Can Antioxidants Make You Look Younger?

Can taking or using products with antioxidants really make you look younger? Which ones work?

Doctor Answers 1

Antioxidants can help but their effect is controversial

In my view antioxidants do work to help keep the skin young. However, this is another area in which the marketing is way ahead of the scientific literature.

The theory is that the sun and external toxins (air pollution, smoke etc.) place our skin and bodies under oxidative stress. It does this by producing free radicals.

Basically, free radicals are molecules lacking an electron in its outer shell. They buzz around and aggressively try to snatch an electron from another molecule. It doesn't care where it gets this electron from and will grab an electron from say, a nucleus, a cell membrane, a mitochondria.

When it hungrily steals an electron, its victim now needs an electron and grabs one wherever it can find one. This creates an unstable situation.

An anti-oxidant is essentially a reducing agent (remember those high school chemistry lessons? again it proves its value). The antioxidant will donate an electron to help the free radical gain control of itself. The free radical now does not need to take someone else's electron. He/she (or rather it) settles down. We have stability.

Our body has its own antioxidant system. However, smoking, toxin buildup, etc. can deplete our internal stores. That is why we need them from outside sources, such as food.

This underlines the value of sunscreens since the sun is responsible for much of our free radical formation.

There are so many of them out there. You could spend half your day consuming them if you ate every one.

I have been recommending the following for the last few years:

  • Acai, 500 mg. from a South American palm, has and abundance of anti-oxidants.
  • Lycopene, 10 mg. from tomatoes.
  • CoffeeBerry 400 mg. from that morning beverage loved by so many.
  • Resveratrol 40 mg. from red wine and responsible for the French paradox.
  • Zinc, Vitamin C and E

Topically, I like the aforementioned CoffeeBerry (RevaleSkin), Feverfew (found in Aveeno Ultra-calming cream) and Vitamin C and E with Ferulic acid (Skinceuticals).

As I said, there is not that much scientific evidence backing these antioxidants up as I would like to see. For instance, reservatrol and acai are all over the place on the internet, but there have not been any well done, conclusive studies on the anti-aging effectiveness on human skin I am aware of. Large studies have been done in rats, mice and cells, such as mitochondria.

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