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Antioxidants are nothing new to skin care, they have been used in personal care products for decades, mainly in the form of vitamins A, C and E. In the past few years, however, innovation has let to a new generation, or “Generation Z,” of antioxidants. Here, Julie K. Salmon, MD, a dermatologist at Southwest Skin Specialists, discusses innovative antioxidants that are particularly beneficial in skin care.
Ergothioneine as a Scavenger
“Antioxidants serve as just another line of defense for skin; they can reduce photodamage,” said Salmon, who noted a high level of antioxidant power in ergothioneine. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, ergothioneine is a crystalline betaine C9H15N3O2S that is found especially in ergot and blood; it is also called thioneine.1
According to a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, L-ergothioneine is a stable antioxidant found in food plants, as well as in animal tissue under relatively high levels of oxidative stress. In a comparison of L-ergothioneine with idebenone, researchers found L-ergothioneine to be more efficient in inhibiting lipid peroxide formation than coenzyme Q10 or idebenone. They reported the L-ergothioneine directly scavenges free radicals and protects cells from UV-induced ROS.2
Salmon also has found ergothioneine to act as a powerful antioxidant, especially when tested via the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) method. “On the ORAC testing, it scored in the order of 60,000; the coffee berry came in at 16,000,” reported Salmon, who noted this is a high level of antioxidant ability.
Keratinocytes have receptors for ergothioneine and can internalize it, said Salmon, adding, “The receptor is the door to get into the cell; therefore, it is believed that ergothioneine can be utilized within the cell.” While many antioxidants are working around the extracellular matrix, ergothioneine can penetrate it.