The following is an excerpt from The Willner Window radio program, January 2, 2005. The Willner Window can be heard every Sunday afternoon, from 2 to 4 pm, on WOR (710 AM), or over the internet, www.wor710.com.
Arnie: Good afternoon everyone, this is .... Welcome to The Willner Window. For those of you who might be first-time listeners, the focus of this show is nutritional supplements–vitamins, herbs, homeopathic remedies–and their proper usage. With me this afternoon is . .
Now, last week, we spent a lot of time responding to the question "why do we need to take nutritional supplements? Why can't we just get what we need from food?"
This week, we are going to start the program by telling you about a study demonstrating the value of nutritional supplements in protecting the skin and eyes from oxidative damage. . . . a scientific study, well controlled, that looked specifically at the benefits of supplements, not food.
Sam: Why did they look at the skin and eye, specifically? The reason they gave is that the outer layer of the skin is exposed to a peroxidative environment that includes air pollutants and ultraviolet light. Free radicals play an important role in skin aging and in the pathogenesis of several human diseases, such as coronary heart disease, cataract formation, and skin cancer.
To counteract this oxidative injury on the structure of lipids and proteins, human skin is equipped with a network of enzymatic and nonenzymatic antioxidant defense systems, including tocopherols, ascorbate, polyphenols, and carotenoids. These compounds, when administered either topically or orally, exert an antioxidant/protective effect on skin and skin cells.
Arnie: So the object of this study was to evaluate the in vivo photoprotective activity provided by different nutritional supplements, composed of various antioxidant vitamins. They did this by using a group of healthy volunteers who smoked, and were willing to expose themselves to the sun for periods of time. The effect of this oxidative stress was measured through tests on bloods serum, vision functions, skin lipids and skin hydration.
Dr. Podell: They prepared two different antioxidant formulations, but the main difference between the two, as it turned out, was that one was higher in lutein than the other.
The antioxidants included were lutein, ascorbic acid, vitamin E, alpha-lipoic acid, carotenoids, lycopene, and polyphenols. Each participant used a topical sunscreen and moisturizing cream as well.
Each subject took the assigned supplement, ate the same balanced Mediterranean diet, and were exposed to the midday sun for two hours a day. The control group did the same, but did not take supplements. The study lasted for two months.
Arnie: The results were impressive. I'm going to quote from the paper:
"In accordance with our previously published results, the antioxidant compounds used seemed to have a positive influence on the oxidative stress of all the treated subjects.
"In fact, the oral intake for 8 weeks of both the mixtures of the antioxidants used in product A (lutein, a lipoic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin E) and product B (carotenoids, polyphenols, vitamin C, and vitamin E) sensibly reduced the oxidative stress (ROS reduction) in serum (-40%, p <0.005) of sun-exposed subjects. This ROS [ROS stands for radical oxygen species, . . . what we would call free radicals] reduction is dose dependent and probably reflects a reduction of the oxidative effects of solar radiation on the skin."
Sam: The authors go on to point out that, "In accordance with our early studies, the protective activity of the antioxidants taken by oral route seems to be directly proportional to the dose, to the time, and, of course, to the carrier used."
They found, apparently contrary to what they expected from earlier studies, that the free-radical protective effect on blood serum was not too dif