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Every winter, our skin is severely challenged to maintain its elasticity, youthfulness and glow. Lucky for us, nature has a plan to deliver inner and outer skin support during the skin-harsh winter season – with none other than its harvest!
#1: Stress Mitigation
The ravages of stress leave no stone unturned and, while every cell in the body is impacted by stress, the gut is one of the first responders. The microbes in the gut feel, interpret and process our stress, sending the appropriate emergency signal to the brain and then the body. The skin, much like the leaves on a tree, reflect our ability to effectively process stress.
Oxidation caused by stress, toxins, and excess sunlight triggers the production of free radicals – which are harmful chemicals in the body which play a large role in the break down, degeneration and premature aging of the body and skin. Stress decreases the blood supply available to the skin, which increases the production of free radicals in the skin.
While the sun may be the biggest source of free radical skin damage, research has shown that emotional and psychological stress can also muster up free radicals and damage the skin. (1)
Researchers have found that when certain antioxidants are combined together, they have a synergistic effect to reduce the reaction of skin irradiation, in a way much more potent than when individual compounds are taken alone. (2) Two Ayurvedic herbs, Ashwagandha and Amalaki, both with powerful free radical-scavenging properties, have been found to work together synergistically to reduce the risk of oxidative stress and thereby support healthier skin. (9,10)
In a double-blind randomized, placebo-controlled study, Amalaki (Phyllanthus emblica) and Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) taken in combination inhibited certain enzymes that break down collagen by 54%. Collagen is a critical protein required for the elasticity and structure of the skin. (3)
This combination also showed an inhibition of certain enzymes that break down hyaluronic acid by 86%. Hyaluronic acid is considered the skin’s natural moisturizer. (3)
Ashwagandha and Amalaki are commonly used for stress. Amalaki is touted for its natural free radical-protective properties, and Ashwagandha is an antioxidant and adaptogen, and helps the body cope with stress-related skin concerns.
#2: Good Fats
In a recent study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 2692 men and women with an average age of 74 were followed for 16 years. The group that had the highest levels of EPA and DHA fish oils in the blood had 27% increased longevity. (4)
In another study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, regular doses of fish oils in humans were evaluated for immune support against sunlight. The lead researcher, Professor Lesley Rhodes, reported that this was the first study of its kind on humans and, although the findings were small, they indicated that fish oils may provide a continuous low level of immune support against solar radiation and possible skin concerns. (5)
In addition to fish oils, there are vegetarian sources of Omega-3 fatty acids that should be included in the diet. Vegetable oils are rich in an Omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which needs to convert to docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA) in the body. However, this conversion is inefficient and unable to deliver the dosages of EPA and DHA that we get from fish oils, indicating that the benefits from vegetable-based Omega-3’s may have a different mechanism. More research is needed to understand the benefits of vegetable-based Omega-3 fatty acids.
Vegetable-Based Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
- Flax seeds and flax seed oil
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Certain algae
#3: Vitamin D3
The active form of vitamin D3 (calcitriol) penetrates the fatty phospholipid layer of the skin and migrates directly to the nucleus of the cell. Here, it binds with vitamin D3 receptors, where it controls many processes including skin health, immunity and skin cell production. (6)
The skin cells naturally die at a rate of about 30-40,000 cells per minute, allowing vitamin D3 to play a vital role in the production of specialized cells called keratinocytes, which are responsible for the production of millions of new healthy skin cells every few minutes. These vitamin D3-dependent keratinocytes create the structural framework that supports the skin tone and locks in the moisture the skin needs to stay supple and soft. Without the production of keratinocytes in the skin, the skin will dry out, wrinkle, sag and become thin and fragile. (6)
Vitamin D3 serves as a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from free radical damage. In fact, in one study, vitamin D3 was responsible for the production of enzymes that protected against free radicals and reduced lipid peroxidation (one of the most common causes of free radicals). (7,11)
Humans were designed to get most of their vitamin D3 by getting adequate sun exposure in the summer months. UVB radiation from the sun combines with the natural cholesterol on the skin and creates pre-vitamin D on the skin. Within about an hour, this pre-vitamin D converts to vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol (the supplemental vitamin D3), where it is transported and stored in the liver. When needed, it is shipped to the kidneys, where it is converted into the super active form of vitamin D3 called calcitriol, where it then re-enters the bloodstream as the active form of vitamin D3 to be used throughout the body.
The skin is the last tissue of the body to receive the circulating vitamin D, which is why it is so important to supplement during the winter months when vitamin D3 levels are usually at their lowest. This is even more important as we age, because the skin slowly loses its ability to convert the UVB rays to pre-vitamin D in the elderly. For optimal vitamin D function, it is suggested to keep serum vitamin D3 levels at or above 80mg/mL. (12)
Why Topical Vitamin D3 is in LifeSpa Skin Care Products
New research on has shown that the topical application of vitamin D3 on the skin increases the proliferation of peptides on the skin’s surface that defend against daily microbial assault and reduce the appearance of prematurely aging skin. (8) Since the skin is the last to receive the needed vitamin D, consider skin care products that contain vitamin D, or add a few drops of our Liquid Sun Vitamin D serum to your favorite skin care product.