To help fight free radical damage in the skin and other areas, it’s important to supply your body with an adequate supply of antioxidants. Caring for healthy skin is one of the many tasks on the path to wellness and anti-aging we tend to forget.
We don’t stop to think that it’s actually a critically important organ and constantly working to help protect our whole body. Skin health is important year round but can be even more so during the summer, because even just one bad sunburn can have lasting negative effects on your health for years to come. We need to take care of our skin so it can perform its many tasks to help take care of us.
At the same time, its ability to repair and renew itself diminishes with aging. Antioxidants and various enzymes become less available. This can result in the accumulation of cellular breakdown debris. Free radical damage from UV sunlight, pollutants in the air, drugs, alcohol and other factors all slowly damage skin. Of all these factors, it is excessive sun exposure (especially during the high-intensity ultraviolet hours of 10 a.m. to 2p.m.) that can produce major skin aging effects. However, we need that direct exposure optimum levels of vitamin D. Again, like anything else, balance is the key. That is, get a healthy amount of exposure to the sun but don’t go overboard, and maintain abundant skin protecting antioxidants in your diet and supplement program.
Fortunately, there are plenty of things we can do to help keep skin smooth and healthy while still receiving optimum amounts of exposure to sunlight. A large percentage of the damage your skin receives actually comes from free radical attacks. Free radicals which tend to accumulate in the skin as we age, are unstable molecules with only one electron instead of two. The production of added amounts of them can result from overexposure to the sun and, believe it or not even from over-exercising. These molecules scavenge electrons from other molecules, which causes a damaging chain reaction at the cellular level, resulting in damage to skin cells and their DNA, wrinkling, and loss in elasticity.
To help fight free radical damage in the skin and other areas, it’s important to supply your body with an adequate supply of antioxidants. Antioxidants have the ability to donate an electron to free radicals without becoming unstable themselves. This stops the damaging chain reactions. For optimum skin health, it’s especially important to include the antioxidants, vitamins A, C, and E in the diet and to supplement with them. Regularly eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables will help ensure that you receive these necessary antioxidants and other healthy-skin-promoting nutrients such as oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs), including alpha lipoic acid, lycopene, zinc and manganese.
OPCs are a specific group of antioxidants known for being especially good in promoting healthy skin.
Some of the best sources of OPCs are grape seeds, pine bark and the fibrous parts of many herbs and plants. They are incredibly versatile antioxidants, which makes them a great asset in maintaining skin health and overall health in all parts of the body. OPCs also help bind and protect collagen and elastin from the enzymes that degrade them (collagenase and elastase). This action helps keep skin smooth and pliable later in life. This is also a valuable asset of OPCs in the support of all connective tissues throughout your body, such as your ligaments, tendons and blood vessels.
Antioxidants will help keep free radicals from accumulating in the skin. But there are other steps that can be taken to help protect skin from sun damage during the summer months. Staying hydrated by drinking water and applying lotion are important when spending time outdoors because the summer heat means you will lose water as you sweat.
There is growing belief that direct sunlight is bad for skin and should be completely avoided. But without exposure to the sun, the body can’t produce vitamin D.
Exposure to the sun is absolutely necessary for physical and even mental health.
But we need to be mindful of how we are getting that exposure. For the body to manufacture vitamin D, we need about 20 minutes of exposure to unfiltered sunlight most days of the weeks. When getting that exposure, avoid peak hours, when UV radiation levels are at their highest. And once you have gotten that exposure, try to avoid prolonged exposure to the sun. Stay in the shade, wear long sleeves and hats, and carry an umbrella if you are going to be in the sun for more than 20 minutes.
The more pigmentation in the skin, the longer a person can stay out in the sun without burning. This means that people with pale complexions will get sunburned faster and more easily than will people with darker skin tones. This also means that dark-skinned people have a higher risk of developing vitamin D insufficiency. A little-known recent scientific finding is that healthy levels of vitamin D metabolites in the blood actually decrease susceptibility to sunburn.
From eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of fresh, pure water to using moisturizers and gentle exfoliates; there are many ways to help protect your skin while receiving healthy levels of sun exposure. Your skin is the largest organ of your body – your main organ of defense! – If you help protect it, it will help protect you.