Multivitamins are taken by some people daily as part of a healthy, nutrient packed diet. Products like Centrum and One A Day contain a host of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, D, calcium. Given that skin aging is in part due to toxic molecules called reactive oxygen species (ROS) that get produced from the skin’s exposure to the sun’s rays as well as normal metabolic processes, antioxidants have been touted as a popular anecdote to fend off these ROS. The most important antioxidants that neutralize ROS in human skin are vitamins C and E. However, recent studies have shown that selenium, copper, and magnesium play a role as well. It turns out that these minerals function independently from vitamins C and E, providing added protection against ROS and skin aging. What’ s more, copper functions to strengthen and repair the collagen that can be damaged and degraded from cumulative exposure to ultra violet radiation (sunlight). The food supply is partly to blame for deficiencies of selenium and copper in people, as genetically modified vegetables and changes in agricultural processes have resulted in lesser amounts of copper and selenium in the food supply. Research has shown that mineral deficiencies, even in trace amounts, can lead to premature aging of the skin. After all, the skin is the most visible organ in the body as well as the “first line of defense” against environmental insults. When the skin doesn’t have the nutrients it needs to protect against ROS and other toxic molecules generated by exposure to sunlight, it tends to be the first to slow down and age. A quick internet search can find skin care products with antioxidants, such as vitamin C and selenium, in them. Because antioxidants need to interact with cells in the second layer of skin in order to work, Dana Point Dermatology recommends against these creams because the antioxidants are too large to penetrate the skin’s outer, dead layer of skin cells, rendering them ineffective. Instead, micronutrients such as selenium are best taken through the diet (as food and/or with a multivitamin).
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