"When you are balanced and when you listen and attend to the needs of your body, mind, and spirit, your natural beauty comes out." Christy Turlington
Skin supplements or nutraceuticals are products derived from food sources that are purported to provide extra health benefits, in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods. Depending on the jurisdiction, products may claim to prevent chronic diseases, improve health, delay the aging process, increase life expectancy, or support the structure or function of the body.
The fact that the skin is the least nutrient supplied yet largest organ of the body compels us to choose skincare that are well formulated to realize optimal results in skin health. Most components essential for healthy skin are first used elsewhere in the body, as determined by higher priority, such as, the brain, liver, and kidneys. Because the skin receives what is left, it is necessary to supplement the essential nutrients in the highest of quality, in the correct form, carried in an appropriate vehicle, and delivered with sufficient quantity.
With many complex interactions possible within and between nutritional supplements, the perfect skin regimen demands a deeper understanding of the intricacies of each essential component. Without a clearly developed methodology for carrying botanicals, vitamins, and minerals across the skin’s barrier, there can be minimal absorption and effectiveness achieved. Correctly supplementing a standard diet with essential elements for healthy skin can dramatically improve the appearance, elasticity, fullness, and glow of the skin. An analysis of nutraceuticals products, will detail antioxidants, vitamins, cofactors, enzymes, amino acids, and the related botanicals that contain them. Through the correct use, a universal approach to the treatment of skin conditions from the inside out, as an adjunct and option for the prescriber, can achieve optimal results. Nutraceuticals are an excellent approach to achieving skin health in addition to the use of topical creams when a patient, for example, may not be a ca didate for procedures such as peels, lasers, or surgery because of disease or a compromised immune system.
According to Consumer Reports, 50% of adults in the United States currently use nutraceuticals. The market for skin health supplements is rapidly expand ing, creating an opportunity for dermatologists and skin care professionals to add a new tool in the fight against aging. Selecting the correct ingredients can be a cumbersome task of navigating through the limited literature available on ingredients classified as “cosmetic.” The role of nutraceuticals in skin health is to supplement the current treatments and enhance patient outcomes where traditional therapies fall short. Most patients are willing to add to their skin care routine if additional benefits and correction can be achieved. Although taking pills orally is usually not a patient’s first choice, oral supplementation has the unique advantage over topical application of benefiting the whole body. The added benefits of cosmeceuticals include the perception of luxury, natural sourcing, being less invasive than procedures, and achieving overall skin health at a faster rate than with other therapies alone. The goals of nutraceuticals for skin health are:
DOWNSIDE OF NUTRACEUTICALS
Unlike pharmaceutical-grade products, nutraceuticals tend to lack high-quality studies because of the high cost and time required of clinical trials. Products available in the marketplace, including chain stores and other health-related outlets, provide numerous products with little to no information to guide the patient to an appropriate, safe, and effective supplement. Regulatory agencies such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limit claims made about a nutraceutical product: the product cannot be advertised as having the ability to treat, cure, diagnose, or prevent a disease. However, nutraceuticals may state their effectiveness with phrases such as “improves the appearance of wrinkles” or “enhances skin glow” rather than making a specific medical claim related to disease or skin function.
TESTING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF NUTRACEUTICALS
Manufacturers of nutraceuticals are not required to submit detailed information including chemistry, mechanism of action, pharmacokinetics, toxicity, and interactions to the FDA. Much of the available nutraceutical detailing is lacking for currently popularized nutraceuticals for skin health. Further, many formulations use “cocktails” or products with numerous ingredients, making a review of all of the active ingredients complicated and tedious. The common practice of “more ingredients are better” can lead patients to duplicating ingredients when more than one combination nutraceutical product is used. It is well documented that products such as antioxidants and skin-lightening products are more effective with multiple ingredients, providing a variety of mechanisms of action. Unfortunately, many companies analyze their safety based on the safety profile of individual ingredients rather than the final formulation. This leaves room for interactions within the formulation, generating possible side effects and decreased potency.The ideal oral skin health supplement creates an immediate result, has a low side-effect profile, is applicable to a variety of skin conditions, and has long-lasting preventative benefits. Such a product does not currently exist in the nutraceutical marketplace.
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