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As people age, and the thinning of skin is noticed, and wrinkles and lines appear, it is not unusual for the affected person to seek out supplements and expensive procedures in an attempt to look the way they did in their youth.

The proper care of skin should start in infancy. Often the effects of not properly taking care of the skin cannot be reversed and the clock can only be turned back so much. Genetics do play a great part in the speed at which the skin ages but then so does one's lifestyle and skin care routine. 

The effects of the sun cannot be ignored. The benefits of sunscreen and sunblock cannot be overstated. Ultraviolet light from the sun- UVA or UVB, not only prematurely ages the skin, but also can lead to cancer. Ultraviolet light breaks down elastin fibers and collagen in the skin leading to sagging skin and wrinkles. The rays of the sun, from the spring through to the fall, can damage the skin and are strongest between 10 am and 4 pm. If the sun cannot be avoided during these seasons and these times, then a broad spectrum sunscreen, which will protect against UVA and UVB rays, should be applied. The sunscreen should have an SPF of at least 30. If the product can be used on a baby it will say so on the label. For babies though, it is advised that sunscreens made specifically for them be sought out. Most children can use certain sunscreens when they are passed the age of 6 months. For additional protection a hat should be worn.

Applying a moisturizer for one's skin type, be it oily or dry skin etc, should be part of the daily routine. Most people use a specific moisturizer for their face and another for all other parts of their body. It is recommended that the day-to-day moisturizer that is used on the face be one that also contains a sunscreen. Our faces are exposed more than other parts of our bodies- even in the winter.

Quit smoking. Many of us have seen those images of the effects of smoking on the skin. Cigarette smoking does prematurely age the skin. It also prematurely ages the skin of those around you if you are the smoker. Smoking affects blood flow to the skin. Levels of vitamin A and vitamin C are reduced and these are some of the vitamins that are important for healthy skin.

Drink lots of water. While we often hear that we should drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, (8 ounces of water in each glass), most of us find this quite difficult to do. Numerous studies now state that one does not need to drink that much water. However, if you can drink that much water in a 24 hour period- Great. If you cannot, make sure you drink enough water so that you are never thirsty. If you feel thirsty at any time you are already dehydrated- as can occur while exercising vigorously. The body needs water to function properly and this includes moisturizing the necessary tissues and carrying nutrients and oxygen to cells. Another way to tell whether or not enough water is being drunk is by the color of the urine output- it should be a "faint yellow" and not "concentrated".

A good diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, certain sea foods and juices will put one on the right track to having better skin. Vitamins A (or beta-carotene), C and E, seleniumomega-3 fatty acids and zinc all affect the overall health of our skin.

Beta-carotene and vitamins C and E are anti-oxidants which help protect the skin cells from the damage of free radicals and thus decrease the chances of premature aging. Foods that contain beta-carotene include carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach and red and yellow peppers. Alternatively, low-fat dairy products are a great source of vitamin A, as are dark green vegetables. Foods that contain vitamin C include red bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, oranges and papaya. For high levels of vitamin E consume raw sunflower seeds, blueberries and walnuts. 

Selenium, another anti-oxidant, since it helps create enzymes that prevent oxidation, is also important to the skin. Some studies suggest it may even help wounds heal faster. Brazil nuts and tuna are great sources of selenium. 

Omega fatty acids prevent the skin from drying out thus keeping it moisturized and looking younger. Essential fatty acids act as a barrier to harmful substances- allowing nutrients to reach the cells and therefore promote the regeneration of new cells. Salmon, mackerel and sardines are sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Good sources of the two essential fatty acids, alpha linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3, and linoleic acid (LA), an omega-6, are green leafy vegetables, walnuts, sunflower oil and evening primrose oil.   

Zinc is important for healthy skin and enables the skin to heal like it should. A deficiency in zinc has been linked to poor wound healing, acne and dermatitis. Zinc also helps strengthen the immune system. Good sources of this mineral include beef, beans, oysters and crab.

Anthocyanin containing products such as pomegranate juice are beneficial since anthocyanins also help protect collagen from oxidative damage.  The B vitamins help keep the skin healthy by helping to replace dead skin cells and strengthening the skin. Their sources include eggs, chicken and asparagus.

Green tea contains the anti-oxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that helps prevent cell damage from free radicals- detoxification. Studies have also shown that green tea protects the skin from sun damage.   

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The statements here are for informational purposes only. They are not meant to be used in place of the recommendations of your healthcare professional. Most of the products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. They are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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