Antioxidants: Our Body's Molecular Crimefighters

The term "antioxidants" has become a health and wellness buzz word in recent years. Physicians and nutritionists alike regularly encourage individuals to eat foods rich in them, while consumer products regularly tout them on product labels. In fact, antioxidants now make a regular appearance in skin care products, ours included. But, have you ever wondered what it is they do? And, are they really that beneficial?

Let's address that last question first. Research has continuous proven that antioxidants are definitely beneficial to the body. They act like the soldiers of our cells, disarming the free radicals that threaten cellular damage. Not only do free radicals lead to disease, including heart disease, Parkinson's disease and even cancer, they're also a leading cause of aging. In the skin, free radicals cause the breakdown of collagen and elastin, the proteins that give skin strength and elasticity. When collagen and elastin break down, fine lines and wrinkles develop.

Because our bodies don't store antioxidants, it's vital that we regularly replenish our supply. The list of foods that contain them is plentiful. In fact, to find those highest in antioxidants, click here.

So what about the use of antioxidants in topical skin care products? What percentage of the antioxidants that are applied to the skin actually reach the deeper layers? And, of those that are absorbed, does the skin actually use them? In 2009, Lexli founder, Dr. Ahmed Abdullah and a team of fellow researchers implemented a study that demonstrated use of a topical skin care product containing antioxidants does, indeed, increase antioxidant levels within the skin. Furthermore, a study by Burke demonstrated that, when applied topically in proper form, antioxidants like vitamin C and E and selenium "arm the skin with a reservoir of antioxidants that cannot be washed or rubbed off, protection which stays in the skin for several days after application."

Given these facts, there are a few simple guidelines that should be followed to increase your body's antioxidant levels and, thus, optimize its ability to fight disease and combat the signs of aging:

Eat a Healthy Diet

The best way to obtain antioxidants is by eating a diet rich in whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables - the brighter the color, the better.

Limit Exposure to Conditions that Promote Free Radical Production.

Avoid environmental toxins like pollution and cigarette smoke. And, it should go without saying, avoid excessive sun exposure, as UV exposure is one of the main producers of free radicals.

Take a Daily Supplement

A daily multivitamin that includes antioxidants like vitamins A, C and E, as well as selenium, is beneficial on numerous levels.

Use an Effective Topical Antioxidant Formulation

Research has shown that combining oral antioxidant supplementation with topical antioxidant formulations is beneficial to ensuring optimal protection of skin from photoaging (aging caused by UV exposure). To be effective, however, the formulation must optimize the delivery of antioxidants to the skin by using a base (the main ingredient in a formulation) that can be absorbed by the skin. This is just reason why Lexli's base of organic, pharmaceutical-grade aloe vera is beneficial. Aloe vera, unlike water, can be absorbed into the skin's layers.

Antioxidants are currently the subject of countless research studies, due to the promise they hold for many disease states. Thus, we expect we will continue to learn how to maximize their benefit to the body. As the topic evolves, we'll bring you the latest updates.

Click to read a piece that Dr. Abdullah wrote in the November 2010 issue of Skin Inc. about antioxidants.

Simple Skincare, Beautiful Skin: A Back-to-Basics Approach

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