research that has come out as of today is that vitamin E is the most concentrated antioxidant in the skin. Therefore, it helps create healthy skin cells and is an integral part of the cell membrane.” By producing new skin cells, vitamin E helps “make the skin look plump and firm.” However, she warns, “it is fat-soluble, so if you are over-ingesting it, then it can become toxic in the body by accumulating in your fat tissue.”

Where it’s found: To avoid over ingesting vitamin E, Canfield recommends obtaining the nutrient through food since “it’s virtually impossible to get toxicity from eating foods.” You can find it in high-oil content foods like wheat germ, nuts and seeds (such as sunflower seeds, peanuts, almonds) and avocados.

* According to the Linus Pauling Institute

4. The truth about vitamin A

Beta-carotene is crucial for skin health, says Bauer. It’s a plant form of vitamin A, which is responsible for repairing and growing new cells. However, vitamin A is also fat-soluble like vitamin E, so you must avoid ingesting too much. The RDA for adult females who aren’t pregnant is 700 mcg. In addition, Canfield warns that you can’t necessarily outsmart aging and prevent cancer just by taking an exorbitant amount of these vitamins. Too much will actually increase cancer risks. The Finnish Alpha-Tocopherol Beta-Carotene (ATBC), among other studies, has shown that while “fully expecting beta-carotene to reduce lung cancer, [they found] it actually increased it.”

That’s why Canfield recommends avoiding beta-carotene supplements. Rather, she advises to increase your fruit and vegetable intake as she mentioned earlier as it’s nearly impossible to achieve toxic levels of any vitamin through food. Innumerable studies show that “people who consume the most fruits and vegetables have the lowest disease risks around the world. That’s where the power really lies, [in] making better food choices,” she says.

Where it’s found: Orange-colored things like carrots, sweet potatoes, and apricots have it. Also, leafy vegetables such as kale, collards and turnip greens are great sources of this vitamin.

* According to the Linus Pauling Institute

5. The truth about topical retinoids

The money word in anti-aging skin care these days is retinoid — so what is it exactly? Retinoids are basically derivatives of vitamin A, which you now know plays an integral part in your skin’s health. “So by giving the body adequate retinoid, you can essentially make new skin tissue,” says Canfield.

Retinol is the most common over-the-counter topical form of the vitamin, but unless you use a high concentration of it, you won’t see significant improvement in fine lines and wrinkles. However, if you use too much retinoid, it can cause “toxicity to the skin and dying off of the skin cells,” doing exactly the opposite of what it’s intended to do.

That’s why you may want to avoid it altogether and opt instead for topical tretinoin (find this in prescription creams like Retin-A or Retin-A Micro). Unlike retinol, which takes time to convert, tretinoin (another retinoid) provides more immediate results and “can be very effective in diminishing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” says Simpson. Start off slow with this ingredient though as too much of it too soon can irritate skin causing it to get red and peel.

Where it’s found: If you’ve never used a retinoid, try an over-the-counter product that contains retinol or retinyl palmitate first (try SkinCeuticals Retinol 1.0, $59), then if you haven’t seen the results you’re after, talk to your doctor about trying a prescription for a tretinoin cream.

6. The truth about selenium

All minerals, selenium included, work to stimulate antioxidant production in the body. But, you must get them from your diet because your body does not naturally produce them. Selenium specifically is one of the most powerful minerals as it aids in the absorption of vitamin E in addition to protecting your skin’s elasticity and providing sun protection.

The kicker is that you only need a very small amount of it — think a millionth of a gram (55 mcg*) daily. More than that may be toxic and lead to hair and nail loss. “Many times, something that helps in low doses, can do the exact opposite in high doses. The very thing you’re taking it for will actually start to deteriorate,” says Canfield. So, if you take selenium and think your skin is getting worse, don’t take more of the mineral, which would only aggravate it more, she says. It’s quite the catch-22.

Where it’s found: Canfield says that since U.S. soil has selenium in it almost anything that grows from the ground will contain it. Grains, wheat germ and legumes all have selenium, in addition to seafood and eggs. Canfield says, “it’s really rare that someone has a selenium deficiency,” so her advice is to avoid taking a supplement.

* According to the Linus Pauling Institute

7. The truth about phytonutrients

Phytonutrients (like lycopene and lutein) are antioxidants that come from a plant substance. They have been shown to be powerful weapons in the fight against degenerative diseases.

And while Canfield points out that they don’t have a direct affect on skin or hair, when you consume phytonutrients, it will improve the overall health of your body. And “whenever you’re well nourished, your antioxidant intake is what it should be, and your immune system is at its best, then your skin is at its healthiest (assuming your getting adequate water).” Basically, “when your body is healthy, your skin is going to reflect that — and so is your hair.”

Where they’re found: Lutein is found in veggies that have a yellow-orange pigment — think butternut squash, and deep green vegetables like spinach and kale, says Canfield. Lycopene is found in red fruits and veggies — and especially in tomatoes and tomato products. Other fruits like red watermelon, papaya, guava and pink grapefruit also contain the nutrient.

8. The truth about supplements

This may come as a shock, but “it’s a good general rule that you don’t need supplements, if you just focus on getting your fruits and veggies in,” says Canfield. Plus, you’ll get more nutrients and benefits from eating the antioxidants in their natural form, while avoiding an overdose. “When you try to extract something out of a food and put it in to a pill, you take it out of its natural environment, and there are other substances in the foods that help your body utilize the antioxidant better,” she says.

That’s why she recommends increasing your fruit and veggie consumption to eight or nine servings a day. One way to make sure you’re getting variety is to “eat something that’s from a [different] color of the rainbow every day.” So have something white (cauliflower, onion, potato), and red (tomato, watermelon) and so forth. “Then, you’ll get a nice mix of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals.”

Simpson agrees saying, “the biggest myth is how people think they can supplement with antioxidants and not have to follow a balanced eating plan. [Good health] is really about synergy.” Simpson personally looks at supplementation to “complement diet,” not replace it.

9. The truth about ingesting vs. applying           antioxidants

“When you’re talking about nutricosmetics, people think they’re replacing a topical product or regimen, but that isn’t the case,” says Simpson. “When you’re applying [the antioxidant] topically, you’re putting it on the acute area. When you’re taking an ingestible, that’s going to go through the body, and works systemically.” The primary difference between topical and oral applications of nutricosmetics is that topical products directly the area it’s applied to (such as your under eye area), but consuming the nutrients will improve your skin from head to toe.

10. The truth about results

Simpson says a prevalent misconception many women have is that you’ll see instant results from taking ingestibles. But the truth is, it takes three to five weeks for new skin cells to grow, so regardless of whether you apply antioxidant-rich products topically or consume the nutrients, it’ll take at least that much time for results to show.

andriantoangkadirjo85 bottom line

A very good article..simple, comprehensive & complete discussion. Anyhow,  it needs time to read and re-read to get a better & fully understanding.


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