Anti-Aging Supplements for the NewYear
When it comes to anti-aging, I believe in all of it. Exercise, diet, skincare, procedures, meditation—and supplements. The key to benefiting from supplements is to actually take them consistently! Just like exercise and skincare, diligence is key. While your New Year’s resolutions are at hand, it is a good time to take stock in which supplements show the most promise in the anti-aging world.
Every morning, I throw a handful of about 25 vitamins and supplements into my mouth and gulp them down with water. Breakfast. This is not advisable for everyone, but in short, I believe in supplements! To be clear, not every medical professional loves them. Supplements are controversial in the medical field, and some can even interact with medications you are taking. So, I’ll say this: Please ask your personal medical doctor before taking something new.
Here are a few of my favorite anti-aging supplements.
N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)
This is like a miracle supplement for some. It increases glutathione, your body’s main antioxidant, by about 25%. This means it augments your body’s ability to resist oxidative stress and free-radical damage, which blocks inflammation and slows down aging. NAC is also known to help manage cravings and even reduce visceral fat. Hence, its use in weight management. But that’s not all. Studies show it imparts a feeling of well-being and, therefore, is used as an adjunct in treatments for OCD and other psychiatric disorders. It detoxifies the liver—literally—not just in the pop-culture “detox” sense. It actually is administered intravenously to people who have a Tylenol overdose in order to preserve the liver from damage. I have been taking this supplement and reading more and more great things about it. Every one of my friends and family are now on it.
Collagen is a protein that is rich in glycine. Supplementing with collagen has been shown to benefit skin health, relieve joint pain, and prevent bone loss. It is interesting to note that collagen is derived from bovine or marine dermis (hide/skin). Most people take powdered supplements that they add to water or even coffee. I have been on this bandwagon for about two years now. I feel that collagen powder is a beneficial addition to the armamentarium. In some studies, women who took collagen noted a 20% reduction in the appearance of their wrinkles.
You may remember nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide from your science classes. It is an important cofactor for cellular processes all over your body, and it declines with age. How can you increase NAD+ in your body? One company sells subscription- based nicotinamide riboside supplements. But there are other ways to do it. Take NAD+ supplements; follow a highfat, low carb ketogenic diet; practice intermittent fasting; or take oxaloacetate. It is difficult to measure the benefits of NAD+, which include protecting your DNA and allowing for maximal energy absorption from food. Elevating NAD+ levels may slow or even reverse aspects of aging and delay the progression of age-related diseases
Collagen II is the common denominator between skin and cartilage, so I take this daily and notice that it helps with reducing inflammation in my knee, plus it is also benefits my skin. We mostly know about glucosamine as it is used for joint health, but there’s growing evidence that n-acetyl-glucosamine can lighten areas of increased skin pigmentation, make fine lines and wrinkles less apparent, and offer some protection against skin damage due to its anti-inflammatory effect. Cell culture studies show that adding glucosamine to skin cells boosts the synthesis of hyaluronic acid, an important regulator of skin hydration. Hyaluronic acid levels decline with age. This partially explains why mature skin is dryer and has a rougher texture than more youthful skin. Hyaluronic acid is also involved in wound healing, and younger skin with more hyaluronic acid heals more rapidly and is less likely to scar. Hyaluronic acid levels in skin decline with age. As an aside, my favorite filler, Juvederm®, is composed of cross-linked hyaluronic acid.
This is a fascinating new supplement derived from a South African fern. The fern— polypodium leucotomos—protects itself against harsh UV exposure with multiple compounds. Now, this fern extract is available in capsule form. When taken 30 minutes before sun exposure, it is proven to provide an SPF of about 8 (repeat after three hours if still in the sun). It does not substitute for sunscreen but will help with “missed spots” that inevitably happen at the beach. Taken daily, it could prevent chronic sun damage that occurs over years of incidental sun exposure. There is strong scientific support for the supplement’s skin-protecting ability. In two Harvard Medical School studies, Heliocare dramatically reduced the incidence of sunburn as well as damage to collagen and elastin, the fibers that keep skin smooth and firm. That’s because it is particularly effective against the “aging” UVA rays that most sunscreens don’t protect against completely. It could prevent brown spots, wrinkles, and even skin cancer. This would be a great supplement for surfers or golfers to take daily.
There are so many hair-growth supplements and snake oils on the market. I don’t have a hair “problem” per se, but I do have a yearly seasonal shed. A few months ago, I decided to try Viviscal with absolutely zero expectations. I just added it to the “pile” of vitamins I gulp down daily, which means I only took it once a day instead of twice. After a few weeks, I had noticeably shinier hair and many new, tapered, re-growing hairs. My manicurist noticed that my nails were growing faster. I was impressed with the results. Viviscal encourages hair growth using a proprietary marine complex. Known as AminoMar C, it contains a combination of marine protein, minerals, and vitamins that help regenerate new cells and feed existing cells. A Scandinavian professor developed AminoMar C after isolating the key protein molecules of the Inuit’s protein-rich fish diet. Viviscal also contains vitamin C, silica, and biotin, which further support healthy hair. Sorry guys! It promotes healthier hair that is already growing but is not known to correct male pattern baldness.
Melatonin is known as the “sleep hormone.” I wish I had discovered it sooner! After years of insomnia, this was the cure for me. It may not have the same profound and consistent result in everyone but recent studies find that melatonin has many other positive effects on the body. The hormone melatonin produces a number of health benefits in terms of your immune system. It’s a powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenger that helps combat inflammation. Melatonin may even have a role in slowing the aging of your brain. Melatonin increases the life span of animals by up to 20%— prolonging their youthful character in the process. Scientific evidence now suggests that melatonin plays a crucial role in a variety of metabolic functions, including antioxidant protection (stronger than Vitamin E); neuro-protection; anti-inflammatory defense; and immune-system support. Because melatonin production reduces with age, experts believe that its decline contributes to both the aging process and a generalized deterioration of health. The benefits may be attributed to the regulation of circadian rhythms (day/night) body cycles that determine cellular behavior.
Beautiful, healthy skin is a function of what is going on both on the inside and the outside. You can help maintain and prevent skin aging with supplements. Of course, sun protection, de-stressing, exercising, drinking water, reducing alcohol intake, and eliminating tobacco are a must. Once we have removed offending factors, we can optimize body function with supplements. My philosophy is that the cells should have at their disposal what they may need. The rest gets filtered out. Of course, each individual will have a different tolerance and a different response to supplements, so proceed with caution. You can read more about supplements, hormone replacement, and the total anti-aging armamentarium in the seven-week and seven-month sections of my book, Seven Days to Sexy, available now at Amazon.com. It is the perfect tome to launch the New Year with. Happy 2020!
By Anna Guanche, MD, FAAD
Board-Certified Celebrity Dermatologist
Author, Seven Days to Sexy
The statements in this article are for general informational purposes only and do not substitute for individual medical advice.