The functioning of a human skin cell, and ultimately the structure of the skin, is only as good as its energy supply. Cells require a steady supply of nutrients to fuel up for the many jobs that they do—defensive work, repair jobs, regeneration of new cells, and, on the larger scale, actually breathing life into us. Human skin cells are constantly doing heavy lifting and backbreaking work in our defense. If there were a medal of honor for a human cell, it would surely go to skin cells.
To function on the front lines of defense, skin cells require massive amounts of energy. The cellular unit responsible for energy production is called the mitochondria. Each of our mitochondrion is like a fully rechargeable AAA battery that uses nutritional components to operate in high gear. When we are young, the mitochondria is very efficient and can run on poor nutritional quality. However, through the aging process, its efficiency declines, and mitochondria becomes less forgiving of our poor selection of dietary choices. Fast food and other nutrient-deficient foods provide only low-grade raw materials for energy production.
When the skin-aging process starts in earnest in mid-life and beyond, the demand for energy production for defense, repair, and regeneration reaches an all-time high. To make matters worse, when the mitochondrial function starts to decline, it actually increases the formation of free radicals and contributes to the oxidative stress burden in the skin.
Skin-care companies are working hard to develop topical formulations that help to support the functioning of mitochondria. There are also hints that the oral administration of mitochondrial-supporting nutrients can help curb the skin-aging process.
Yutaka Ashida, PhD, and colleagues reported in 2004 that the oral administration of 60 milligrams of Co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10) daily for three months reduced the volume and depth of eye wrinkles. The supplement also increased the total surface area around the eyes that was free from wrinkles. The same group then did experimental studies to see if the oral CoQ10 actually reached the skin. Sure enough, the oral administration of CoQ10 increased epidermal levels by an astounding 194 percent. Interestingly, most other organs did not see a significant increase in CoQ10 levels, indicating that it makes a beeline for its frontline work in the skin. In addition to its role as a strong antioxidant in the skin, CoQ10 plays a critical role in the production of mitochondrial energy.
The CoQ10 study provides evidence that other nutrients that help maximize mitochondrial function may also have a place in beauty from the inside out. Since many of the B vitamins are essential for the production of energy within the battery, maybe those old advertisements promoting B vitamins for a youthful skin weren’t so wrong after all.
Inadequate intake of zinc, one of the most important skin nutrients, has been shown to contribute to mitochondrial decline. An estimated half of the adult population may be deficient in at least one nutrient that otherwise supports mitochondrial function.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also important in mitochondrial functioning. Other specific dietary supplements known to improve energy production in human cells are: a-lipoic acid, acetyl-L-carnitine, creatine, taurine, ribose, quercetin, rhodiola, grape extracts (with the natural chemical resveratrol), and ginkgo biloba. Note that the common thread among most of these ingredients is that they act as strong antioxidants.
Supplementation with a mitochondria cocktail including these ingredients may be of value in keeping your cells energized and highly functioning. In keeping with our theme that a wrinkle is not just a wrinkle, but a reflection of inner health, consider that mitochondrial cocktails of these supplements (especially CoQ10 a-lipoic acid, and acetyl-L-carnitine) have been shown to be helpful in a number of age-related diseases, including neurodegenerative diseases.
Remember that this is more than a superficial issue; mitochondrial decay is at the core of most diseases of aging. Not surprisingly, a number of these mitochondria-supporting chemicals and herbs can now be found in the ingredient list of the natural topical preparations. Finally, exercise is known to be one of the best ways to preserve the structure and function of the mitochondria through the aging process. Energizer hpe 40 The Elixir of Life – Reviews and guides