How Do Antioxidants Help My Skin?

Today’s Question: I’ve heard a lot about antioxidants being good for your skin, but I’m not sure what they are and what they do? Heather, Warsaw

A: In simplest terms, Heather, antioxidants are vitamins and minerals that help to prevent damage to your skin. Antioxidants are needed to help fight free radicals in the environment and slow down the aging process. The antioxidants essentially stick to the free radicals before they can cause damage. Heather, think of the way a sliced apple turns brown when it’s exposed to the air. This is known as oxidation. If you put lemon juice (Vitamin C) on the apple to protect it from the oxidation, the apple is preserved. In similar fashion, this is the way antioxidants protect our skin from the harmful effects of the sun, environment and pollutants which cause fine lines and wrinkles.

I recommend my patients use a medical-strength Vitamin C serum, like Obagi’s Pro-C, daily to protect their skin from premature aging by providing the maximum antioxidant protection it truly needs from the sun’s harmful rays and environmental damage. In medical scientific studies, Vitamin C is listed in the top four most critical products to use on the skin to help with anti-aging, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Also included in the list are Retin A (another antioxidant) and sunscreen of at least 30 SPF. Since we are constantly shedding skin cells, it is vital to protect our skin daily with an antioxidant. Just as sunscreens protect your skin on the outside, antioxidants protect it on the inside. Vitamin C serums can also increase collagen production, brighten the skin and improve needed moisture and hydration to improve the skin’s tone and texture. It is vital when selecting a topical Vitamin C product to look for one that uses stabilized L-ascorbic acid – the only form of Vitamin C that can be effectively absorbed by the skin. Topical Vitamin C also comes in a variety of strengths. It is important to discuss with your medical skin care provider which is the appropriate strength for your skin type.

In addition to topical antioxidants, it is essential to incorporate antioxidants into your diet as well. Just as topical antioxidants fight premature wrinkling, eating antioxidants can help protect your body from disease. Look to add to your diet a colorful variety of vegetables and fruits such as blueberries, cherries, pumpkin, nuts, avocados and spinach. The best-known plant-based antioxidants are vitamins A, C, E and selenium.

Heather, I hope this helps you better understand the important role antioxidants play in our overall health. Talk to your medical skin care professional about how you can incorporate antioxidants into your daily routine.

Jennifer Kauffman is a Board Certified Nurse Practitioner, practicing in Warsaw and Ft. Wayne. She is a sought after speaker at medical conferences such as the American Academy of Plastic Surgeons. Jennifer is a member of American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and Coalition of Advance Practice Nurses of Indiana. She received her Nursing and Nurse Practitioner degrees from Goshen College, and Indiana Wesleyan University. Jennifer is a Clinical Instructor nationally to physicians and nurses on sclerotherapy.

Do you have a question for Jennifer, about this article or another cosmetic skin care issue? Please call Vein Institute & Medical Spa at 574-267-1900 to have your questions answered and considered for future columns. Questions can also be submitted online at

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