There is an incredible barrage of information about antioxidants these days. Everyone from long-forgotten Facebook friends to your Aunt who sells Shakeology keeps peppering your feed with spam about how healthy their latest “antioxidant” juice cleanse is. Even typing in the “antioxidant” to on Google or Pinterest will give you a deluge of healthy appearing food that promises younger looking skin. The evidence behind these claims are usually lacking, though. This is meant to correct that by exploring some of the research behind these claims in plain English.
Even Hippocrates recognized the importance of fruit in a healthy diet over 2500 years ago.[Here is where we get into a little scientific talk]. Reactive oxidative species (ROS) result from ultra-violet (UV) radiation, as well as normal process that occur in our body. Cells already have mechanisms in place to deal with these, but sun exposure has the potential to overwhelm this. ROSs damage the skin by inducing inflammation (a.k.a sunburns), oxidizing the lipids (fat cells) in the skin and oil glands, and increasing pigmentation (darkening). The common theme with many of these “miracle” fruits lie in the anti-oxidant properties they contain. The next few paragraphs will go over a few what people assert are the most powerful antioxidants for skin. 1)Masaki H. Role of antioxidants in the skin: anti-aging effects. J Dermatol Sci. 2010;58(2):85-90.
- Hydrolysable tannins and anthrocyanins which are found in pomegranate seeds contain significant anti-oxidant properties. They have also been shown to prevent UV-B induced skin cancer in animal models, and reconstituted human skin models. 2)Sharma P, McClees SF, Afaq F. Pomegranate for Prevention and Treatment of Cancer: An Update. Molecules. 2017;22(1). What this means in plain English is that the studies have mainly been in labs, and not in actual people, so the results should be interpreted accordingly.
- Tocopherols (aka Vitamin E), found in wheat germ oil and almond oil, also has properties which enable it to neutralize ROSs. It has even been shown to suppress UV-B induced redness and swelling. 3)Wu S, Gao J, Dinh QT, Chen C, Fimmel S. IL-8 production and AP-1 transactivation induced by UVA in human keratinocytes: roles of D-alpha-tocopherol. Mol Immunol. 2008;45(8):2288-2296. Vitamin E deficiency skin findings can cause things like anemia, neurologic problems, and vision changes. However, too much Vitamin E rich foods can lead to Vitamin E toxicity which can be harmful, as well.
- Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) found in most fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons, can soak up ROS as well. It acts as an antioxidant for skin whitening, as well because it stops a Tyrosinase (which is an enzyme in our skin cells). It decreases inflammation and is an antioxidant for skin acne.
- Resveratrol (found in grapes, blueberries, and raspberries) has been shown to prevent UVB induced skin aging and decreases skin darkening. 4)Cao C, Lu S, Kivlin R, et al. SIRT1 confers protection against UVB- and H2O2-induced cell death via modulation of p53 and JNK in cultured skin keratinocytes. J Cell Mol Med. 2009;13(9B):3632-3643.
So when it comes down to it, all of these are commonly found in fruits and vegetables we eat every day. Antioxidant foods for weight loss are also an added benefit. These claims of antioxidants are definitely interesting, but there is still a lot of room for further study of antioxidants on skin health. In the end, limiting exposure to UV-A and UV-B radiation is the best way to keep your skin looking vibrant and healthy. This can be accomplished by a couple of simple solutions: stay out of the sun! This is the single best way of decreasing your chance of getting skin cancer as well as getting unwanted sun spots. If you are concerned about this, check out these 5 ways to tell if you have skin cancer. Moreover, wearing sunscreen with SPF 50 or higher catches greater than 98% of damaging UV rays. Some dermatologists think that most people do not apply enough sunscreen to their skin to make this effective, and so higher SPF can be beneficial when available.
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|1.||↑||Masaki H. Role of antioxidants in the skin: anti-aging effects. J Dermatol Sci. 2010;58(2):85-90.|
|2.||↑||Sharma P, McClees SF, Afaq F. Pomegranate for Prevention and Treatment of Cancer: An Update. Molecules. 2017;22(1).|
|3.||↑||Wu S, Gao J, Dinh QT, Chen C, Fimmel S. IL-8 production and AP-1 transactivation induced by UVA in human keratinocytes: roles of D-alpha-tocopherol. Mol Immunol. 2008;45(8):2288-2296.|
|4.||↑||Cao C, Lu S, Kivlin R, et al. SIRT1 confers protection against UVB- and H2O2-induced cell death via modulation of p53 and JNK in cultured skin keratinocytes. J Cell Mol Med. 2009;13(9B):3632-3643.|