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Editor's note: Johann W. Wiechers, PhD, of JW Solutions, opens his new series of monthly C&T Today e-newsletter features with this fresh look at nutraceuticals and nanoparticles. Check out the August issue of C&T magazine for more on these hot topics of interest.
Nutraceuticals and Nanoparticles... Not the most logical combination of topics for my very first e-newsletter column, but life is full of surprises. Its abbreviation, N.N., stands for anonymous (at least in The Netherlands), and that actually is a thing that unites these two subjects; public awareness, also known as perception, and what the reality is or could be. Let me explain.
Nutraceuticals is a new category of products that feed and nourish the skin from the inside out. Not a cosmetic that you apply to the area that needs it most, but a cosmetic that you eat. When I asked my wife today what a nutraceutical was, she could not tell me. Nutraceuticals are anonymous. When I explained to her what it was, she was not totally convinced about the world’s latest need for nutraceuticals. I did explain to her that our skin needs specific building blocks like linoleic acid and linolenic acid, which our bodies cannot produce and that they are therefore called essential. "But why not apply them in a cream? Why eat them?" is what she asked. That really got me thinking. Why eat and not apply them topically?
Of course, there is a beautiful link with essential nutrients in food. Eat your skin healthy! But I also remember having performed skin penetration experiments in which you would only get roughly 1% of a dosed amount into the skin. Would eating be better? To answer my wife’s question, I had to do some calculations. Normally, cosmetics are applied at a rate of 1 mg/cm2. Typical levels of linoleic acid in a cream would be maximally 1%, which corresponds to 1 g/100 g cream, or 10 mg/g cream.
As only 1% penetrates, this corresponds to 0.1 mg or 100 µg penetrating into the skin per square centimeter from a single dose. Is this better than eating the essential nutrient? A typical product form for nutraceuticals, if I may believe advertisements on Dutch television, is yoghurt that is sold in small pots. According to certain advertisements, every great-looking woman is bound to suffer from constipation that will make her feel (and, God forbid, look) like a balloon. Despite her shining beauty, she has a tough life--but help is nearby. She eats a pot of yoghurt every day containing a strain of beneficial bacteria and 14 days later, she will feel flat and beautiful again. Finally, she can even have a rest in the restroom.