The Link Between Antioxidants and Skin

The Link Between Antioxidants and Skin


It’s safe to say that most of us are aware that antioxidants are good for us, but what actually are they? What do they do, and why are they good for us? Is vitamin C an antioxidant? Let’s finally debunk the meaning behind this popular buzzword.

The quest to control free radicals

As with all living things, humans are mechanical systems. We possess different chemicals and tools that keep our “machine” alive and everything balanced in a harmonious cycle. When a piece of this machine goes missing or the balance becomes uneven, some damage can occur.

Free radicals are reactive molecules that can accumulate in the body and cause damage if not stabilized. “Radical” is actually a very accurate description for them, since they are missing the final electron to complete their electron pair. This causes them to be incredibly unstable and frantically search for their missing piece. They give or take electrons from other molecules in order to complete their pair, causing oxidation or reduction reactions to occur and creating oxidative stress.

Oxidative stress can cause damage in human cells, protein and DNA, which can result in accelerated aging. In fact, studies have shown that oxidative stress can also increase the risk of developing more fatal and chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, metabolic diseases and even cancer.

Free radicals can be produced naturally or induced from our own actions or environment. They are essentially waste products from physical reactions occurring in the body. We create free radicals when we breathe, digest food, or injure ourselves.

Our body can then create its own antioxidants to combat and remove these free radicals, which is pretty amazing!

That being said, sometimes we create too many free radicals for our own body to handle. Inflammation, cigarette smoke, UV exposure and even heavy exercising can increase the amount of free radicals we produce. This is where dietary antioxidants come in.

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are often referred to as “free radical scavengers” due to their ability to process and remove free radicals from the body. Maintaining a balance between free radicals and antioxidants is essential for our overall wellbeing. Although we naturally create antioxidants within our bodies, we often cannot produce enough to combat the amount of free radicals that we produce. This is why it is crucial that we include antioxidants in our daily diet.

“Antioxidant” is a very broad term for a variety of compounds that relieve oxidative stress. Polyphenols, some vitamins, trace elements and carotenoids found in food are all classified as antioxidants.

That being said, they each work in different ways – so having a mixture is the best way to build a strong antioxidant defence system!

What do antioxidants do for us?

Antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress in our bodies by stabilising free radicals. They generously donate an electron to the free radical in order to complete their pair and essentially “switch them off”. This is why the term “defence system” is often used to describe antioxidants. They literally defend our bodies from the havoc caused by wild free radicals!

Supplementing our diets with naturally sourced antioxidants is crucial in reducing the health risks associated with oxidative stress. Since our bodies cannot produce enough antioxidants on our own, it is critical that we give ourselves the gift of additional antioxidant support by consuming the appropriate foods (some of which are listed below). Numerous studies even deem antioxidant consumption as “antioxidant therapy”, due to the therapeutic effects that these healing compounds provide.

How do antioxidants help skin?

In the 1950s, the free radical theory of ageing was introduced by Dr. Denham Harman. This theory suggested that the gradual accumulation of free radical damage over time was the root cause of natural ageing. Although this theory has been further studied and modified over the years to include other external factors that can help contribute to physical ageing, the core of the theory remains true. Antioxidants play a pivotal role in reducing the effects of ageing by slowing down this natural accumulation process over time.

Specifically, plant-based antioxidants have been proven to help prevent ageing by protecting the skin from UV penetration, reducing hyperpigmentation and alleviating oxidative stress. Three main antioxidant categories that have been proven to help improve skin health include:

  • Polyphenols: Polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds that are found in fruits and vegetables. There are more than 500 different types of polyphenols, and each are digested via a different pathway in our bodies. Anthocyanins are well-known polyphenols due to their rich purple, blue and red colours. It is a general rule that the deeper the pigment, the higher the anthocyanin content – and greater the antioxidant activity!
  • Vitamins: Some vitamins, specifically vitamin C and E, have been scientifically proven to benefit the skin. Vitamin C is an incredibly important vitamin for skin health, as it is necessary for the production and maintenance of collagen. Vitamin C has also been shown to help protect the skin from UV-induced ageing, reduce hyperpigmentation and significantly increase radical scavenging activity. Since we cannot produce vitamin C naturally, we must obtain vitamin C from our diet.
  • Carotenoids: Carotenoids are naturally occurring yellow or orange pigments found in plants. They essentially serve as the light-absorbing compounds in photosynthesis, protecting the plant from UV-induced damage. Carotenoids act in a similar way in humans, protecting our skin from UV damage and neutralizing free radicals. Some carotenoids are released as vitamin A when absorbed in the body, which also provides skin-healing benefits.

Skin-loving, antioxidant rich foods

Polyphenols Kale, blackcurrants, blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, green tea, onions, red wine, and dark chocolate
Vitamin C Lemons, oranges, kiwifruit, berries, guavas, capsicum, spinach
Carotenoids Carrots, mangos, oranges, sweet potatoes, watermelon, dark leafy greens

Most fruits and vegetables contain a number of different kinds of antioxidants. Although each type of antioxidant functions in a unique way, there is no golden rule about which type is better than the other. It is generally best to include a variety of antioxidants in our daily diets in order to reap all of their natural beauty benefits!

Despite our best efforts, it can sometimes be difficult to ensure we are consuming a variety of fruits and vegetables and ensure we are getting plenty of antioxidants. Although here at Two Islands we believe that you should always look to whole food sources first for ensuring a balanced diet of vitamins (including important antioxidant vitamins), minerals and other nutrients, we also understand this can sometimes be challenging with our ever increasing busy lifestyles. This is where consciously made dietary supplements that offer support in topping up essential nutrients can be helpful in meeting our daily requirements.

Why NZ Blackcurrants?

We have chosen only the best ingredients to include in Super Beauty, our newest super hero beauty supplement! NZ blackcurrants are one of the richest sources of antioxidants in the world. In fact, due to the high UV light intensity and naturally pristine environment in New Zealand, blackcurrants grown in this country contain more antioxidant content than other blackcurrant varieties grown in the world.

NZ blackcurrants have been widely studied due to their antioxidants including their uniquely high anthocyanin and vitamin C content and their anthocyanins play a specific role in the skin to support the body’s natural production of collagen to improve complexion and fight against the signs of ageing.

Research has also shown that anthocyanin-rich blackcurrant extract can significantly improve skin levels of collagen as well as elastin and hyaluronic acid. In addition to their beauty benefits, the antioxidants in NZ blackcurrants have been proven to help decrease the effects of lung inflammation from asthma, reduce muscle damage during exercise, improve our eyesight and sharpen our focus during times of stress. Scientists continue to investigate and discover more potential health benefits of this superfood of superfoods.

Now that we understand what antioxidants are and how they work in our bodies, we invite you to soak in all of the beautiful wellness benefits that our NZ blackcurrants and other effective ingredients have to offer in Super Beauty. Partnered with scientifically researched Dracobelle™ Nu (an organic extract from the Moldavian dragonhead plant), biotin, zinc, silica and hyaluronic acid, NZ blackcurrants play an important role in our ultimate plant-based beauty booster for supporting healthy skin, strong nails and luscious hair.

NZ blackcurrants also serve as the perfect complement to our Two Islands Marine Collagen powders and capsules, so feel free to include Super Beauty as a part of your daily wellness ritual. Your radiant skin will thank you!