The magnificent seven
Our bodies make a variety of antioxidants, like superoxide dismutase that break down the free radicals that can form during normal cell metabolism.
Unfortunately, no matter how much overtime they put in, internally produced antioxidants can’t battle all the free radicals flying around, especially in today’s world. Again, evolution helps us out, our bodies evolved to take advantage of protective substances found in the foods available to us.
These seven nutrients have the most powerful impact on keeping the skin in top condition.
Selenium: The trace mineral acts as an antioxidant itself and speeds up your body’s natural antioxidant-making process. In a study at Cornell University of 1,300 patients with skin cancer, those who got 200 micrograms of selenium daily for 10 years reduced their risk of dying from any cancer by 18 percent, compared with those who took a placebo.
Food sources: Brazil nuts, snapper fish and shrimp.
Vitamin E: Fights heart disease, boosts immunity, and helps stop cell damage that leads to skin cancer. In a Korean study, mice exposed to ultraviolet sunlight were less likely to wrinkle when they consumed vitamin E, along with other antioxidants.
Food sources: Sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, and peanut butter.
Vitamin C: It’s not just for colds anymore. Now it protects your DNA and helps your body use vitamin E more efficiently. Research has shown that C has a talent for protecting blood vessels and reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. In a six-year study of 5,197 people at the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, those who consumed the highest amounts of vitamin C had the lowest risk of stroke.
Food sources:Papaya, pepper/paprika and broccoli.
Carotenoids: This pigment helps protect your eyes and skin from sun damage. In a study in the Netherlands, consumption of beta-carotene, one of many carotenoids, was found to reduce the risk of macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness.
Food sources: Carrots, butternut squash, and spinach.
Isothiocyanates: In a study of more than 1,400 people at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, researchers found that people who ate more isothiocyanate-rich foods reduced their risk of bladder cancer by 29 percent.
Food sources: Broccoli, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower.
Polyphenols: Researchers at Columbia University studied 980 people and found that those who drank up to three glasses per day of wine, rich in flavonoids, a polyphenol, were less likely to develop memory-loss problems such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Food sources: red wine, tea and coffee.
Coenzyme Q10: and CoQ10 is a cell-protecting machine. It’s also been linked with the prevention of migraines, which it may accomplish by guarding brain cells. In a study of 42 migraine patients in Zurich, those who took CoQ10 had half as many headaches over three months as those who took a efak pill.
Food sources: Lean beef, chicken breast and fish (all types).
Anti-Up Your Skin Care
You should not only eat them but also wear them. Topical antioxidants block free radicals in the environment (like sunlight and air pollution) and keep them from penetrating deeper into the skin. Scientists figured out how to shrink antioxidant molecules so they can enter through pores (which is why vitamin C and CoQ10 creams will work but wearing papaya slices or slabs of beef on your face won’t). Try a mix of carrot oil, vitamin E, olive oil and more, see the recipe here.
Skin soother/night cream: If you make yourself a cream that reads like the menu at a smoothie stand, that’s a good thing: Coffeeberry helps repair skin cell DNA, and pomegranate may help strengthen cell membranes, leaving you with an overall fresh, healthy look.
Wrinkle fighter: Antioxidants, vitamin A and C and CoQ10 in particular, erase fine lines. But in skin care, when it comes to antioxidants, the more the merrier. “Multiple antioxidants have been shown in studies to be more effective than single antioxidants,” says Great Neck, New York, dermatologist Jeannette Graf, M.D., author of Stop Aging, Start Living. For example, vitamin C kicks vitamin E into a higher gear, so the two are more powerful together.