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Protect Against Sun-Induced Skin Aging From The Inside Out

July 2014

By Michael Downey

Enhancing The Photo-Protective Effects Of Polypodium Leucotomos

Scientists were intrigued to identify a specific extract that further enhances the potent photoprotective effects of Polypodium leucotomos. Obtained from three red orange varieties (Citrus sinensis var. Moro, Tarocco, and Sanguinello), this extract is known as Red Orange Complex and provides abundant phenolic compounds, including anthocyanins, flavanones, ascorbic acid, and hydroxycinnamic acids.46-48

Early lab studies indicated that Red Orange Complex exerts an anti-inflammatory effect on human cells, including keratinocyte cells48 —the predominant cell type in the epidermis. In cell culture studies, this complex has been shown to inhibit the growth and development of human cancer cells49 and to inhibit cell death caused by UVB rays.50

In addition, in vivo research demonstrated that Red Orange Complex provides topical photoprotection against UVB-induced skin redness.46,51 Supplementation was also found to increase serum thiol groups—which are free-radical quenchers—in individuals exposed to significant automobile exhaust pollution in the workplace52 and were also found to reduce oxidative stress in type II diabetic patients.53

Encouraged by these results, scientists conducted a clinical trial to study the complex’s photoprotective capacity. Enrolling 18 volunteers, the study team measured the effects of oral Red Orange Complex supplementation on UVB-induced damage. After 15 days, the intensity of the induced redness decreased by about 35%—demonstrating significant sun protection for the skin.51

These various outcomes demonstrate that Red Orange Complex supports Polypodium leucotomos to further inhibit the aging effects of ultraviolet radiation on the skin.

Topical Versus Oral Sunscreen
Topical Versus Oral Sunscreen

Sunscreens are generally applied in insufficient dosages such that the effective SPF is 50% or less than the labeled SPF18 and they’re seldom reapplied as required. Sunscreens do not generally block infrared radiation.56,63 Also, few people are in the habit of wearing sunscreen on cloudy days—but radiation scattering by clouds can result in higher total radiation levels on partly cloudy days than on completely sunny days. In fact, 80% of ultraviolet light can penetrate light cloud cover.64

Oral Polypodium leucotomos tropical fern extract can block UV and IR radiation at the cellular level and can inhibit the many cellular skin photoaging effects.2,5,22,26,31,33,34

Sunscreens have one key mechanism: they function at the skin surface by limiting the amount of solar radiation that penetrates deeper to trigger photoaging.

Oral Polypodium leucotomos is active at multiple levels—from the skin surface to deep inside and in between skin cells, exerting broad effects that protect skin from the effects of radiation. Working through multiple mechanisms, Polypodium leucotomos reduces photoaging by:2,5,22,26,31,33,34

  • Preventing decomposition of the body’s photoprotective molecules
  • Reducing the remodeling of the tissue matrix
  • Inhibiting oxidative stress-induced morphological (structural, form-related) changes
  • Preventing radiation-induced loss of cell-to-cell and cell-to-matrix anchorage points
  • Inhibiting several matrix metalloproteinases
  • Stimulating an endogenous tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase (TIMP)
  • Reducing lipid peroxidation
  • Protecting fibroblasts
  • Inhibiting elasticity-decreasing enzymes
  • Lowering inflammation
  • Inhibiting apoptosis
  • Scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS)
  • Repairing photoaging damage by stimulating elastin, collagen, and transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta), and
  • Preventing DNA damage.


Many people assume that protection from the skin-wrinkling effects of ultraviolet radiation must occur outside the body—but clinical research shows that an oral extract of the fern Polypodium leucotomos works deep inside the skin to protect against ultraviolet rays and block skin aging.1-3

Polypodium leucotomos has been shown in numerous studies4,5 to inhibit degradative matrix remodeling, a main cause of photoaging.6 And most striking—it exerts these effects when taken orally.4,5

This novel extract helps prevent4,5 —and even repair5 —ultraviolet radiation damage that prematurely ages the skin.

The most effective program to protect against the accelerated skin aging (photoaging) involves limited exposure to sunlight (especially between noon and 2:00 p.m.), liberal application and reapplication of a quality topical sunscreen, and regular oral supplementation with Polypodium leucotomos fern extract with Red Orange Complex to further enhance the fern extract’s effectiveness.

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

Understanding The Sun’s Wavelengths
Understanding The Sun’s Wavelengths

Different wavelengths of sunlight radiation represent different risks as follows:65

  • UVC rays —wavelengths of which range from 180 to 280 nanometers—are almost completely absorbed by the ozone layer and do not affect the skin.
  • UVB rays —wavelengths of which range from 280 to 325 nanometers and which are strongest around midday—affect the superficial layer of the skin known as the epidermis and causes sunburn.57
  • UVA rays —wavelengths of which range from 315 to 400 nanometers—were believed to have a minor effect on the skin, but studies now show that UVA penetrates deeper into the skin. UVA also makes up about 95% of sunlight, while UVB makes up about 5% of sunlight, and therefore, UVA causes more severe skin aging damage.57,66-68
  • IR or infrared radiation—wavelengths of which range from 760 nanometers to one millimeter—has only recently been determined to induce skin photoaging and skin damage.56,63,69 While the proton energy of infrared is low, the total amount of infrared that reaches human skin is massive compared to ultraviolet radiation. Most IR lies within the IR-A band—ranging between 760 nanometers and 1,440 nanometers—a band of IR that represents about 30% of total solar energy. IR-A penetrates human skin deeply with 50% of it reaching the dermis skin layer.57


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