Antioxidants, vitamins and minerals slow doing the aging process on the body by neutralizing free radicals and oxidants -- and may protect you from a host of diseases while they are at it. Everything from Alzheimer's Disease to Cancer have been shown to respond positively to treatment with antioxidants, and that's not all. Studies show antioxidants also improve the health and appearance of your skin. While antioxidants shouldn't be treated as a panacea or a cure-all, they certainly deserve the attention that they are receiving.
How does Anti-Aging Nutrition Work?
Free radicals are imbalanced atoms that are ever present in the environment, and in our own bodies. We produce free radicals during exercise, detoxification, and times of increased stress. Pollution, food preservatives, toxins, heavy metals and heat-damaged oils may also create more free radicals. While the human body can handle a certain amount of free radical activity on its own, over time free radicals cause small amounts of chronic damage to our tissues at the cellular level, as the free radicals rip into us in attempt to correct their own imbalanced atoms. Age-related health problems, including cancer, stroke, high cholesterol and neuro-degenerative illness, have all been linked with an increased free radical load inside the body.
Do We Need To Buy Antioxidants?
Humans produce their own chemical antioxidants, but with modern day lifestyle these protective agents are often not enough. Premature aging is one of the signs that our bodies simply cannot handle the constant onslaught of chemical attack it has to defend against each day. Cells and tissues are becoming tired, and require extra support. It is for this reason that scientists and doctors have increased their research into the effects of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that slow down the aging process. Many of these health-promoting nutrients not only protect against oxidative and free radical damage, but have a wide range of other therapeutic and medicinal properties as well.
Antioxidants help to protect the health and youth of tissues both inside the body and outside the body. Skin is the largest organ of the human body, and provides one of the most obvious ways of determining the rate at which you are aging. Skin is exposed to oxygen, pollution, UV rays from the sun, and even chemicals from body care and beauty products that may cause irritation and tissue damage at a small scale.
When considering both inner and outer health, anti-aging nutrition almost always points towards vitamin C. Up to 30% of all vitamin C in the body is found in the skin, as it is the most vital nutrient for defending against solar radiation and photodamage. It is also the most important nutrient for collagen synthesis, which makes skin strong, smooth and healthy.
In a 6-month clinical trial funded by the University of Franche-Comté in France, researchers found that a topical cream containing 5% vitamin C significantly improved the integrity, density and health of the participant's skin, while also reducing wrinkles.
Vitamin B is yet another vitamin known for having holistic anti-aging properties. Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, has been well researched for its effects in anxiety, depression and mood disorders, as well as cholesterol and heart health.
According to researchers from Miami Valley Laboratories in the U.S.A., niacin also helps to prevent visible aging on the facial skin cells. During their 6-week study with 50 female participants, niacin creams significantly reduced fine lines, wrinkles, sun spots, blotches, elasticity, and sallow skin. Similar to vitamin C, niacin is another vitamin and antioxidant that has beneficial properties both for health and for visible anti-aging.
Vitamin D is a fascinating vitamin in that humans require exposure to UV light in order to manufacture adequate levels of vitamin D. Most people concerned about premature aging and photodamaged skin might avoid the sun all-together. On the contrary, not getting enough sunlight might not only cause premature aging, but also but you at risk to a variety of diseases. Vitamin D is important for anti-aging nutrition and preventing various types of cancer, enhancing immune function, balancing mood and hormone levels, and promoting tissue regeneration.
Scientists from the University of Zaragoza in Spain confirmed that vitamin D has a powerful influence on aging, as low levels of vitamin D were associated with an increased risk of early mortality from all causes. While protecting against photodamage from the sun's rays is important for maintaining the youth of skin, becoming deficient in vitamin D by overdoing sunscreen may be just as bad.
Selenium and Zinc
Similar to vitamin D, other vitamins, minerals and antioxidants with a specific action on the immune system are being found to reduce the risk of early mortality from a range of causes. Among these, zinc and selenium have the most significant benefits. Both are stimulants of specific and non-specific immune function, meaning they defend against general microbes and free radicals, as well as specific strains of viruses and bacteria. In addition, zinc and selenium reduce the risk of various forms of cancer.
In a study on selenium funded by the University of Arizona, researchers found that adequate dietary levels of selenium reduced the risk of all types of cancer significantly. Selenium also reduces the rate of mortality in cancer patients, especially patients suffering from prostate cancer (71%), oesophageal cancer (67%), lung cancer (41%) and colon cancer (62%). Zinc has shown in various studies to reduce the risk of these same types of cancer as well, and is an important factor in anti-aging nutrition for reproductive health in men and women.