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Top 3 Antioxidant Supplements to Protect Aging Skin from The Sun

Evidence-based Reviewed Article

An image of a woman taking supplementsFree radicals constantly bombard our bodies. They arise from the air we breathe to the food we eat. Free radicals are unstable molecules that contain oxygen, and they can cause oxidative stress at a cellular level by stealing electrons from your cells. What is more, they can trigger the body’s inflammatory response. And, if not addressed, this inflammatory response could result in a variety of health issues, including increased vulnerability to fine lines, wrinkles, and skin damage from the sun. Antioxidant supplements may help fight free radicals and protect your skin.

Your Inflammatory Response to Free Radicals

Inflammation is your body’s response to stress. Once your brain identifies stress, the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) axis sends chemical messengers to various parts of your body to deal with this. This results in the activation of your NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) stress response. All organs and circuits in your body respond to your NEM. As a result of the NEM activation, your automatic immune response also kicks in, with inflammation resulting.

Free radicals, due to their action on your body, are stressors, and your body’s response to them is inflammation. While free radicals may arise from sources like medication, pollution, or radiation, they also result from normal cell metabolism.

The three body systems most directly influencing your inflammation circuit include the immune system, gastrointestinal tract (gut), and microbiome.

Normally, inflammation is a good thing. It shows your body is fighting against an intruder, injury, or toxin. But sometimes a dysregulation of your inflammation circuit occurs and the inflammation can persist long-term. In such cases, you may start developing various health issues that seem unrelated. Antioxidant supplements may help you deal with these issues in some cases.

Health Issues Linked to Inflammation

The most common health issues associated with inflammation include:

  • Autoimmune disorders, e.g., rheumatoid arthritis
  • Gastrointestinal disorders, e.g., inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), ulcerative colitis, and Crohn’s disease
  • Lung issues like asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Cardiovascular conditions, e.g., heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Skin aging, i.e., the development of fine lines or wrinkles, sagging skin, increased dark spots, and a dull and/or even skin tone
  • Mental health issues
  • Certain types of cancer

Inflammation and Adrenal Function

Many of the health issues mentioned share a link with compromised adrenal function, as does chronic inflammation. Stress, in general, as well as the stress caused by inflammation, can impact adrenal function. Your adrenal glands form part of your HPA axis and, as part of your body’s NEM stress response, produce stress hormones like cortisol.

The continuous production of stress hormones can cause a hormone imbalance. This, in turn, could increase oxidative stress in your body. Ideally, one should look at nutrition to support adrenal health while dealing with oxidative stress.3 Many people, however, may rely on antioxidant supplements to fulfill this role.

Why Use Antioxidant Supplements?

An image of 4 spoons with different supplementsThe term oxidation describes the action of free radicals on the body. The process causes damage to your cell membranes as well as other structures. These include your DNA, cellular proteins, and lipids. This results from unstable molecules, i.e., free radicals, forming due to the metabolization of oxygen. The free radicals, due to being unstable, steal electrons from other molecules resulting in damage.

Antioxidants, on the other hand, may either inhibit the oxidation process1 or remove oxidizing agents where they occur in your body.

We find these antioxidants in the foods we eat. However, many people do not eat enough of the right types of foods to have enough of them in their bodies. Antioxidant supplements may bridge this gap.

The Rise of Antioxidants Supplements and Food Additives

Before the 1990’s, not many people spoke about free radical damage and antioxidants. But then studies started coming along showing that, when people ate too little of certain fruits and vegetables containing antioxidants, they started developing health issues. Research then started on the uses and benefits of individual antioxidants. This led to the market opening wide for antioxidant supplements.

These days you find antioxidant supplements added to many foods. These include cereals, energy drinks, and certain processed foods.

Furthermore, these supplemental additives are touted as being able to prevent a large variety of health issues, like memory loss, heart disease, and even cancer. And while they may help promote better health when taken in a natural form, this is not so likely when they are packed into sugary, chemical-laden processed foods.

Antioxidant Supplement Considerations

Please note that high doses of these supplements may end up doing more harm than good. So, when considering antioxidant supplements, please consider following a diet full of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables first. This is the healthiest and safest way to get these nutrients.

In addition, when considering sunscreens or facial products, keep in mind that whatever you take internally will work through your skin as well. Very high levels of antioxidants applied to your skin may not give you much advantage.

Always talk to a healthcare provider before taking any form of supplements. Also, if you have problematic skin, talk to a healthcare provider well-versed in skin issues. Their advice may prove best when it comes to dealing with skin problems. Certain antioxidant creams may exacerbate certain skin issues.

Antioxidant Supplements for Skin Health

Many antioxidant supplements may help reduce the effects of free radicals on your skin and slow down the aging process. The top three antioxidants for your skin are vitamin E, C, and beta-carotene. We'll look at how they help in detail below.

Vitamin E: One of the Most Well-Known Antioxidant Supplements

Certain foods like nuts and seeds contain a significant amount of vitamin E, as do green leafy vegetables. This antioxidant may help prevent or reverse complications associated with various health issues. The vitamin has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and promotes a healthy immune system.4

Vitamin E is also one of the antioxidant supplements most used in skin care products. For your skin, the vitamin may have the following benefits:

  • The antioxidant properties when applied on the skin may reduce the effect of free radicals, like pollution, on your skin. It may also help reduce the appearance of fine lines and reduce skin irritation.
  • The vitamin helps to strengthen your skin barrier which may help improve your skin’s hydration and reduce sensitivity to external factors.
  • Vitamin E’s action on the skin may help speed the regeneration of new skin cells. This may promote a glowing, youthful look.
  • The vitamin may play a role in addressing hyperpigmentation spots, which result from sun damage.
  • Vitamin E absorbs UV light, helping to prevent skin damage and early signs of aging like wrinkles. Taken together with vitamin C, you may be able to increase the amount of time spent in the sun without the need for SPF protection.
  • Vitamin E may help reduce acne scarring and prevent new acne scars from forming.

Vitamin E as Part of Your Diet

An image of two Vitamin E capsulesEating foods rich in vitamin E may help improve immune system function and help your body fight off disease. Foods high in vitamin E may also promote better skin and eye health. Unfortunately, our body’s vitamin E levels tend to decrease as we age. Increasing the amount of foods rich in this vitamin in your diet may help, as may the use of vitamin E supplements.

Vitamin E Supplements

CannaPlex E is a supplement high in vitamin E and other natural ingredients that may help with the issues surrounding aging skin. You could also consider LipoNano Glutathione. This supplement, high in vitamin E and vitamin B12, promotes detoxification, supports liver function, and protects your body against oxidative stress.

Vitamin E Risks and Considerations

Taking vitamin E as a supplement in high doses could increase the risk of bleeding, muscle weakness, nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue in some people. This is very rare, however.

Vitamin C: One of the Most Common Antioxidant Supplements

Vitamin C not only protects your body against the effect of harmful free radicals but boosts your immune system function as well. Your body also needs vitamin C to help form and maintain healthy bones, cartilage, blood vessels, and skin. Regarding skin health, vitamin C may:

  • Promote the production of collagen – reduced collagen production, synonymous with the aging process, may cause the skin to sag.
  • When used together with vitamin E, it may increase the time you can spend in the sun before sunburn and sun damage occurs.
  • It can reduce redness, hyperpigmentation, and the appearance of dark circles under the eyes.
  • Help wounds heal at a quicker rate.

Vitamin C as Part of Your Diet

Increasing your vitamin C intake through the foods you eat is the healthiest way to ensure you reap the benefits of this vitamin. Foods high in vitamin C include the following:

  • Citrus fruits, e.g., oranges and lemons
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes
  • Blackcurrants
  • strawberries

Vitamin C Supplements

A skincare product like Glutathione Gold C is high in vitamin C as well as other beneficial, natural products that promote healthy skin. You could also consider Adrenal Collagen Rebuilder. This supplement is not only high in vitamin C, but also other ingredients that focus on repairing skin and promoting collagen production. Another supplement to consider is LipoNano C. High in vitamin C, it is also great at promoting adrenal health.

Vitamin C Risks and Considerations

Vitamin C is usually considered safe, even at high doses. However, in some people high doses may result in symptoms like:

  • Heartburn, stomach cramps, and/or bloating
  • Nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea

Beta-Carotene: The "Healthy" Antioxidant Supplement

Beta-carotene is also one of the best antioxidant supplements for your skin. Not only does a beta-carotene supplement protect your body from free radicals, but it is also known for its immunomodulatory activities.

When it comes to skin help, this supplement has many benefits. For example:

  • It reduces skin pigmentation in people with melasma (darker skin patches usually on the face).
  • It increases pigmentation in people with vitiligo (skin patches without any pigmentation).
  • The vitamin may also boost collagen production.
  • It helps to repair skin and help slow down the aging process.
  • Beta-carotene may reduce sun sensitivity in people with certain skin issues.

Beta-Carotene in Your Diet

Generally speaking, foods high in beta-carotene have intense color. These foods are usually orange, yellow, and green. Good examples of these foods include:

  • An image of a bundle of carrotsCarrots
  • Lettuce
  • Broccoli
  • Winter squash
  • Cantaloupe
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potatoes

Beta-Carotene Risks

Do take note, however, that people with high alcohol consumption or who smoke should not take this supplement without their doctor’s advisement. This is because beta-carotene may increase the risk of heart disease and cancer in certain groups.

Antioxidant Creams for Sun Exposure

In addition to the above antioxidant supplements, some antioxidant creams can also help protect the skin.

Sun exposure is the main source of free radical damage to the skin. UV rays can cause oxidative stress that activates certain enzymes in the skin. These enzymes break down your skin’s collagen and damage cells’ DNA. This may result in the signs associated with premature aging.2

Many topical creams have a UV-blocking action and/or antioxidant ingredients to help fight premature aging. One such formula is HSN Formula, which promotes healthy skin, hair, and nails.

In Closing

While the foods you eat should ideally provide your body with the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs to keep you healthy, antioxidant supplements may also play a beneficial role. This is particularly the case when trying to deal with skin issues or the effects of the sun’s UV rays and their role in premature aging.

Strong antioxidant supplements like vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene have proven effective in this regard. But, as with any type of supplement, we advise you to first talk to your healthcare provider before embarking on a course. If you would like help with supplementation, give Dr. Lam's team a call at +1 (626) 571-1234 and we can offer a free initial phone consultation to get you started on your health journey.

© Copyright 2024 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
References

Salehi, Bahare, et al. “Antioxidants: Positive or Negative Actors?” Biomolecules, vol. 124, no. 4, 25 Oct. 2018, https://doi.org/10.3390/biom8040124.

Lohan, Silke B., et al. “Switching From Healthy to Unhealthy Oxidative Stress – Does the Radical Type Can Be Used as an Indicator?” Free Radical Biology and Medicine, vol. 401–411, 1 Jan. 2021, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.freeradbiomed.2020.10.319.

Patani, Anil, et al. “Harnessing the Power of Nutritional Antioxidants Against Adrenal Hormone Imbalance-associated Oxidative Stress.” Frontiers in Endocrinology, vol. 14, 30 Nov. 2023, https://doi.org/10.3389/fendo.2023.1271521.

Rizvi, Saliha. “The Role of Vitamin E in Human Health and Some Diseases.” PubMed Central (PMC), 1 May 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3997530/#:~:text=Vitamin%20E%20has%20been%20found,and%20its%20immune%2Denhancing%20activity.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

Yes, antioxidant supplements do support adrenal fatigue. They fight free radicals and many have anti-inflammatory properties. The presence of free radicals and inflammation put added stress on the adrenals. They also support your body's stress response.

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