What associations do you have with the word protection? Probably there can be something that saves you from the existing danger. If the danger is not seen, vivid or sensed but you know it exists, do you think you will still use protective measures? Think about that, specifically in the context of skin protection.
Protective but Sensitive
Human skin is the organ that provides permanent protection from damaging environmental factors. Various chemical and mechanical attacks can negatively affect it. One of the most known yet widely neglected phenomena is skin photoaging – that is aging of the skin under the influence of ultraviolet (UV) and infrared (IR) radiation. By getting on the skin, ultraviolet rays cause free radicals formation. The last possess high chemical activity and are also known as ‘positively charged ions’. In their attempt to get the missing electron, unstable fragments of molecules react with the nearest molecule and tear off a free electron from it. A damaged molecule, losing an electron, becomes a free radical. Such chemical reaction is capable of destroying cells and tissues of a living organism, including your skin.
Free radicals and the effect they cause would be a major problem for the skin but for the natural solution. Our body produces antioxidants that fight free radicals. Vitamin E is one of the most known natural antioxidants. This vitamin is also called tocopherol acetate (tokos-offspring, phero-bear). This name was given by the results of experiments on infertile animals. The study was the following: the animals were routinely given lettuce leaves rich in Vitamin E. After a while they had offsprings. Coming back to the reduction of free radicals, tocopherol is a strong antioxidant that prevents the oxidation of lipids (fats). Since lipids are composed of cell membranes, it protects them from being destructed by free radicals. Here are some effects of Vitamin E on the skin:
- improves the absorption of oxygen
- enhances the immune response of the skin
- restores cells
- improves skin tone and color
- prevents wrinkles by fighting free radicals.
Now it is clear how important tocopherol acetate is for your skin. It would be but for one very serious problem – it is destroyed by ultraviolet rays.
As much as it is so strong and protective, Vitamin E is also very sensitive to ultraviolet and infrared radiation. Tocopherol is resistant to high and low temperatures but quickly degrades with sun rays. In the direct sun, cell membranes are weakened, causing the cell walls shrink unevenly. It is generally believed that the cell membrane serves as a kind of packaging for the content but the truth is that a cell membrane is responsible for the nutrition, purification, and proper functioning of the cell. The cell is a small laboratory in which thousands of different chemical reactions occur simultaneously, very important for life, health, and youth. So it is crucial to keep the cell membrane protected from aggressive environmental factors.
What to Do
There are several ways you can avoid deficiency of Vitamin E in the body:
- add foods rich in Vitamin E to your daily diet such as nuts, avocado, wheat germ, etc. (keep in mind that such products can’t be stored in the sun)
- take dietary supplements with Vitamin E
- use topical Vitamin E for your skin to prevent wrinkles and early aging
- use SPF creams and sunscreens to protect your skin from aggressive ultraviolet radiation
- avoid staying in sun for a long time
When administered topically or consumed with food, tocopherol protects the body by binding free radicals before they damage DNA, proteins and other important molecules. You may not feel the lack of Vitamin E in the body but it does not diminish the harm it causes. It is time to think proactively about your skin and body wellness. Everybody needs Vitamin E but the difference is that some may have to take it as a preventative skin care treatment while others need to use it already as the curative care.