Ageless Skin from a Pill? A Secret to Save Your Skin from Accelerated Aging


By Steven V. Joyal, MD

Stopping  Heart DiseaseYou want flawless, smooth skin.

You don’t smoke, you drink plenty of water every day, and you eat a diet low in refined starches and sugars. You consume adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids from fish, walnuts, and flax seed. You apply expensive skin cleansers and moisturizers that promise ageless, beautiful skin. Of course, you’ve heard about the dangers of excessive sun exposure and the veritable explosion in cases of diagnosed skin cancer within the past decade, so you are prudent when venturing outdoors. You wear sunscreen whenever you go to the beach or spend extended time outside, wear a broad-brimmed hat, and minimize time spent during earth’s peak period for solar radiation (generally between 11AM and 3PM in late spring,  summer, and early fall). You obtain the benefits of vitamin D from supplementation with low-cost cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) as well as ingesting foods (e.g. salmon, mushrooms) rich in this critical hormone-vitamin rather than subjecting your skin to age-accelerating solar radiation.

However, do you guard against incidental solar radiation?

Most people are completely unaware that over 80% of lifetime sun exposure occurs unintentionally. Furthermore, those unsightly brown and tan age spots that occur on exposed areas of the skin are caused by accumulated sun exposure over many years.

Unless you never the leave the house if not slathered in high sun protection factor (SPF) sunscreen or make-up, ultraviolet radiation is aging your skin (not to mention increasing your risk of skin cancer). And don’t think that just because you use a so-called “long-lasting” topical sunscreen that is “water-proof” you’re safe – close scrutiny of scientific data reveals that although newer sunscreen formulas offer enhanced resistance to the effects of sweat and swimming, these topical formulas must be re-applied frequently for maximal protection.

However, an amazing, natural plant extract, when orally ingested, offers the promise of additional protection against the damaging effects of incidental solar radiation exposure with a strong scientific portfolio of evidence.

Polypodium leucotomos is a type of fern native to certain tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas such as Honduras. Experimental studies with extracts of polypodium leucotomos have shown potent antioxidant effects. Other experimental studies show that Polypodium leucotomos extract reduces pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemicals that damage tissues when produced in excess. For over thirty years, extracts of Polypodium leucotomos have been used in Europe, Central, and South America to protect against the damaging effects of skin sensitizers and ultraviolet light therapy for the treatment of patients with psoriasis, an inflammatory skin condition characterized by silvery plaques on the skin. A clinical study showed that psoriasis patients’ skin had significantly less damage from ultraviolet light when these volunteers were given an extract of Polypodium as compared with those study volunteers given placebo. Another clinical study in patients with vitiligo (a skin condition characterized by areas of unsightly skin color mottling) showed improvement in areas of skin depigmentation when treated with ultraviolet light and 250 mg. three times daily of Polypodium leucotomos extract compared with placebo.

Make no mistake – supplementing with Polypodium leucotomos extract will not protect your skin from sunburn if you decide to spend ten hours at Fort Lauderdale beach after hibernating indoors for three months of winter. However, this natural ingredient is a wonderful adjunct to an over-all skin saving regimen that helps preserve youthful skin tone and texture. Although Polypodium will not reverse the appearance of heavily sun damaged skin, this fern extract offers the promise of lessening the impact of incidental sun exposure, now and in the future, on our skin. Since about 80% of our lifetime accumulated sun exposure is incidental, Polypodium extract represents a breakthrough strategy in the form of a dietary supplement that can help guard our skin from accelerated aging.

About Life Extension
The Life Extension Foundation is a nonprofit organization, whose long-range goal is the extension of the healthy human lifespan. In seeking to control aging, our objective is to develop methods to enable us to live in vigor, health and wellness for an unlimited period of time. The Life Extension Foundation was officially incorporated in 1980, but its founder has been involved in antiaging research since the 1960s. The Life Extension Foundation is the largest organization dedicated to investigating every method of extending the healthy human life span. When seeking methods to slow aging, The Foundation often uncovers potential anti-aging supplements to treat conditions associated with aging.

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