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The Science of Aging and What It Means for Skincare

If one thing is certain in life, it’s that nothing is permanent. 

The aging process is unavoidable folks. While there’s still so much that scientists don’t understand about the science of aging or why it happens, significant strides are being made in medicine and research to help understand cellular decline and its role in human longevity.

Currently, researchers know that age-associated decline of the cells begins around the age of 40, and the process seems to accelerate at 60 and beyond. The current research is focused on identifying how cellular processes change during aging and how cellular health might contribute to a more satisfactory and slower or less progressive aging process.

The Cellular Powerhouse Known As Mitochondria

As researchers continue to dig into the specific mechanisms of aging, one thing is becoming abundantly clear: Mitochondrial health plays a significant role in aging and cellular health. Mitochondria are essential to cellular function and pivotal to a healthy aging process. As an integral component of the cell structure, mitochondria contribute to an individual’s energy and endurance levels as well as stamina and overall strength.

The idea then is how or if sustaining the health of this cellular powerhouse is possible.

As the driving force of cellular energy, mitochondria play a critical role in the science of aging. While a possible solution to aging or longevity would seem to be simply producing more healthy mitochondria, these structures also rely on the sustainability of other mechanisms, which are subject to the same natural decline associated with aging. In other words, replacing one part doesn’t fix the whole situation.

Understanding the aging process and the decline of cellular function depends on understanding these other cellular mechanisms and how they contribute to declining health.

3 Mechanisms Contributing to Aging

As researchers continue to hone in on the contributing factors for aging, they’ve pinpointed three mechanisms believed to play outstanding roles:

  1. Declining mitochondrial health
  2. Declining NAD+
  3. Declining glutathione levels

While the speed of aging differs based on the health, age, and even fitness level of the individual, researchers are confident that each of these three mechanisms contributes to accelerated aging as they decline.

The Role of Mitochondria and Energy

These tiny conversion factories help produce enough energy to keep cells performing optimally. The primary role of mitochondria is to convert nutrients from human diet and ATP from oxygen. Both activities are vital to properly functioning cells. 

Recent understanding about the roles of mitochondria and their decline beginning in middle age have led to a better understanding of the science of aging. Through study, scientists have found the vast majority of mitochondria in the body collect in areas where energy is most necessary, such as the heart, brain, muscles, liver, and kidneys. Unfortunately, as other mechanisms decline with age, mitochondria do as well, leading to increased risk of disease and health conditions affecting these vital organs.

NAD and Its Vital Role in the Body

Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) is essential to cellular function and life. The compound is needed for the vital functions of the body: eating, drinking, thinking, walking, and breathing. Without NAD, forget about aging — life itself would be impossible!

Few molecules can be referred to as life-sustaining, but without NAD, essential enzymes could not complete their duties. NAD also plays a significant role in mitochondrial function, cellular repair, skeletal and muscle development, and metabolic health.

Despite the significance of NAD, human bodies cannot maintain youthful production levels as they age. In fact, there comes a point when production and use are out of balance. People lose about 50% of their NAD levels by the time they reach middle age, meaning their bodies are not supplying enough NAD to maintain optimal function each day. With declining levels of NAD, people might experience any of several symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Slow recovery after injury
  • Loss of energy
  • Frailty

Researchers are still not positive about the causes of NAD decline. Scientists suspect aging cells cannot produce the compound, or an interaction between immune cells and inflammation results in the overconsumption of NAD+, leading to a decline.

Glutathione, the Master Antioxidant

Most people know antioxidants are beneficial for overall well-being, but few have ever heard of glutathione. This one antioxidant is the most powerful in your body, and it’s naturally occurring. It has several jobs in the body, specifically as it relates to the cells:

  • Maintains healthy immune function
  • Promotes mitochondrial health
  • Protects against oxidative damage and stress

Glutathione is crucial to healthy aging, but the problem is the inevitable decline of this tripeptide. As a natural product of the amino acids glutamic acid, cysteine, and glycine, the special molecule can only be produced as long as each of these amino acids is present in sufficient amounts in the body. Unfortunately, after middle age, these amino acids decline, resulting in a natural decline in glutathione too.

The decline creates an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals — oxygen-containing molecules. The increasing presence of free radicals in an aging bodily system can lead to oxidative stress, leading to damage of cells and organs.

Ultimately, the decline of glutathione results in declines in mitochondrial function, detoxification, cellular protection, and immune function. The decline can also lead to an increase in inflammation. According to the science of aging, lower levels of this powerful antioxidant can cause a decline in organ function and increased health risks as people age.

Aging Beautifully and Naturally, With Help

While there is no magic pill to halt the aging process (though scientists and biotechnology companies are working on it), there’s no reason people can’t slow the inevitable decline. It’s true that research has yet to provide insight into successfully and permanently reversing aging, but many of the discoveries have provided incredible insight into prolonging health and beauty.

Healthy aging is largely focused on the continued function of critical organs and the sustained mobility and strength of muscles, joints, and bones. That includes the largest organ in the entire body: the skin.

Through research and study, scientists have found treatments like retinoids — tretinoin, to be exact — that help to reinvigorate the typical mitochondrial process, resulting in more rapid cellular turnover. This vitamin A derivative can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles, for instance, for a more youthful look.

Another discovery working miracles for the skin is niacinamide, a vitamin B-3 derivative. As noted, the natural decline in mitochondrial processes and mechanisms can result in an increase of free radicals and oxidative stress. Niacinamide helps to strengthen skin and repel free radicals, potentially reversing signs of aging.

The science of aging is continually making strides toward longevity. While no one can predict the number of days they get on this planet, it’s possible to take advantage of the current science to prolong your health and look.

The professionals at Nava MD can help you access custom prescription skincare treatments from the comfort of home, if prescribed. Get anti-aging treatments containing tretinoin and more, with the help of a dermatologist via Nava MD’s online consultation process. 

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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice.
Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency