Aging Skin & Free Radical Theory | Do Free Radicals Cause Aging?

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Free radical aging is real. Understand the cellular mechanisms that can give you more than skin wrinkles.

RELATED: Feed Your Face: 4 Essential Foods For Beautiful Skin

In this article:

  1. Free Radicals and Cell Damage
  2. Free Radicals Aging and Skin Health
  3. Alpha Lipoic Acid to the Rescue
  4. ALA: Combating Aging One Cell at a Time
  5. Beauty from the Inside Out
  6. Delving Deeper into Free Radicals
  7. Free Radicals and Skin Aging: It’s All About Imbalance
  8. Fight Free Radicals Aging Further with These Ideas

Free Radical Aging and How Your Body Makes You Age Fast

The familiar adage “beauty comes from within” has been bandied about since time in memoriam. However, now there is a growing body of scientific evidence supporting the theory that youthful, beautiful skin is, indeed, a reflection of what is going on inside your body at the cellular level.

Free Radicals and Cell Damage

To understand the entire aging process, one must start at the cellular level. The well-established free radical or mitochondrial theory of aging states that the mitochondria are the major source of toxic oxidants.

They are capable of reacting with and destroying cell constituents. The consequence of this destructive activity is an inefficient cell and a body we recognize as aged (wrinkled skin, low energy level).

Free Radicals Aging and Skin Health

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Premature aging of the skin is caused by free radicals. Collagen, a protein that makes skin firm and supple, is especially susceptible to damage from free radicals.

Over time, this leads to inflammation and glycation or “bonding” of collagen fibers, damaging the integrity of the collagen. This, in turn, causes the skin to become stiff and inflexible, forming lines or wrinkles and contributing to the overall aging of the skin.

The sun is not the primary source of free radicals that cause premature aging of the skin. In fact, 90%-95% of free radicals are created inside your own cells by “dirty” creation of energy by mitochondria.

This is why, even if you stay completely out of the sun, you still wrinkle with age. In short, free radicals, created mainly by the mitochondria of our own cells, sap our skin of its youthful appearance!

Alpha Lipoic Acid to the Rescue

Antioxidants combat free radicals and affect your body and skin. Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) is the “mother” of all antioxidants.

It is actually the master switch that turns on your body’s own antioxidant workforce. Importantly, ALA can work up to 1,000 times better than other antioxidants.

It can work indirectly. Instead of mainly acting directly on free radicals, ALA activates your body’s free radical defense systems.

These are up to 1,000 times more powerful than a normal antioxidant. In other words, alpha-lipoic acid directly benefits the skin cells from the inside out, where most of the free radical damage occurs in the first place.

ALA: Combating Aging One Cell at a Time

Another benefit of ALA is its important role in healthy metabolism. Aging cells are characterized by decreased energy production and metabolism.

ALA helps to protect the cells, so they can carry out their essential functions, combat aging, and support a more youthful vitality. This is important for overall health but equally important for healthy skin.

Lipoic acid is very popular in skin creams because it works so well to turn on your skin’s antioxidant systems. But it can’t get deep down into the skin.

The only way to get it deep down into the skin is to take it orally, so your body’s circulation carries it to the deep skin cells. It can work at the cellular level, benefiting your skin from the inside out.

Beauty from the Inside Out

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Oral supplementation of alpha-lipoic acid is key for improved cellular health that is reflected in one’s overall well-being and ultimately skin quality. As with any supplementation, it’s wise to consult with a trusted healthcare provider.

Every organ in our body, including our skin, benefits from a healthy lifestyle that includes a nutrient-rich diet, frequent activity, and minimal exposure to cigarette smoke and other pollutants. It still rings true: beauty comes from within.

In the coming months, the Juvenon Health Journal will continue to feature research that helps you stay informed and healthy. By offering effective, all-natural supplements and health news you can use, Juvenon provides an essential arsenal for combating aging enemies.

RELATED: The Ageless Beauty Guide: Younger Skin Starts Here

Delving Deeper into Free Radicals

To help you understand free radical aging, you need to learn more about free radicals. For example, are they the same as reactive oxygen species (ROS) or oxidative stress?

Free radicals, or simply radicals, can refer to an atom or groups of atoms with one or more unpaired electrons. The body actually has many types of radicals, but the most common are the reactive oxygen species.

Also known as ROS, these are chemical biological systems that contain oxygen and are highly reactive to different types of molecules. These can range from proteins to lipids or fatty acids.

These reactive oxygen species can include:

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Superoxide anion
  • Hydroxyl radical

Free Radicals and Skin Aging: It’s All About Imbalance

By now, you already have a better idea about free radicals aging. These radicals can accelerate aging and the appearance of wrinkles by damaging the collagen fibers that hold the skin structure together.

Free radicals and skin aging may also happen due to the biological activities of the mitochondria. Internal and external factors such as excessive sun exposure can lead to radical formation.

What you may not know is free radicals are normal by-products of the mitochondria. In fact, some studies suggest they promote signal transduction pathways.

They may encourage cells to grow and proliferate. Nitric oxide, a free radical, helps dilate the blood vessels for better cardiovascular health.

Even your white blood cells can produce these free radicals when they fight real threats like viruses and other pathogens.

The problem occurs when the body experiences oxidative stress. Oxidative stress and free radicals aging go hand in hand, along with the mitochondria.

When someone is healthy, the body is in a state of homeostasis or balance. Although the mitochondria produce oxidants, the body also has an antioxidant defense system.

When the body has more radicals than antioxidants, the body is in oxidative stress. Free radicals derived from oxygen are highly reactive, bolstered by a chain of reactions called mitochondrial electron transport.

This can result in oxidative damage. For instance, they can destroy cell membranes including the mitochondria in a process called lipid peroxidation.

This process can result in cell death. It then increases the risks of age-related diseases such as heart disease and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease.

Fight Free Radicals Aging Further with These Ideas

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To prevent free radicals aging, alpha-lipoic acid or ALA is your best friend. You can get it from antioxidant supplements like Juvenon Cellular Health.

That’s not the only solution available to you, however. First, you have antioxidant enzymes like superoxide dismutase.

What it does is to convert superoxides, which are the most toxic, to less-harmful oxidants like oxygen or hydrogen peroxide.

Consuming fruits and vegetables high in selenium can help in forming glutathione peroxidase.

Glutathione Peroxidase Definition: As one of the antioxidant enzymes, it converts peroxides to alcohol, so the body can eliminate them.

Vitamin C or ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, and vitamin E are also popular antioxidants:

  • Vitamin C can donate a hydrogen atom or electron to stabilize radicals.
  • Vitamin E can stop the formation of radicals in lipids or fats.
  • Beta-carotene functions as an interceptor of free radicals.

Another possible way to combat free radicals aging is calorie restriction. In a 2001 rat study, caloric restriction lowers oxidative damage of the DNA and production of free radicals in the mitochondria.

Free radical aging does happen. What you don’t want is to disturb the balance causing your body to produce more of these radicals.

Help your body reach homeostasis by increasing the antioxidants you have through proper diet and the right supplements.

What do you do to help fight free radicals aging? Share your tips in the comments section below!

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on November 14, 2013, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.