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Phytoceramides Skin Rejuvenation From The Inside Out

November 2014

By Michael Downey

Why You Need To Replace Age-Diminished Ceramides

Because ceramides are bioactive lipids,25 they are involved in much more than the appearance of the skin—and their age-related decline represents more than a mere cosmetic problem. Full functionality of the skin—which requires adequate ceramides and intact barrier function—helps regulate body temperature, synthesize optimum amounts of vitamin D, and provide critical sensory input from the environment.26-28

By contrast, falling ceramide levels expose one to health risks due to greater susceptibility to contact dermatitis from environmental chemicals, infectious microorganisms, and altered permeability to topically administered drugs.4,18,29 As shown in research, the outer layer ( stratum corneum) in aging human skin has decreased moisture content17,30,31 with greater susceptibility to inflammation32 and infection.19

Scientists have also determined that as humans age, their skin’s diminished lipid content—mostly a decreased level of ceramides4—results in reduced structural integrity.10,17,33 This loss of structural integrity exposes the skin to a greater threat from environmental assaults, such as low humidity, solvents, and detergents, and a much lower capacity to recover from them.11

Research suggests that the decline in ceramide content in mature skin4 may stem from a decline in the enzyme activity that normally promotes the delivery of ceramides in a usable form to the skin.34

To inhibit the loss of skin ceramides—and the wrinkling, moisture loss, and multiple health risks that occur as a result—it is essential to boost ceramide levels not just on the surface where lotions sit, but deep inside the skin cells beneath the stratum corneum.

In addition, maintaining youthful levels of ceramides in all layers of the skin promotes more than better appearance and feel—it powerfully blocks skin infections18 and other skin diseases.4,11

The Skin’s Structure
The Skin’s Structure

The outer layer of your skin (epidermis) plays a key role in maintaining homeostasis,45 the internal process that automatically modulates internal conditions to keep them constant and stable throughout your body. The skin surface, or stratum corneum, serves as a barrier between the external environment and the internal body. This barrier prevents water loss due to evaporation and inhibits foreign insults.9,45

Scientists often describe the structure of the stratum corneum as “bricks and mortar.”45 About 90% of the stratum corneum surface is made up of cells called keratinocytes.46 These are the “bricks” of the skin barrier.

Between those cells are intercellular lipids that are made up of ceramides, free fatty acids, and cholesterol, all of which constitute the “mortar” that holds the “bricks” of your stratum corneum together.9 Ceramides comprise up to 50% of this vital intercellular material.44

This brick-and-mortar structure effectively prevents transepidermal water loss,9 unless impaired by damage to the stratum corneum, a tragic effect of skin aging.

Protection Against Skin Infections And Diseases

Lipids at the skin’s surface, including ceramides, comprise a major part of an antimicrobial barrier, the first line of defense against infection. Age-related deterioration of this barrier raises the risk of numerous health conditions.11

For example, atopic dermatitis is characterized by reduced ceramide concentrations in the stratum corneum.12,35 Scientists suggest a correlation between this reduction and higher concentrations and colonization of Staphylococcus aureus in atopic dermatitis.12,36,37 This can be especially concerning because when skin barrier function is disrupted—as it is with diminished ceramide content—S. aureus has an increased potential for causing infections.38 In addition, disruption of skin barrier function is a risk factor for infection with various microorganisms including Streptococcus pyogenes.39

A scientific investigation into the pathogenesis of allergic contact dermatitis and other inflammatory skin conditions found that repairing the breakdown in the ceramide barrier, while continuing topical medications, could greatly alleviate atopic dermatitis.40 This is especially significant, because the topical corticosteroids and other immunosuppressive agents of mainstream therapy involve toxicity risks.

Summary

Ceramides are natural skin-based lipid molecules that have shown critical importance in preserving skin’s youthful appearance and texture, as well as providing strong defenses against skin diseases.

Their essential role is in the maintenance of water-retaining properties of the skin, protecting against water loss of both physical trauma and aging.

With age, the presence of ceramides in the skin decreases. However, topical creams that contain ceramides have shown only modest effectiveness.

When taken orally, phytoceramides are transported deep into the cells of all layers of the skin and work from the inside out.

Rigorous clinical studies show that oral wheat-derived phytoceramides increase skin hydration, smoothness, suppleness, and other measures of youthful skin. Ceramides may also protect against skin-based infections and diseases.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.

References

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