Topical Vitamin E Boosts Skin Antioxidants

The skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight, air pollution containing free radicals and ionizing radiation, all of which deplete antioxidant levels in the skin. More than one million cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the United States.

Researchers applied natural vitamin E to the skin of hairless mice 24 hours before exposing them to a high dose of UV radiation (10 times the minimal dose needed to cause reddening).

Levels of vitamin E and other antioxidants increased substantially in the epidermis and dermis of mice, boosting protection against UV radiation. Vitamin E levels in the epidermis increased by 62 times and in the dermis by 22 times. Vitamin C levels increased by 40 percent in the dermis, glutarhione by 50 percent in the epidermis and superoxide dismutase by 30 percent in the dermis. Free radical levels were lower in mice given topical vitamin E.

Vitamin E increases antioxidant defenses in the skin, at least in part, by bolstering the "antioxidant network" and recycling other antioxidants. Higher levels of antioxidants may reduce antioxidant damage to, and' aging of, skin.

Lopez-Torres, M., Thiele, J.J., Shindo, Y., et al. "Topical application of alpha tocopherol modulates the antioxidant network and diminishes ultraviolet induced oxidative damage in murine skin," British Journal of Dermatology (1998). Vol. 138 pp. 207-15.

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