My patients often ask me about all the expensive skin serums, rejuvenators, wrinkle reducers, and age defying creams with magical sounding extracts that Hollywood stars and famous models advertise on television. For the price they charge they should work magic in turning back the aging clock on your skin. Unfortunately most of them just take your money. There is, however, a natural nutrient that can help your skin look younger. Let me tell you about it…
Fight Skin Aging with this Nutrient in Common Foods
My patients are often surprised when I tell them that a wrinkle is really a kind of gradually developing wound in your skin. So, it doesn’t trigger the same healing process as a wound that occurs when you traumatically cut or scrape yourself. You see, when skin gets older, it has lost its elasticity because it no longer contains the same amount of collagen that it used to. Your skin can no longer “knit together” like as it once did and starts to gradually pull apart from itself much like a wound does when your skin gets cut. Your skin then develops furrows and depressions which show up as wrinkles on the surface of your skin.
Yet, the same nutrients that your skin calls upon to heal traumatic wounds can also diminish the severity of wrinkles and improve their appearance – if your diet supplies enough of them. When people get older, their intake of key nutrients – like protein – that your body uses to heal your skin can drop off. You become deficient in these skin-saving nutrients and your face starts to show the damage. If you replenish them, not only will your skin heal faster if you injure yourself, but your skin will start to regain elasticity and wrinkles will start to soften.
The one nutrient that your skin makes abundant use of is called L-arginine, or just arginine, an amino acid that your body manufactures from protein-rich foods or protein powders. Besides helping your skin stay younger looking, your body also has several other significant uses for arginine as it helps you manufacture nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a gas that your body uses to keep your blood vessels dilating properly and improving blood circulation. So, it helps your heart function better and has also been noted to help men with erectile dysfunction.
Arginine also has been shown in recent research out of the University of Copenhagen to perhaps soon be used as an adjunct treatment for diabetes. It helps the body utilize glucose better and keeps blood sugars better controlled. Relative to skin aging, because of higher glucose levels, and arginine deficiencies that diabetics frequently have, diabetics tend to age faster than non-diabetics. Their skin often exhibits a greater loss of elasticity and firmness with more wrinkles and sagging earlier than non-diabetics.
Because your body makes enough arginine from the foods you eat, if you eat several servings a week of arginine-rich foods, there really is no reason to further supplement with individual arginine capsules. The thought that “if some is good, more is better” doesn’t apply to arginine as some research points to the idea that too much arginine may be harmful to brain tissue. So, focus on getting your arginine from optimal food sources like:
Other ways to help prevent skin wrinkling and premature aging are:
1. Boost your levels of Vitamin C – this helps makes collagen which works in tandem with arginine. Take between 500 – 1,000 mg a day.
2. Drink the recommended levels of water for your body weight – dehydration can cause superficial wrinkles and sags to occur quickly.
3. Use a good moisturizer on your skin that keeps your skin hydrated. Natural oils like grape seed, olive, and coconut are great for holding moisture in your skin and you can buy a huge bottle of them for a fraction of what “Doctor designed” serums cost.
4. Get at least 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. Your body repairs itself during sleep and that includes your skin – your largest organ. Your more youthful looks will thank you for the extra sleep time!
Jay Brachfeld, M.D.