Antioxidants and Your Health.

Everybody wants a beautiful skin that stays young and healthy for a very long time. However, aging, sun exposure, an unbalanced diet, and stress are just a few factors that prevent our skin from looking great. This is where antioxidants come to the rescue, because, if wisely introduced into the daily diet and skincare routine, they can work miracles.

What are antioxidants?

Oxidation is a natural chemical process that occurs at cell level in our body. If you have seen a peeled apple turn brown, then you have witnessed an oxidation process, and it is not pretty. Antioxidants are chemicals that have the property of preventing the oxidation of cells. They can be found in our body, as well as in fruits and vegetables, in the form of enzymes, vitamins and minerals.

The most popular antioxidants are vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene, selenium and magnesium. They are joined by coenzyme Q10, lipoic acid, flavonoids, lutein, lycopene, and many others.

How do they work?

Our body produces daily the dreaded free radicals that we always hear about. The process occurs as a side effect of breaking down food and turning it into energy; some free radicals are in the food we eat, some form at skin level after sun exposure. These free radicals are lacking electrons, which they end up stealing from our body cells. The antioxidant molecules act as electron donors to the free radicals, thus preventing them from damaging our body tissue.

While protecting us against the attack of the free radicals, antioxidants end up being oxidized; therefore, it is important to keep replenishing our body’s supply of antioxidants. We can take them out of foods rich in antioxidants such as berries, green tea or whole grains, skincare products that contain them, and manufactured dietary supplements.

Antioxidants and skincare

In skincare, antioxidants can help slow down the aging process and protect our skin from the damaging effects of the sun. Antioxidants protect the cells from damage and encourage tissue growth, which is very helpful to the skin’s constant regenerating process.

Some of the best-known antioxidants for their beneficial effects on our skin are:

  • Vitamin A – also known as retinol, is key for cell growth;
  • Vitamin C – ascorbic acid, is an antioxidant that helps tissue grow;
  • Vitamin E – helps the body regulate retinol levels, which is essential for healthy skin;
  • Coenzyme Q10 – also known as CoQ10, helps protect cells from damage;
  • Selenium – is a mineral that may help protect the skin against sun damage and wrinkles.

Sources:

Discovery Fit & Health:

http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/information/nutrition/antioxidants-affect-skin.htm

http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/food-nutrition/facts/antioxidant.htm

Harvard School of Public Health:

http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/antioxidants/

US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine:

http://nccam.nih.gov/health/antioxidants/introduction.htm

WebMD.com:

http://www.webmd.com/healthy-beauty/skin-care-guide