Nutricosmetics help maintain health, inside and out

May 1, 2011

Preventing and treating extrinsic and intrinsic skin aging and photoaging requires attacking these processes at the cellular level, experts say. A lifetime of healthy skin requires evaluating one's diet and lifestyle choices and selectively using vitamins and supplements.

Key Points

National report - Preventing and treating extrinsic and intrinsic skin aging and photoaging requires attacking these processes at the cellular level, experts say.

"It's never too late to start. But the earlier you begin, the more effective your skincare regimen potentially is," he says. Conversely, "What if you've been taking the wrong set of nutraceuticals early in life? Potentially, the adverse effects will be more serious. We need to protect our patients from premature aging, both from the things we know to cause skin damage and from nutraceuticals that dermatologists prescribe or allow them to take."

"Eating too much can create an overabundance of circulating glucose. This can lead to abnormalities in intracellular DNA transcription and activate advanced glycation end-product (AGE) receptors that propel production of reactive oxygen species (ROS)," she says. Conversely, she says, eating too little leads to depression and other problems.

Some studies suggest caloric restriction can prolong the lifespan of mice and yeast. But in humans, "Caloric restriction is an unworkable model. I'm not sure that starved people represent the appearance of youth that we're looking for," Dr. Draelos says.

Experts believe caloric restriction extends life and health by increasing expression of the Sir2 gene, which is present in yeast, Dr. Draelos says. The equivalent mammalian gene is SIRT1 (sirtuin one), she says.

"One of the most important factors that leads to aging is loss of the genetic code," she says. Sirtuins affect the binding of histones, which bind to DNA and prevent it from being expressed. "If you can stop the histones from binding, you can improve transcription of DNA."

Resveratrol modulates sirtuin activity, Dr. Draelos says. In yeast, caloric restriction upregulates mitochondrial function, as well as increases expression of the Sir2 gene and prolongs lifespan. Similarly, in mice, caloric restriction or the use of resveratrol increases expression of the SIRT1 gene, which improves mitochondrial functioning.

"When you improve the efficiency of mitochondrial functioning, you decrease ROS and increase lifespan. Therefore, resveratrol and caloric restriction seem to have the same effect," she says.

Because resveratrol derived from grapes is very costly, "Most products available today that contain resveratrol derive it from Japanese knotweed (Polygonum cuspidatum)," Dr. Draelos says. In a study in which investigators fed mice resveratrol derived from Japanese knotweed, however, "A statistically significant number of rodents developed liver tumors. Japanese knotweed promoted tumors because it allowed the overexpression of defective DNA."

Anti-aging experts are now focusing on caloric-restriction mimetics. "This is one of the newest areas of interest in anti-aging research. Caloric-restriction mimetics mimic caloric restriction in their effect on DNA expression, but the individual continues to eat normally," Dr. Draelos says.

Anthocyanins - a type of antioxidant derived from berries (or any red, reddish blue or purple fruit) - currently rank among the most widely used caloric-restriction mimetics in nutraceutical products, particularly those designed to enhance mental functioning, Dr. Draelos says.

"Anthocyanins are very small, water-soluble molecules that can cross the blood-brain barrier," she says.