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Premature Skin Ageing – What you need to know

Friday September 25, 2020
Premature Skin Ageing – What you need to know

Ageing is considered inevitable; however, prematurely aged skin may not be.  This article will discuss the factors that contribute to premature skin ageing and what can be done to delay it.

The skin has several layers each with unique functions:

The epidermis: Despite the skin’s role as the first line of defence, it is the epidermis that provides the outer layer of which is waterproof and provides skin tone.  Furthermore, the skin is the site of vitamin D synthesis triggered by UV rays, and it functions as a detoxification organ if the liver becomes overloaded.

The dermis lies under the epidermis and contains connective tissues, hair follicles and sweat glands.

And lastly, the third layer is mainly fat and connective tissues that provide structure.


Factors that promote premature skin ageing


Premature skin ageing is the early onset of thinned and damaged skin.  It is characterised by a loss of skin elasticity, collagen, and the development of lines plus uneven skin tone, fragile skin, and thread veins.

Several factors contribute to premature skin ageing that include:

  • Excessive unprotected sun exposure, which is referred to as photodamage.  The UV rays of the sun penetrate the layers of skin and generate aggressive molecules, these molecules cause cellular damage that is known as oxidative damage.
  • Pollution and chemical-based skin care and cleaning products affect the skin by generating oxidative damage.  This oxidative damage attacks the skin tissues and underlying collagen fibres which contribute to the visual symptoms of ageing./li> 
  • Advanced glycation end products, often referred to as AGEs.  These result from the excessive consumption of charred or smoked foods besides cigarette smoke.  AGEs are formed by the biproducts of the burnt foods.  Burnt carbohydrates bind with fragile proteins such as those found in the skin and eye to product cross-linked proteins.  These cross-linked proteins shape the skin into permanent lines and wrinkles./li> 
  • Sugar laden and processed foods are low in the nutrients necessary for healthy skin and are often pro-inflammatory.  While the odd biscuit is fine, a diet that is predominantly low in nutrients is unlikely to have a protective effect for the skin.  Moreover, it may too, encourage the activity of genes that promote ageing.  Although genetics are not a life sentence, their negative impact can be enhanced through a poor diet and lifestyle.

Protecting the skin from premature ageing


Skin protecting nutrients

Key nutrients to promote skin health

The skin requires a wide array of nutrients to function in an optimal manner.  It requires nutrients that are involved in blood supply and blood vessel health, cellular health, and healing besides antioxidant nutrients to counter the damage caused from sun exposure, pollutants, and toxins.

The nutrients involved in providing a healthy blood supply to the skin are iron, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, and B vitamins. While cellular health is serviced by omega-3 essential fatty acids, phosphatidylserine, alpha lipoic acid, and B vitamins. Healing is supported by vitamin C, zinc, and selenium.  And antioxidant nutrients which include vitamins A, E and C besides zinc, selenium, manganese, and copper. Plus, botanicals such as highly pigmented herbs, spices, and berries.

Flavonoids are often responsible for the colour pigments found in fruits and vegetables, one flavonoid, Astaxanthin, the red-pink pigment derived from algae, has been shown to exert a potent protective effect on the skin.  While edible flowers such as Marigold (Calendula) are notable for their flavonoid content, especially lutein and meso-zeaxanthin which are known to exert a skin protective effect.  It is thought that flavonoids exert such a potent antioxidant effect due to their ability to store oxidant-neutralising molecules.

These nutrients can be found in a diet that is rich in a variety of different coloured vegetables and fruits, plus seeds, nuts, legumes, and wholefoods.  Omega-3 essential fatty acids can be found in algae and oily fish.  While protein is important for tissue and the underlying muscles, consider lean protein sources.



Protect the Skin - tips from Viridian 

Review your diet and lifestyle

Having a well-balanced diet will help protect the skin from premature ageing. Remove highly processed and sugar laden foods.  Alcoholic drinks are dense in calories and sugar, furthermore alcohol is an anti-nutrient, this means that it takes more nutrients to detoxify alcohol that it delivers.  In fact, the detoxification process of alcohol produces a compound that is even more detrimental that alcohol, which really does put the skin at risk.

Reconsider your skin protection practices

For skin protection consider a clean and natural SPF skin protection, apart from 15-30 minutes daily for vitamin D production, but not enough to cause the reddening of the skin.


Preventing premature ageing can be simple with a little knowledge of the beneficial foods.  By eating foods that are each colour of the rainbow as part of a varied diet, alongside some natural skin protection and avoiding highly processed foods and toxins your skin will love you.

For more information and advice on skin protecting nutrition, visit your local health food store. You can find your nearest one by visiting

Author: Jenny Carson is a Nutritional Practitioner and Technical Services Manager at Viridian Nutrition. She holds a BSc honours degree in Nutritional Science and is a Master of Research (MRes) in Public Health.

Related articles:

 Astaxanthin for Skin Health


 More on Astaxanthin


The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.


TAGS: NewsSkin, Skin Health, Sugar


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