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Fight UV Damage With Food

Contact Author Ginger Downey, MS, CNS, Dermamed

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Getting daily vitamins from the foods we eat or from dietary supplements is a basic tenant of healthy living. Did you know that your skin can also benefit greatly from eating a nutrient-dense diet? It can, and research suggests that a combination of oral and topical vitamins and antioxidants may be the best approach for achieving a radiant glow.

Skin aging comes from two sources: chronological aging and extrinsic aging. Chronological aging is simply a result of our time on this earth. Conversely, extrinsic skin aging is the result of external factors and environmental influence such as sun exposure, smoking, pollution, sleep deprivation and poor nutrition. Vitamins, minerals, carotenoids, antioxidants and fats all play important roles in maintaining healthy skin. Star players on the nutrition team to fight extrinsic aging are the B vitamins, vitamins A, C, D, and E, zinc, lutein, lycopene, genistein, ECGC and resveratrol. Skin regeneration requires these nutrients throughout life, and in increased amounts under certain conditions such as exposure to free radicals and UV radiation. We need to ingest these compounds in the right amounts to nourish and protect the skin. Growing research also supports the benefits of topical application of these same compounds to offer benefits from the outside in.

Antioxidants and Healthy Aging

Antioxidants are substances that prevent oxidation, also referred to as oxidative stress. They are nature’s way of protecting your cells from damage. In this process of oxidation, free radicals cause damage to the skin tissues, speeding up the aging process. Antioxidant-rich foods are plant based and many times referred to as phytochemicals, meaning derived from plants. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture developed a scale for measuring an antioxidant food’s ability to neutralize free radicals, called an oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) score. The higher a food’s ORAC score, the more powerful it is in combating age-related degeneration and disease. Foods with the highest ORAC scores include spices, cocoa powder (unsweetened) and richly colored fruits and vegetables.

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Ginger Hodulik Downey, MS, is a Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nutrition. She has worked in clinical practice and wellness program development and implemen­tation. Currently, she serves as co-owner and VP of R&D for DermaMed Solutions.

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