26 April 2011

Nutricosmetics & ageing: the truth

Nowadays, cosmetic labels read like menus, with skin creams containing anything from vitamin C to zinc to beta-carotene. But can these compounds really prevent skin ageing?

Last night Carte Blanche Medical highlighted anti-ageing foods. Watch the video here.

Because many foods are believed to have youth-promoting effects, it was inevitable that the possible link between diet, vitamin and mineral supplements, and maintaining a youthful, glowing skin devoid of lines and wrinkles, would be explored.

  • Oral supplementation with CoQ10 didn't have any anti-ageing effects in mice. However, topical applications of CoQ10 did reduce oxidation in the upper layers of the skin.
  • When human subjects were given 50mg each of vitamin C, CoQ10 and selenium for 15 and 30 days, an increase in the CoQ10 content in one of the layers of the skin called the stratum corneum was observed.
  • Soybean flavonoids (genistein and daidzein) act as phyto-oestrogens when we ingest them. Application of oestrogens to the skin increased skin thickness and improved collagen synthesis, but no clinical trials have been published that support the theory that soybean flavonoids with their oestrogen-like properties will give the same results as oestrogen creams.
  • Curcurmin, which is derived from the turmeric ("borrie") plant, has been used for thousands of years to flavour food and is popular in South African dishes such as curries and yellow rice ("geel rys"). As a powerful antioxidant and flavonoid, a derivative of curcurmin is also being added to cosmetics, but so far few studies have been conducted with this compound.
  • Silymarin, or extract of milk thistle, contains three flavonoids that have strong antioxidant properties. The antioxidant properties of silymarin have been demonstrated in experimental mice, where a 92% reduction in skin tumours was found after the mice had been exposed to UVB. Other studies with animals have also shown that milk-thistle extract can have healing properties.
  • Silymarin is a popular additive in moisturisers to prevent ageing due to sun exposure and to reduce redness of the facial skin. One study with 46 subjects suffering from a condition called rosacea, which is characterised by reddening of the skin (especially of the face), showed that products containing milk-thistle extract reduce skin redness, itching and skin colour.
  • Ginkgo biloba is a favourite antioxidant that is used both orally and topically, and which is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties. Some research indicates that extract of gingko may promote growth of skin fibroblasts and increased collagen in the skin. Consequently, many skin-care products use gingko extract for its purported antioxidant characteristics and to improve collagen synthesis.


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