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The Amazing Blueberry

By: Ada Polla Tray
Posted: June 6, 2008, from the February 2007 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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At the cellular level, free radicals have damaging effects in four areas, with various negative consequences to the skin (see Negative Effects on the Skin).

Antioxidants prevent or stop the various reactions caused by free radicals and repair the resulting damage. Specifically, the polyphenols found in blueberries—more specifically, the anthocyanosidic extract—are powerful scavengers of free radicals,4 helping at various levels of the cell. They inhibit lipid peroxidation,5 or citrin coloration, and prevent the production of elastase, which is involved in the degradation of collagen, or loss of suppleness and dehydration.6

Iron-chelating activity

Iron has been featured often in the health and consumer press in the context of anemia. Although many articles have discussed the various ways of ensuring appropriate iron intake—whether through a diet that includes red meat and plenty of fruits and vegetables, or through the daily use of supplements—few people realize that unusually high levels of iron can pose serious health risks.

Excess iron is involved in a number of ailments that all have an oxidative component—such as cardiovascular, brain and muscle diseases—as well as in premature skin aging. Indeed, free iron is involved in the Fenton chemical reaction that leads to the production of the hydroxyl radical, one of the most harmful free radicals.7

The management and prevention of excess iron through the use of topical iron chelators to combat photodamage and premature skin aging is a novel approach in skin care. Neutralizing free iron helps to minimize its involvement in the production of free radicals, thus promoting the skin’s youthfulness.