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Linoleic Acid Also Protective, Study Suggests

WebMD Health News

Vitamin C May Slow Skin Wrinkling

Oct. 8, 2007 -- An orange a day may keep the wrinkles away.

In one of the first studies to examine the impact of nutrients from foods rather than supplements on skin aging, researchers reported that people who ate plenty of vitamin C-rich foods had fewer wrinkles than people whose diets contained little of the vitamin.

Diets rich in the omega-6 fatty acid linoleic acid were also associated with less skin aging from dryness and thinning, while higher-fat diets and those higher in carbohydrates were associated with more wrinkling.

Sunflower and safflower oils and many nuts are high in linoleic acid. Byproducts of linoleic acid are plentiful in salmon and other fatty fish.

The findings are far from conclusive, but they do suggest that when it comes to skin aging, you truly are what you eat.

“Our findings add evidence to a predominately supplement and topical application-based hypothesis that what we eat affects our skin-aging appearance,” nutritional epidemiologist Maeve C. Cosgrove and colleagues write in the October issue of The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

(How do you take care of your skin? Join the discussion on WebMD's Skin Care: Share Your Tips message board.)

Expert Isn’t So Sure

But a dermatologist and skin-aging expert who spoke to WebMD remains skeptical.

Susan H. Weinkle, MD, who is a visiting clinical professor of dermatology at the University of South Florida, says it is difficult, if not impossible, to prove that specific foods affect wrinkling one way or another.

“Skin aging, especially facial aging, is remarkably multifactorial. It involves many things including genetics, ultraviolet light exposure, and lifestyle,” she says.

The study was designed and carried out by researchers from Unilever, distributor of some 400 food, home cleaning, and personal care products.

The researchers analyzed data from a comprehensive health study conducted in the United States between 1971 and 1974, known as NHANES I. Their analysis included 4,025 women between the ages of 40 and 74 who had extensive dermatologic exams designed to evaluate skin wrinkling and other aspects of skin aging.

The women also completed a 24-hour recall survey listing all the foods they ate in a particular day.

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