Updated 05/21/2012 07:20 AM
Your Health: Stop aging in its tracks
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Skin changes are the most visible sign of aging. Obvious signs of aging include wrinkles and sagging skin. Skin changes are related to genetic makeup, environmental factors, nutrition and other factors. The greatest factor though is sun exposure.
This can be seen by comparing areas of your body that have regular sun exposure with areas that are protected from sunlight.
Mercy Medical Center
Natural pigments provide some protection against sun-induced skin damage. For example, blue-eyed, fair-skinned people show more aging skin changes than people with darker, more heavily pigmented skin.
As you age, the outer skin layer thins, even though the number of cell layers remains unchanged. The number of pigment-containing cells decreases, but the remaining melanocytes increase in size. Aging skin thus appears thinner, more pale and clear.
Those who have large pigmented spots (often called age spots, liver spots or lentigos) become apparent in sun exposure. Also, the blood vessels of the dermis become more fragile, resulting in bruising, bleeding under the skin.
Finally, sweat glands produce less sweat and make it harder to keep cool, putting you at an increased risk for becoming overheated or developing heat stroke. Growths such as skin tags, warts and other blemishes are also more common in older people.
Aging can have many implications on your skin. For example, since your skin is thinner as you age, it can cause breaks or tears, or blood vessels can burst. However, most people are more concerned with their skin's appearance as they age.
Retinoic Acid is a nutrient that that body needs in small amounts to function and stay healthy. A form of all-trans retinoic acid made in the laboratory is put on the skin to treat conditions such as acne and is taken by mouth to treat acute promyelocytic leukemia. Skin creams that contain retinoic acid help reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
You can also try natural alternatives like Pycnogenol. Pycnogenol is a natural plant extract from the bark of the maritime pine tree which grows exclusively along the coast of southwest France in Les Landes de Gascogne. It represents a natural combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids and organic acids.
A recent study at Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine, shows that supplementing 75 milligrams of pycnogenol a day for 12 weeks increased production of a compound that makes skin smooth by 44%.
Some foods can help your skin look younger. Spinach contains lutein and just four ounces can increase skin elasticity by 38 percent. Also, vegetables and fruits give skin a glow better than a suntan.