Anti-aging & Cosmeceutical Corner

Anti-Aging Supplements Finally Come of Age

By Navin M. Geria, Senior Technical Advisor and Principal Doctors Skin Prescription | February 12, 2013

On Jan. 1, no matter what the year, nearly everyone makes a resolution to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Healthier living and proactive health management are two megatrends impacting the supplement industry. The wealth of knowledge available to the average consumer is greater today than it has ever been before. Consumers are paying attention to their outward appearance and resolving to do something to improving it. This focus creates opportunities for supplement manufacturers. According to Euromonitor International, despite some negative press reports regarding adverse health effects of consuming vitamins, sales of vitamins and dietary supplements are expected to grow 4% to reach $26.8 billion by 2016.

This column will briefly review anti-aging supplements that are widely recognized for slowing down the aging process and also keep skin younger and healthier-looking. The theory that supplements don’t absorb well and are thus, a waste of money is not accurate. It appears that modern food processing methods, poor dietary choices, atmospheric pollution and stressful living may inhibit the body’s ability to assimilate all of the nutrients that are required for the maintenance of good health, which explains, consumers growing interest in this growing, vibrant category. Although none of the supplements have been proven to slow aging, they are recommended by medical authorities on the basis of suggestive scientific evidence that supplements significantly inhibit inflammatory reactions and block damaging free radicals that are linked to the aging process.

Açai is rich in antioxidants, catechins, procyanidins, sterols and phenolic acids.

Açai: This antioxidant-rich, energy-boosting fruit is known for its healing and immune-stimulating benefits. It improves heart health, aids in weight loss and helps with digestive problems. Açai is rich in antioxidants, catechins, procyanidins, sterols and phenolic acids. It protects against oxidative damage, lipid peroxidation, reduces ROS and pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Acetyl-L-Carnitine Arginate: The amino acid acetyl-L-carnitine boosts mitochondrial energy production through its ability to facilitate fatty acid transport and oxidation in the cell. Acetyl-L-Carnitine Arginate is a patented form of carnitine that stimulates the growth of neurites in the brain.

Alpha Lipoic Acid: This ingredient is a powerful antioxidant that promotes healthy cell function, boosts skin’s radiance and minimizes enlarged pores and surface imperfections. It is taken orally and applied topically. Alpha lipoic acid is also effective in recycling other antioxidants such as vitamin E back into their original form after they detoxify free radicals. There also is evidence that alpha lipoic acid can reduce the damage caused by excess glucose in the blood.

L-Alpha-glycerylphosphorylcho-line (GPC): GPC is a byproduct of phosphatidylcholine, which helps to boost acetylcholine. It aids in the synthesis of several brain phospholipids, which increases the availability of acetylcholine in various brain tissues. The GPC form of choline has been shown in studies to help protect against cognitive decline that normally occurs with aging.

Carnosine: Found both in food and in the human body, carnosine levels decline with age. Aging causes irreversible damage to the body’s proteins. The underlying mechanism behind this damage is glycation, which causes wrinkles. Carnosine is a unique dipeptide that interferes with the glycation process, conferring anti-aging skin benefits.

Coenzyme Q10: This is an essential component of healthy mitochondrial function. Mitochondria are power centers within cells that generate energy throughout the body where it facilitates and regulates the oxidation of fats and sugars into energy. Most of the cellular energy is produced by mitochondria. With age, cellular mitochondria levels decrease, and cause other health maladies essentially due to mitochondrial disorders.

Fish oil has a wide range of beauty benefits.
Fish Oil: This oil is a most popular dietary supplement. Studies on omega-3 fatty acids are so important that a National Institute of Health report noted that fish oil can help reduce death caused by heart disease. The FDA itself states supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of ecosopentanoic acid (EPA) and DHA omega-3-fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease as they fight free radicals and inflammation. Fish oil helps skin retain moisture and protect it from sunburn. There are several mechanisms attributed to fish oil’s beneficial effects. The latest government report cites the triglyceride-lowering effects of fish oil on reducing heart and blood vessel disorders. Another beneficial mechanism of fish oil is to protect healthy blood flow in arteries.

Grape Seed Extract: This extract is the richest source of oligomeric proanthocyanidin (OPC), making it one of the most powerful antioxidants. It is rich in polyphenols. It helps protect cells from free radical damage and also promotes healthy blood circulation. It promotes brain, skin and eye health and it improves cardiac health and mental alertness.

Green Tea Extract: What makes green tea extract such an important nutrient is the large volume of published scientific findings that validate its multiple biological benefits. The most significant findings involve studies showing that green tea extract helps maintain cellular DNA and membrane structural integrity. Decades of research shows that green tea inhibits the development of undesirable cell colonies. The active constituents in green tea are powerful antioxidants called polyphenols (catechins) and flavonols. Several catechins are present in green tea and account for the bulk of favorable research reports. Epigallocatechin (EGCG) is the most powerful of these catechins. EGCG functions as an antioxidant that is about 25-100 times more potent than vitamins C and E. Green tea’s high antioxidant activity helps protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.

Lutein/Zeaxanthin: These are potent antioxidant carotenoids found in green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale and collard greens. They offer eye and skin health benefits, such as improving skin elasticity and hydration. Daily intake of 6-10mg may be beneficial.

Lycopene: Lycopene is a type of carotenoid found naturally in foods that are red, such as tomatoes, watermelon, apricots, pink grapefruit and guava. It helps promote smoother, younger looking skin, and high levels of lycopene in the skin block UV rays to some degree. Lycopene also helps to improve cell metabolism and cell communication. The daily requirement is between 25-75mg a day.

Melatonin: Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland, which is located beneath the brain. Melatonin is a highly potent antioxidant, and has been described as the pacemaker of the aging clock in humans. It is released every night as part of our time-dependent biorhythms to help induce sleep and recuperate from fatigue. Published studies indicate the importance of maintaining youthful levels of melatonin to protect against age-related degenerative diseases.

Polypodium leucotomos: This is a phenolic antioxidant with photo-protective, anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating effects. In a study of 21 human subjects, polypodium leucotomos administered orally or topically provided photo-protection to skin.

Pycnogenol: This ingredient has a range of antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, photo-protective, anti-carcinogenic effects. Oral supplements taken for eight weeks reduced UV-induced cutaneous erythema.

Quercetin: A bioflavanoid, providing body with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant protection, quercetin is found in many plants such as black tea, broccoli, onions, red apples and red wine. Ideally, 100-250mg of this nutrient should be taken three times a day.

Resveratrol: Resveratrol packs a powerful antioxidant punch to soothe inflammation, protect skin against environmental damage and fight premature aging. It is said to offer a broad range of health benefits. It hydrates, firms and lifts the skin according to some research studies. It is found in red grape skin, raspberries and mulberries.

Vitamin C: This well-known vitamin improves the appearance of sun-damaged skin. It reduces inflammation, promotes collagen production and strengthens skin’s barrier response. This water-soluble antioxidant is not produced by the body. Vitamin C reduces melanin formation via tyrosinase inhibition.

The only way to flawless skin is to keep the inside of the body healthy. Skin’s endogenous supply of antioxidants is reinforced by orally or topically administered antioxidants, thus combating an overload of oxidative stress. Regular exercise also has an anti-aging effect and could delay premature aging.
As a general rule, it is preferable to eat healthy food and try taking supplements for maintenance of good health before considering drugs for any minor ailments. Because supplements are taken orally, their activity is systemic, providing skin benefits.

No one can rewind time, nor can anyone reverse the ravages that the aging process puts on our bodies. The only sensible thing we can do to manage the aging process is to make intelligent decisions about what we consume, how we protect ourselves from UV and how we live.
Navin M. Geria
Senior Technical Advisor and Principal
Doctors Skin Prescription

Navin Geria, ex-Pfizer Research Fellow, is senior technical advisor and principal of the dermatological research company, Doctors Skin Prescription (DSP), Boston, founded by dermatologist David J. Goldberg M.D.J.D. and plastic surgeon William P. Adams M.D.F.A.C.S. Geria has more than 30 years of experience in the personal care industry and was previously with Clairol, Warner-Lambert, Schick, Bristol-Myers and most recently SpaDermaceuticals. He has earned nearly 20 US patents, has been published extensively and has been both a speaker and a moderator at cosmetic industry events.