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Interestingly, the social-media-driven focus on youthful, perfect skin and a picture-perfect lifestyle coincides with a period in which about 20% of the population is over the age of 60. It’s no surprise that consumers are looking for ways to look and feel younger.
Unfortunately, many of the most popular supplements and skincare products tout "anti-aging" properties with little or no data to back up the claim. Do anti-aging supplements have any value? The answer is complicated, and your lifestyle is probably the biggest determinant as to how your skin ages.
The term "anti-aging" is troublingly ambiguous, interpreted in a variety of ways by consumers and providers alike. Are they intended to reverse the look of age - sagging skin and wrinkles? Slow down the aging process? Make you feel younger?
Because aging happens everywhere, not just on the skin, many products designed to address skincare concerns have little to do with aging. Additionally, there are many physiological processes that constitute the aging process. These include:
What does all of this mean for you? Essentially, unless a product addresses all of these processes, it won’t make you younger.
Still, supplements or medications can help defend from a few of the root causes and – more importantly perhaps – the visible signs of aging.
Unfortunately, there is no panacea for aging. While tech titans love to talk about their wild anti-aging routines, young-blood transfusions are… questionable.
If you want to slow down the visible signs of aging, supplements and medications aren't necessarily the best place to start. It’s entirely possible to take all of the right supplements and foods and still age prematurely. That’s because your whole lifestyle is as important, if not more than, what you eat.
What’s readily clear in the science is that stress, inflammation, and aging are intricately linked.
When you regularly get insufficient sleep, drink alcohol in excess, smoke, eat a terrible diet, or overwork (physically or mentally), your stress levels skyrocket. Aging accelerates. So can your skin's droop.
Folks, to maintain that youthful vibrancy put a premium on:
That’s the lame answer to what are the best anti-aging supplements. It’s good advice nonetheless.
So what else can you do?
Taking supplements for aging is one way to optimize your health routine. You should, however, always verify that you're buying from a reputable provider of supplements. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration struggles to stay ahead of of the proliferation of supplements on the market, and this industry is only marginally regulated depending what’s included in the supplements.
Do your own research and even talk to a doctor before starting an aggressive supplement routine. Many supplement labels suggest they may play a role in slowing aging, but these statements are not supported by the FDA.
So, where to begin?
No single ingredient is likely to radically change your health. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
But many can fill gaps in your diet or nutrition. The following are ingredients to look for from reputable supplement producers or to include in your diet.
Turmeric: Turmeric has made recent headlines for its ability to combat inflammation. Although its most direct effects decrease bodily swelling and joint inflammation, it also appears to reduce systemic inflammation and downstream effects. Studies have even suggested that curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, might help to prevent age-related cognitive decline. Turmeric is an exceptionally easily available anti-aging supplement, as it’s a common ingredient in many cuisines and is fairly inexpensive.
Sea buckthorn: This Eurasian shrub is relatively new to the western supplement world, but it’s been sought after for its anti-aging properties for centuries. Sea buckthorn is loaded with omega-7 fatty acids, which may help with cell regeneration. It also supports the body's use of vitamin E and carotenoids.
Epigallocatechin gallate: Also known as EGCG, the near-unpronounceable Epigallocatechin gallate is a natural compound found in teas that was praised for its health benefits long before it attained a scientific name. The compound has been associated with a reduction in all-cause mortality and cancer risk in older individuals. It’s also a common ingredient in skincare products, as it may protect against wrinkles.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is an essential component in many oils, nuts, and dairy products. It plays an important role in regulating cell structures and can repair damage caused by sun exposure or other stresses. Getting vitamin E from food sources or omega-3 supplements is generally safest.
Fish Oil: Fish oil is a great source of omega-3 that is usually considered the safest way to consume omega-3s. By reducing oxidative stress and fostering the body's repair mechanisms, fish oil may indirectly help to stall the aging process.
Vitamin D: The body produces vitamin D as a natural result of sun exposure. Because many people live relatively sedentary lives, however, they may develop a vitamin D deficiency. This vitamin interacts with natural hormone levels, and some studies have shown it may boost immunity. Medical professionals also consider it to be necessary for bone growth and other important functions.
Vitamin C: While most modern people get plenty of vitamin C in their diets, certain environmental factors can decrease the amount that ends up available in the skin. Vitamin C is an important antioxidant, and it’s a common ingredient in both supplements and skincare products.
Though some ingredients have already stood the scrutiny of longitudinal medical research, others are still undergoing vetting from the scientific community. Here are a few ingredients to keep your eye on as things become clearer:
Selenium: Selenium is a mineral that can be found in foods like garlic, certain nuts, seafood, and eggs. It’s associated with lower cancer risk, but several studies on its effects on cancer have been inconclusive. It’s rare for most people to be deficient in selenium, but it’s possible that consuming higher quantities produces an added benefit.
Collagen: Collagen, an important protein in many biological functions, is essential for holding the skin together. Recently, it has achieved exceptionally high popularity as a dietary supplement because of its association with healthy skin. Unfortunately, it’s still unclear whether the process of consuming collagen orally actually results in anti-aging benefits throughout the body. There are a few promising, randomized, double-blind placebo studies that suggest some collagen supplements can help, but nothing concretely defensible has emerged.
CoQ10: Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10, influences energy level and fights against oxidative stress. It exists in virtually every cell in the body and is often taken as a supplement for migraines, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. Though it plays many roles in the body, it shows promise as part of an anti-aging regimen.
One of the simplest things you can do to prevent premature aging – and recommended almost universally by dermatologists – is to use sunscreen or sunblock regularly. The sun’s UV rays are one of the most potent environmental factors that you can actually control. As much as we might all love that summer glow, excessive exposure can be one of the worst things for your skin in the long run.
It can be confusing trying to navigate the skincare industry and greater academic world for reliable information on trustworthy supplements and ingredients. If you’re looking to develop an anti-aging supplement or skincare routine, talk openly with a professional clinician. With Nava MD, you can connect with a licensed medical professional who can prescribe a customized treatment for your condition - leave the medical sifting to the pros.
Click here to get started with a trial of Nava MD's custom prescription solutions today. Dermatologist-approved prescription ingredients selected for your skin.
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