NUTRIENT INTAKES AND SKIN APPEARANCE
Recent research shows that lutein and zeaxanthin play a role in protecting the vitality of the skin.
Nutrition and Skin Aging
Did you know your skin begins to age during your 20s? It can seem like a bit of a betrayal, but your body starts to decrease the natural production of collagen and elastin proteins that help your skin stay firm and plump. And the differences aren’t just on the surface—they’re actually beyond skin deep. Located beneath the epidermal layers is the dermis, which contains most of the collagen and elastin fibers responsible for skin’s elastic recoil and firmness. Loss of this collagen is estimated to average about 1.5% per year—and that’s without factoring in the impact of Ultraviolet (UV) light damage.
Nutritional status also plays an important role in the maintenance and appearance of healthy skin. Both macronutrients and micronutrients are essential for skin’s structure, function, and appearance. For example, vitamin C is an essential part of skin health because of its important role in collagen production.
The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin are also present in the skin. Newer research provides evidence of their ability to provide protection from light-induced skin damage, especially the ultraviolet wavelengths, by filtering high-energy blue light. They also provide a double whammy by acting as antioxidants that quench and scavenge photo-induced reactive oxygen species (ROS). A new randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study—using either an oral dietary supplement containing 10 mg lutein and 2 mg zeaxanthin or a placebo—found an overall improvement in skin tone and luminance compared to the placebo group. While more studies are needed to better understand this protective role in skin, it is a good start at looking for the benefits of these carotenoids beyond eye health.
Consuming a diet rich in fruits and vegetables of various colors to increase intake of lutein and zeaxanthin is an important part of your skin health. And don’t forget to wear sunscreen as well. Be sure to choose sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 every day. Other tips for skin care? Get plenty of sleep, exercise regularly, drink enough water, and don’t smoke.
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