Science Update

Recent Review Investigates Potential Connection Between Skin Health, Certain Nutraceuticals, and Healthy Aging

Age-related changes to skin health have been linked in recent research with cellular senescence. Cellular senescence refers to a process in which certain cells, after becoming stressed or damaged, may become resistant to apoptosis, undergo irreversible replicative arrest, and have increased metabolic activity. It is a potential driver of many processes leading to age-related diseases. A recently published review by Morgado-Carrasco and colleagues explored the potential connection between certain nutraceuticals and age-related skin changes.

Collagen is a molecule described in the recent review article as potentially supportive in the presence of age-related skin changes. Collagen is the primary structural protein in connective tissue. Changes to collagen metabolism occur from the normal aging process and other environmental, hormonal, and photoaging factors. The result is often a thinning of the dermis, a decrease in the number of fibroblasts, loss of elasticity and hydration, and increased vulnerability to damage.

A randomized clinical trial reported improvements in collagen fiber appearance and significant increases in the echogenicity of the dermis in individuals receiving hydrolyzed collagen supplementation daily for three months. A double-blind, randomized clinical trial reported reductions in transepidermal water loss and significant increases in stratum corneum water content.

The authors also discuss research regarding hyaluronic acid, an important component of cell membranes and the extracellular matrix that is produced by almost all cell types in the human body. It may support cellular development, differentiation, and proliferation. It also has been shown to support matrix structure, hydration, and lubrication.

Oxidative stress is often associated with the aging process; hyaluronic acid has been shown to exhibit free-radical scavenging activity. It may also help promote keratinocyte proliferation and help protect the skin against damage related to sun exposure. A randomized clinical trial assessed the efficacy of a supplement containing hyaluronic acid on individuals experiencing moderate photoaging. Improvements in skin hydration and other biomarkers were observed at the study terminus and two weeks after the end of treatment.

A double-blind, randomized control trial reported significant improvements in skin hydration and elasticity in individuals receiving 200 mg of hyaluronic acid daily. A similar study reported increases in stratum corneum water content, skin elasticity, thickness, and a significant reduction in wrinkles after using 120 mg hyaluronic acid daily for 12 weeks.

Glucosamine, another molecule described in the review by Morgado-Carrasco and colleagues, is a precursor molecule to all amino sugars in the body and is a component of glycoproteins, glycosaminoglycans, hyaluronic acid, and proteoglycans. It may help support skin health, the inflammatory response, antioxidative stress, and healthy aging. A recent clinical trial reported improvements in the expression of type I and type III collagen after daily supplementation with 250 mg glucosamine for eight weeks.

While more research is needed, evidence suggests that certain nutraceuticals, such as collagen, glucosamine, and hyaluronic acid, may help support healthy aging, antioxidative status, and skin health.

By Dr. C Ambrose, ND, MAT