How does science know whether eating a balanced diet or drinking collagen imparts an anti-aging effect in skin? Cosmetics & Toiletries posed these questions and others to renowned dermatologists Zoe Diana Draelos, M.D., and Alan Dattner, M.D. Following are excerpts adapted from part II of our five-part podcast series, "How Nutrition Impacts Beauty." Hear more by clicking on the podcast at the bottom of the page.
Follow additional podcasts in this series on: "How Nutrition Translates to Beauty" (part I); "Nutricosmetic Successes and Stumbling Blocks" (part III); "Consumer/Client Interest in Nutricosmetics" (part IV); and "How Epigenetics and the Microbiome Factor In" (part V).
Cosmetics & Toiletries: How can researchers measure adequate nutrition and its translation to skin, hair or nails?
Draelos: One of the problems with research measuring adequate nutrition is that we do not know what the optimal amount is for optimal health. If you look at labeling on the back of foodstuffs, it says “minimum daily requirements.” And we know that if you are vitamin D deficient, you might get rickets; or in the case of a child, you may become bow-legged.
But what about a 50-yr-old female? What are your vitamin D requirements?
We do know that vitamin D requirements increase dramatically after the age of 50. As a matter of fact, many perimenopausal symptoms that were attributed to estrogen deficiencies, including moodiness, depression and loss of energy, are also indicators of vitamin D deficiency.
The whole area of nutrition is pretty much unregulated; nutritional supplements are not closely examined for what they offer. That is an area that medicine in looking at very closely. Eating for optimum performance is not something that has been established. Therefore, there are very few research measures that allow us to look at someone and make [nutritional recommendations].
Dattner: A lot of tools have been developed, for example, to measure the degree of skin wrinkling with profilometry. A lot of major cosmetic manufacturers even have their own patented software that’s secret. [Assessments are also made] by having people judge individuals presenting with differing degrees of wrinkling and aging changes. Using these techniques, you can make measurements on people you’ve treated [with certain vitamins or food types] for several weeks.
What usually happens is people have a somewhat dramatic change but the overall change is not as dramatic; just one or two people get more dramatic levels of change.
You also can look at oxidative damage in a number of different ways; tissue elasticity using a variety of different devices; water accumulation in skin; etc. All of this can give you data over a period of weeks or months as far as changes. So yes, there is data on this.