The sun is out! Protect your skin from photoaging with the right vitamins and minerals.
Up to 90% of the visible signs of aging — and most types of skin cancer — are caused by the sun's UV rays. Long-term sun exposure can cause premature aging of the skin, including wrinkles, pigmentation, and sunspots. This is known as photoaging, and the rate at which it happens is influenced by our genes.
How does photoaging happen?
Photoaging is the premature aging of the skin due to repeated exposure to UV radiation. UV radiation causes DNA damage and oxidative stress, a situation in which the production of harmful free radicals overwhelms the body’s ability to neutralize them using antioxidants. In order for the body to protect itself from oxidative stress, the skin produces several enzymes built with antioxidants including vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, iron, and selenium.
While modest UV exposure can prompt the body to increase epidermal thickness, which helps to protect from further UV damage, prolonged exposure overwhelms the skin’s antioxidant defense system. This damage of overexposure, referred to as photoaging, manifests as facial pigmented spots and wrinkles. It is the result of both diminished collagen production (needed to increase epidermal thickness) and diminished antioxidant activity.
Check your Skin Care Reports for the Photoaging, Facial Pigmented Spots, and Skin Antioxidant Deficiency traits.
The Importance of Antioxidants
Our bodies produce a number of antioxidative and detoxifying enzymes, such as superoxide dismutases (SODs), to fight free radicals and prevent damage to our skin. However, in order to work properly, SODs require certain minerals, such as copper and zinc, to act as cofactors. To achieve maximum protective capacity, it is important to ensure adequate daily intake of these minerals. This daily need may be higher if you have certain genetic variants that are associated with copper or zinc deficiency.
Check your Nutrition Reports for these traits!
Additionally, genetic variations in the NRF2, SOD2, and CAT genes have been associated with reduced antioxidant activity in cells throughout the body and an increased risk of damage to lipids and proteins in the skin. It is even more harmful for individuals with these genetic variants to have reduced dietary intake of antioxidants — i.e. to not get the recommended FIVE daily servings of vegetables and fruits.
Do you need to keep a close eye on your vegetable intake? Check your risk of “Skin Antioxidant Deficiency.”
Vitamins E and K Fight Photoaging
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant which absorbs UV rays from the sun to protect your skin, thus preventing wrinkles, dark spots, and certain types of skin cancer. It is an essential ingredient in the sebum, the oil secreted by the skin for protection and hydration. Vitamin E’s anti-inflammatory and hydrating properties keep the skin looking youthful. In order to maximize its benefits as an antioxidant, make sure to get enough vitamin C and B3 as well because their presence enhances vitamin E’s activity.
Vitamin E: How Much and From Where? Check this handy guide.
While vitamin E prevents photoaging by acting as an antioxidant, vitamin K works to treat other skin troubles to keep the skin healthy and youthful, minimizing the effects of photoaging. Its main functions as a vitamin are blood clotting to heal wounds and strengthening capillaries to heal bruises. Vitamin K additionally helps treat spider veins, stretch marks, and dark spots, while increasing circulation to reduce undereye darkness and puffiness. Vitamin K: How Much and From Where? Check this handy guide.
Fun fact: A recent study found that the MC1R gene, which is responsible for pale skin and red hair, is also linked to increased photoaging.
This gene codes for a protein that plays a role in normal pigmentation. It is found on the surface of melanocytes, which are cells responsible for the production of melanin — the pigment giving skin, hair, and eyes their colour. There are 2 types of melanin produced: eumelanin and pheomelanin. People with more eumelanin tend to have brown or black hair and skin that tans easily. On the other hand, people with more pheomelanin production tend to have blonde or red hair, freckles, and less protection from UV rays and photoaging. One gene responsible for the synthesis of pheomelanin is the ASIP gene. Having variants of this gene could lead to an increased risk of facial pigmented spots with sun exposure, as it would lead to the clumping of melanin to form areas of hyperpigmentation. [NIH]
If you are worried about photoaging, protect yourself! By having a diet with sufficient vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants for your genetic makeup, you can reduce your the risk of photoaging and have plenty of fun outside this summer. ??
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