There are many articles outlining just how important antioxidants like Vitamin A and E are for skin health, stating that a high antioxidant intake is beneficial and quite frankly an essential element when it comes to healing and boosting our skin.
Whilst we are aware that antioxidants are important for skin health, do we know exactly why that is?
What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants are molecules either produced endogenously (by the body) or exogenously (externally), usually through diet and the external environment. The main role of antioxidants is to help our bodies fight off inflammatory and damaging free radicals1.
Free radicals can come from the external environment and also from dietary sources much like antioxidants can. However, free radicals and environmental stressors such as processed foods, chronic unprotected UV exposure and modern living can increase inflammation in the body and leave us vulnerable to disease. Antioxidants help to mop up damage left from free radicals and expel them from the body which is vital for skin; the largest organ most exposed to wear and tear from the external environment.
As antioxidants are anti-inflammatory in nature, they are encouraged as a dietary staple for inflammatory skin conditions like eczema, dermatitis and acne.
Antioxidants may improve skin health by:
- Boosting hydration
- Support skin healing
- Reducing DNA damage by UV light
- Reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- Tackles inflammation
You commonly see antioxidants in many popular skincare products, touting many skin boosting benefits for this reason. The main antioxidant nutrients found in skincare products and are recommended to include in your daily diet are...
How could we forget collagen.
Collagen is a protein which contains fantastic antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities. Our skin is predominantly made up of proteins, with collagen being an integral element which helps to maintain skin's structure, elasticity and hydration.
Our collagen supplement at Purolabs is hydrolysed, meaning that it’s highly absorbable, easily digested and reaches the skin effectively. Whilst we make collagen endogenously, unfortunately, our natural collagen production starts to decline from our late 20’s. Therefore, replacing our natural collagen stores to keep skin plump and healthy is key.
Our collagen supplement also contains soothing aloe vera and hydrating hyaluronic acid, which helps to boost the hydrating benefits of collagen on the skin3.
A derivative of Vitamin A, retinol is the holy grail of skin renewal, anti-ageing and has been proven to help reduce skin pigmentation and discoloration4.
Vitamin A helps to boost these benefits by speeding skin cell turnover, promoting healthy fresh and vibrant new skin, which can help to reduce congestion and is commonly recommended for acne-prone skin.
Potent food sources of vitamin A are5:
- Fatty fish
Vitamin A also has immune-modulating benefits on the skin, improving the skin's microbiome. Our skin, like our gut, has a community of microbes helping to protect the skin from environmental stressors. This defence strategy by our microbes are in part supported by vitamin A intake, making it a vital nutrient in skin protection and skin immune health6.
Vitamin C is one of the most used skincare antioxidants, helping to stimulate collagen production and reduce skin pigmentation7.
Vitamin C is most commonly used in skincare for its brightening effects, helping to boost skin renewal to promote a healthy glow.
The foods most abundant in skin-friendly vitamin C include8:
- Red peppers
- Citrus fruit
- Brussels sprouts
Co Enzyme Q10
This antioxidant is produced endogenously like collagen, however much like collagen, this vital antioxidant production increases as we age. It has been shown to potentially improve skin texture and elasticity and is an underrated nutrient when it comes to skin health9.
Co-Enzyme Q 10 rich foods include:
- Fatty fish: sardines, salmon, trout, mackerel
This potent antioxidant is found in high amounts in organ meats due to its benefits on mitochondrial health, aka, the energy powerhouse of bodily cells. As organ meats can be an unappealing dietary option for many, supplementing with antioxidant may be preferred10.
Vitamin E is another popular skincare ingredient antioxidant. Vitamin E is used to help protect and lubricate the skin barrier which can be a useful nutrient to help with eczema and other inflammatory skin conditions.
Whilst the studies are inconclusive, there is much anecdotal evidence for the skin-boosting effects of vitamin E on the skin barrier and its potential role as a natural SPF.
Whilst it is entirely possible to obtain adequate antioxidant intake on a plant based diet, many fat soluble antioxidant nutrients which are more commonly derived from animal foods, such as vitamin A & D may be more bioavailable than its plant counterparts. If you are looking to boost your antioxidant intake, then consider supplementing with our multivitamin which contains several key skin-loving antioxidants.
Plant antioxidant foods such as carotenoids which are plant-sources of vitamin A can be better absorbed when cooked. Vitamin C foods however, are best eaten raw in order to preserve its antioxidant benefits.
Whilst antioxidants are incredibly beneficial for healthy skin, it is always important to ensure that you also cover the basics, such as remaining hydrated by aiming for 2 litres of water intake daily. Water sends nutrients via the bloodstream to the skin's surface. Skin complexion and function is also compromised by dehydration therefore ensuring that you are adequately hydrated.
It is also important to consider reducing high processed food (UPF) intake as these foods are generally high in sodium, which is dehydrating. UPFs also contain artificial oxidative preservatives which counteract the benefits of antioxidant intake11.
A varied, colourful wholefoods diet with adequate water intake is a great base for beautiful healthy skin.