Antioxidants for healthier skin

The antioxidants beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, selenium, vitamin E and zeaxanthin improved skin health in two new studies.

Researchers divided 39 volunteers with healthy, normal type 2 skin—fair skin that burns easily and tans minimally—into three groups. The first group took 4.8 mg of beta carotene, 3 mg of lutein, 3 mg of lycopene, 75 mcg of selenium and 10 mg of vitamin E (alpha tocopherol) per day. The second group took no lutein, 6 mg of lycopene and the same dosages of the other three supplements per day. The third group took a placebo.

After 12 weeks, while the placebo group had not improved, both supplement groups had higher blood-fluid (serum) levels of antioxidants, thicker, denser skin as measured by ultrasound, and less rough and scaly skin, which doctors measured using ultraviolet light.

The Journal of Skin Pharmacology and Physiology will also publish new findings later in 2007 from the University of Naples, Italy, where researchers studied the effects of lutein and zeaxanthin on female subjects aged 25 to 50. Subjects took an oral supplement of 5 mg of lutein and 0.2 mg of zeaxanthin twice per day for a daily total of 10 mg of lutein and 0.4 mg of zeaxanthin. The women also applied a treatment to the surface of the skin (topical) that contained 50 parts-per-million (ppm) lutein and 2 ppm zeaxanthin per day, supplying 50 mcg of lutein and 2 mcg of zeaxanthin per gram of topical treatment.

Every two weeks for 12 weeks, researchers measured skin moisture (hydration), ability to maintain size and shape (elasticity), protective fat layer (superficial skin lipids) and cell membrane damage (lipid peroxidation), and found that compared to placebo those who had taken lutein and zeaxanthin orally, topically, alone or together, had significantly improved in each measure. The oral-topical combination group averaged 60% greater hydration, 20% better elasticity, 50% more lipid protection and 64% less cell damage.

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