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Skin Benefits Of Vitamins In Anti Aging Creams

Updated on December 5, 2015

Skin aging

Environmental or exogenous factors such as ultraviolet radiation, wind and smoke contribute to the extrinsic aging of the skin.

This, combined with intrinsic or chronological aging, results in skin damage, development of wrinkles, dyspigmentation, and possible cancerous changes.

This problem could lead to severe depression and anxiety in today's population that wishes to remain youthful always (me being no exception!).

Ultraviolet radiation - the culprit behind photoaging

Ultraviolet and visible radiation comprise a very small part of electromagnetic radiation spectrum.

The terrestrial solar spectrum includes ultraviolet, visible and infrared rays. UV radiation comprises of three regions-UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C rays.

Sun is the major source of ultraviolet rays, affecting mainly outdoor workers. Some indoor workers may also get radiated by, for example, arc welding devices, and hospital phototherapy equipment. Use of sunbeds for cosmetic tanning and UV lamps for treatment of skin diseases also increases UV light exposure.

Even when sitting in your office or at home, you might be exposed to low-intensity ultraviolet radiation fro fluorescent or more importantly, quartz halogen lamps used for indoor lighting.

In such a scenario vitamins and minerals, being natural, wholesome and "organic", offer great solace to all of us who dread the appearance of aging signs.

Vitamins are biologically active organic compounds, which are indispensable for the normal functioning of our body. They have no direct function as an energy source or as a building material but act as cofactors to support various metabolic reactions.

Almonds Are A Natural Source Of Vitamin-E


Vitamin-E (alpha tocopherol)

Vitamin-E or alpha tocopherol is a fat-soluble antioxidant that plays a key role in protecting cell membranes from lipid peroxidative damage by free radicals, the by-products of various chemical reactions in our body.

These free radicals carry electronic charge on them, collide with coverings of body cells and cause serious damage. They contribute significantly to the environmental or exogenous aging of the skin, especially ultraviolet light-mediated damage.

Although our skin possesses various intrinsic defense systems which help to mitigate this oxidative damage, both excessive and long-term exposure to free radicals can deplete body's defenses.

Antioxidants such as Vitamin-E modulate this damage by scavenging free radicals and lipid peroxyl radicals.

Vitamin-E is distributed in a gradient fashion in the outermost layer of healthy skin, the stratum corneum, with the highest levels in the deepest layers and lowest levels closest to the surface.

Depletion of this natural vitamin-E content of skin is an early and sensitive marker of environmental oxidative damage.

When applied to the skin, it gets converted to a biologically active form alpha-tocopherol and helps reduce skin roughness, the length of facial lines and depth of wrinkles.

Topical application of vitamin-E also increases stratum corneum hydration and enhances its water binding capacity. It reduces the age-dependent increase in collagenase enzyme, thus delaying the collagen damage and maintaining a younger looking skin.

Vitamin-E is also photoprotective and reduces the severity of ultraviolet radiation-induced redness and swelling of the skin.

It inhibits ultra violet-B radiation-induced peroxide generation in human skin cells or keratinocytes. Overall, after application, it repairs the damage already done to the skin, prevents further degeneration and helps maintain a healthy and youthful appearance.

Vitamin-C maintains skin collagen content



L-ascorbic acid, the biologically active form of vitamin-C, is an antioxidant and a cofactor for synthesis of collagen, the protein that forms a supporting framework underneath our skin.

Found in abundance in citrus fruits, ascorbic acid is our body's main water soluble, non-enzymatic electron scavenger, enabling it to function efficiently in water filled aqueous compartments.

It also helps regenerate exhausted, used up or oxidized form of vitamin-E.

Vitamin-C present in anti-aging creams increases the production of collagen beneath the skin and reduces production of matrix metalloproteinase, an enzyme that enhances collagen degradation.

It is also an anti-inflammatory agent and reduces the swelling and redness that occur after carbon dioxide laser surgery.

It is photoprotective, neutralizing ultra violet-B radiation generated free radicals and toxins, thus decreasing sun-induced wrinkles.

It also has skin shielding effects against ultra violet-A rays, thus reducing sunburn.

It also has a protective effect against ultraviolet light-induced damage to skin surface cells, the keratinocytes.

Vitamin-C reduces dyspigmentation and produces overall lightening of the skin.

The most common forms of vitamin-C found in cosmetic products are L-ascorbic acid and its ester form ascorbyl palmitate (30 times more effective than ascorbic acid).

The only hazard with the topical vitamin-C application is that it is difficult to stabilize, as it rapidly oxidizes and gets denatured in solution form.

Vitamin-A as retinol

Vitamin-A is a collective term for several related biologically active compounds, the retinoids. Its main effect on the skin is to maintain skin integrity, its growth, and differentiation.

Deficiency of vitamin-A results in skin dryness.

Vitamin-A derivative retinol and retinyl palmitate undergo enzymatic conversion to the principal active form, retinoic acid.

Ultraviolet radiation reduces both retinol and retinyl ester levels in the skin.

Skin aging results from the interplay of extrinsic damage by harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun, an intrinsic increase in collagen-degrading matrix metalloproteinase enzymes and reduced collagen production.

Retinol plays an important role in counteracting these mechanisms. It inhibits the increase in matrix metalloproteinases and stimulates collagen synthesis in both aged, sun-protected skin and in photoaged skin.

It also restimulates fibroblasts, the collagen-producing cells in the skin that seem to decrease with aging.

Vitamin-A increases skin thickness, thus helps in improving the appearance of aging skin.

Niacin or vitamin-B3

Nicotinamide or the active form niacinamide, a derivative of niacin or vitamin-B3 has an anti-inflammatory effect and improves skin appearance by reducing skin damage due to toxins and sun rays.

As a 4% gel form, it has beneficial effects on acne or pimples.

It helps reduce chronological aging of the skin by reducing water loss from the skin surface.

On application, it increases levels of free fatty acids, cholesterol and ceramides in stratum corneum, the uppermost layer of skin, thus reduces effects of aging.

Vitamins in anti aging creams

Maintains skin integrity
Free radical scavenger
Reduces transepidermal water loss
Increases skin thickness
Reduces pigmentation
Increases skin hydration
Increases ceramide levels
Increases collagen content
Increases collagen content
Increases collagen content
Reduces localized skin damage

Sunscreens - an essential component

Other ways to prevent skin aging

  • Sun protection - Avoid skin exposure to direct sunlight when ultraviolet radiation intensity is high, as at high altitudes and in summer.
  • Wear covered clothes - Clothing consisting of close weave, loose fitting material covering as much of skin, as is fashionably acceptable helps to protect your skin from getting damaged.
  • Wear a sunscreen - Regular, adequate, prophylactic application of high protection, absorbent reflecting or combination sunscreens is helpful in minimizing the short- and long-term effects of ultraviolet radiation exposure.

Anti aging cosmetic procedures

  • Alpha hydroxy acid peels - A series of weak mono- or dicarboxylic acids, lactic acid (derived from dairy products), malic acid (from fruits) and glycollic acid (from sugar cane) are used as peels to "freshen" the complexion and reverse the signs of aging.
  • Microdermabrasion - In this procedure mechanical disruption of both epidermis and dermis of skin is produced to stimulate skin resurfacing and new collagen production.
  • Laser resurfacing - Pulsed carbon dioxide laser has made rejuvenation of skin possible for people with the sun damaged and wrinkled skin.
  • Hyaluronic acid fillers - These are provided in prefilled syringes and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and scars.
  • Botox injections - A clinical formulation of Botulinum toxin - A exotoxin is injected in low doses to paralyze selected muscles of facial expression. This reduces the appearance of wrinkles and provides a smoother look.

Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)

Both oral hormone therapy and skin application of estrogen based creams mitigate certain of the age associated skin changes in post menopausal women.

It leads to decreased slakness or improved elasticity of skin, reducing skin dryness and wrinkles.

In addition, Growth Hormone treatment of older men (>60 years age) also increases skin thickness and reduces fine lines and other aging signs.


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