The cosmetic industry has generated a multi-billion dollar market based on the promise of recreating youthful-looking skin with fewer wrinkles, fine lines and age spots. And thousands of women and men buy into this promise, spending hundreds—if not thousands—of dollars every year on creams, laser or microdermabrasion treatments and more drastic procedures like Botox injections or plastic surgery.
But what if you could get similar results at a fraction of the cost—just by taking a few inexpensive vitamins? A recent study shows that it’s possible to regain the appearance of more youthful, radiant skin just by taking a handful of readily available supplements.
In this double-blind study, researchers provided postmenopausal women with a specially formulated drink that contained lycopene, soy isoflavones and vitamins C and E, which they took along with fish oil. They found that this combination of nutrients produced clinically measurable improvement in the depth of wrinkles, all thanks to the “increased deposition of new collagen fibers in the dermis.”
The Collagen Connection
Why is the production of collagen so important in this equation?
Collagen is a sponge-like framework upon which skin is built. Because its main role is to support the skin, collagen is what makes the skin look taut and youthful. Inside this framework exist chambers that are occupied by substances called glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), which—along with fat—also keep the framework plumped up.
Fibroblasts, cells that live in the skin, are constantly breaking down old collagen fibers and supplying fresh collagen and GAGs to keep the framework strong and robust. In our younger years, this breakdown/rebuild cycle is perfectly balanced.
However, as we age, the production of new collagen and GAGs starts to slow down, while the breakdown of old collagen continues at the same pace—leaving a definite imbalance in favor of the breakdown process. Over time, the supportive framework that keeps your skin firm and lifted starts to collapse, resulting in the dreaded signs of aging—fine lines, wrinkles and sagging, thinning skin.
Fortunately, this research shows that the breakdown/rebuild cycle can be balanced out simply by giving the skin with nourishing, antioxidant-rich nutrients.
Antioxidant Protection and More
Vitamins C and E are known for their strong antioxidant properties, particularly when it comes to preventing and repairing ultraviolet damage from the sun. And lycopene, better known for its role in prostate health and cancer prevention, also happens to be a powerful antioxidant for skin health.
These nutrients work together to preserve, repair and produce collagen, fight free radicals and protect against the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. In fact, the skin uses lycopene to fight the inflammation and resulting DNA damage caused by excessive sun exposure and sunburns. Declining levels of lycopene are also associated with skin roughness.
Additional research shows that soy isoflavones—phytoestrogens that provide estrogen-like effects in the body—can improve the tone and texture of skin, especially in postmenopausal women.
One study followed 30 postmenopausal women who took 100 mg/day of isoflavones for six months. At the end of the study period, 23 out of the 30 participants experienced an average 9.46 percent increase in skin thickness. Furthermore, skin wrinkle measurements decreased in 21 women and the amount of collagen fibers in the dermis increased in 25 women.
Finally, omega-3 fatty acids not only reduce inflammation throughout the body, but also enhance your complexion by keeping your cells hydrated. This is especially important as we age, because the cells naturally lose their ability to hold on to water, which causes them to shrink and stiffen.
Feed Your Skin From Within
The takeaway is that no amount of creams or treatments can reduce the appearance of wrinkles if you’re not also providing your skin with the nutrients it needs to build and repair from within. So if you want to boost the health, appearance and radiance of your skin, take a high-potency multivitamin that contains vitamins C and E, and be sure to add omega-3 fatty acids, lycopene and isoflavones to your daily supplement regimen.