europa skin care : natural, organic & science-based skin care

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Vitamin C : What is the difference between L ascorbic acid and ascorbic acid?

In the rapidly expanding market of dietary supplements, it is possible to find vitamin C in many different forms with many claims regarding its efficacy or bioavailability. Bioavailability refers to the degree to which a nutrient (or drug) becomes available to the target tissue after it has been administered.

Vitamin C also known as, ascorbic acid, L-ascorbic acid, dehydroascorbic acid, the antiscorbutic vitamin, L-xyloascorbic acid and L-threo-hex-2-uronic acidy-lactone, is a much talked about vitamin, with people claiming it as a cure-all for may diseases and problems - from cancer to the common cold.

Yet, this miracle vitamin cannot be manufactured by the body, and needs to be ingested.

The Bioavailability of Different Forms of Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) : 
Natural vs. synthetic ascorbic acid
Natural and synthetic L-ascorbic acid are chemically identical, and there are no known differences in their biological activity. The possibility that the bioavailability of L-ascorbic acid from natural sources might differ from that of synthetic ascorbic acid was investigated in at least two human studies, and no clinically significant differences were observed.

  • A study of 12 males (six smokers and six nonsmokers) found the bioavailability of synthetic ascorbic acid (powder administered in water) to be slightly superior to that of orange juice, based on blood levels of ascorbic acid, and not different based on ascorbic acid in leukocytes (white blood cells). 
  • A study in 68 male nonsmokers found that ascorbic acid consumed in cooked broccoli, orange juice, orange slices, and as synthetic ascorbic acid tablets are equally bioavailable, as measured by plasma ascorbic acid levels.
Ester-C® contains mainly calcium ascorbate, but also contains small amounts of the vitamin C metabolites dehydroascorbate (oxidized ascorbic acid), calcium threonate, and trace levels of xylonate and lyxonate. In their literature, the manufacturers state that the metabolites, especially threonate, increase the bioavailability of the vitamin C in this product, and they indicate that they have performed a study in humans that demonstrates the increased bioavailability of vitamin C in Ester-C®. This study has not been published in a peer-reviewed journal. A small published study of vitamin C bioavailability in eight women and one man found no difference between Ester-C® and commercially available ascorbic acid tablets with respect to the absorption and urinary excretion of vitamin C. Ester-C® should not be confused with ascorbyl palmitate, which is also marketed as "vitamin C ester".

What is the difference between Ester-C and regular Vitamin C? 

  • Mostly the acidity. Regular vitamin C is very acidic, and can cause increases in your blood acidity levels.  Ester C is made so that it is non-acidic, and has more bio-flavanoids in it.  This is a fancy word for additional nutrients to allow your body to absorb it better.

Vitamin C with bioflavonoids

Bioflavonoids or flavonoids are polyphenolic compounds found in plants. Vitamin C-rich fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits, are often rich sources of flavonoids as well. There is little evidence that the bioflavonoids in most commercial preparations increase the bioavailability or efficacy of vitamin C.

The effect of bioflavonoids on the bioavailability of ascorbic acid has been examined in two published studies. A study of five men and three women found that a 500 mg supplement of synthetic ascorbic acid, given in a natural citrus extract containing bioflavonoids, proteins, and carbohydrates, was more slowly absorbed and 35% more bioavailable than synthetic ascorbic acid alone, wheen based on plasma levels of ascorbic acid over time and 24-hr urinary excretion of ascorbic acid. In that study, the ratio of bioflavonoids to ascorbic acid (weight per weight) was 4:1, which is much higher than most commercially available products. Another study in 7 seven omen and one man found no difference between the bioavailability of 500 mg of synthetic ascorbic acid and that of a commercially available vitamin C preparation with added bioflavonoids, where the ratio of bioflavonoids to ascorbic acid was 0.05:1.

Kidney Stones

Because oxalate is a metabolite of vitamin C, there is some concern that high vitamin C intake could increase the risk of oxalate kidney stones. Some but not all studies have reported that supplemental vitamin C increases urinary oxalate levels. Whether any increase in oxalate levels would translate to an elevation in risk for kidney stones has been examined in epidemiological studies. Two large prospective studies, one following 45,251 men for six years and the other following 85,557 women for 14 years, reported that consumption of ≥1,500 mg of vitamin C daily did not increase the risk of kidney stone formation compared to those consuming <250 mg daily. However, a more recent prospective study that followed 45,619 men for 14 years found that those who consumed ≥1,000 mg/day of vitamin C had a 41% higher risk of kidney stones compared to men consuming <90 mg of vitamin C daily—the current recommended dietary allowance. In this study, low intakes (90-249 mg/day) of vitamin C (primarily from the diet) were also associated with a significantly elevated risk. Supplemental vitamin C intake was only weakly associated with increased risk of kidney stones in this study. Despite conflicting results, it may be prudent for individuals predisposed to oxalate kidney stone formation to avoid high-dose vitamin C supplementation.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Selenium important for skin health

Selenium is a trace mineral with significant contribution to antioxidant activity. The primary dietary source of selenium is from plants. However, levels of selenium in plants are dependent on the selenium concentrations in the soil in which they are grown.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. In fact, over one million skin cancers are diagnosed annually and it is estimated that one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime.

In a new study, investigators analyzed the possible correlation between serum levels of select antioxidant nutrients and the development of skin cancer. In this study, serum levels of carotenoids, alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) and selenium were measured in 485 adults at the beginning of the study. The subjects were monitored for the incidence of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin for 8 years.
The results showed that higher serum selenium concentrations were associated with decreased incidence of both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin, and conversely, lower serum selenium concentrations were associated with increased incidence of both types of cancer. Furthermore, the subjects with the highest selenium levels had a decreased risk of basal cell tumors by 57 percent and decreased risk of developing squamous cell tumors by 64 percent, compared to subjects with the lowest levels. The study did not show a correlation between serum levels of carotenoids or alpha-tocopherol concentrations and incidence of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma.

The researchers stated, “Relatively high serum selenium concentrations are associated with an approximately 60 percent decrease in subsequent tumor incidence of both basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, whereas serum concentrations of carotenoids or alpha-tocopherol are not associated with later skin cancer incidence.”

Consuming foods high in selenium can support detoxification and take stress off the organs like the liver and thyroid.

Selenium deficiency symptoms include:

  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Weakened immune system
  • Infertility in men and women
  • Depression
  • Heart disease
  • Increased risk of cancer

A selenium deficiency is generally seen in areas where the soil does not contain much selenium, such as certain regions of China. A deficiency may lead to pain and muscle weakness. The RDA for selenium is 55 mcg/day and the Daily Value is 70 mcg.

Top 10 Foods High in Selenium 
1) Brazil nuts
1 oz (6-8 nuts): 544 mcg (over 100% DV)

2) Yellowfin tuna
3 oz: 92 mcg (over 100% DV)

3) Halibut, cooked
3 oz: 47mcg (67% DV)

4) Sardines, canned
3 oz: 45mcg (64% DV)

5) Grass-fed beef
3 oz: 33 mcg (47% DV)

6) Turkey, boneless
3 oz: 31 mcg (44% DV)

7) Beef liver
3 oz: 28 mcg (40% DV)

8) Chicken
3 oz: 22 mcg (31% DV)

9) Egg
1 large, 15 mcg (21% DV)

10) Spinach

1 cup: 11 mcg (16% DV)

Friday, August 18, 2017

Vitamins for Younger Looking Skin

You may eat your fruits and veggies. You may even pop a multi every day. Yet your skin care routine is still missing out on the value of vitamins. Research shows that these nutrients are essential for preventing and reversing many signs of aging. A well-balanced diet is important, of course -- eating a variety of healthy foods helps keep skin supple and glowing. But the fact is, "the body delivers only a certain percentage of vitamins to your skin, no matter how much you ingest," says Mary Lupo, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine. Plus, there's no way to send them straight to your crow's feet or brown spots. The solution: Applying vitamins topically to deliver maximum anti-aging benefits -- everything from improving texture and tone to fading under-eye circles. Follow this user's guide to the letter, and soon your skin will look better than ever.

Vitamin A: Best Overall Age Fighter

Find it in OTC lotions, night creams (vitamin A derivatives are known as retinoids), and prescription products.

Proven to reduce wrinkles, fade brown spots, and smooth roughness. "There are more than 700 published studies on retinoids -- they're tried-and-true ingredients. Anyone who wants younger-looking skin should use one," says Doris Day, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at New York University Langone Medical Center.

How to use: Apply your retinoid at night -- sunlight inactivates most forms of vitamin A. Prescription retinoids work fastest, within four to eight weeks. The downside: They're irritating, causing redness, scaling, and flaking that last for weeks or longer. OTC products are best for beginners; you'll experience fewer skin care side effects because the retinol they contain is slowly converted to retinoic acid, the active ingredient in Rx creams. To avoid irritation, apply an OTC or prescription retinoid every second or third night, at least for the first 2 weeks, and build up to nightly use. Apply sparingly; a pea-size amount is enough to cover your entire face.

Try Neutrogena Dermatologics Retinol NX Serum ($65; or RoC Multi-Correxion Night Treatment ($25; drugstores). If your skin is sensitive, two new retinoids are particularly gentle. Clinical studies show that retinyl propionate, available in Olay Professional Pro-X Deep Wrinkle Treatment ($42; drugstores), significantly improves skin after 12 weeks without being as drying as the more potent retinol. Ready to trade up to an Rx retinoid? Ask about Atralin (about $150), which contains two potent anti-aging emollients. "Even my most sensitive patients are able to tolerate it," says Day.

Vitamin B3: Boosts Hydration to Reduce Redness

Find it in lotions, creams, and serums. It's often called niacinamide on the label.

Proven to increase production of ceramides and fatty acids, two key components of your skin's outer protective barrier. "As that barrier is strengthened, skin is better able to keep moisture in and irritants out -- making B3 a great ingredient if your complexion is dry or sensitive," says Leslie S. Baumann, MD, director of the University of Miami Cosmetic Medicine and Research Institute. In one study, a moisturizer with niacinamide improved the flushing and blushing of rosacea, a common condition that can worsen with age. Another B3 skin care benefit: It inhibits the transfer of pigment to skin cells, minimizing dark spots.

How to use For maximum results, apply B3 vitamins in the morning and evening. To reduce irritation from your retinoid, use it in conjunction with niacinamide. "Mix them together in the palm of your hand before applying--they won't inactivate each other," says Baumann. Besides decreasing side effects, the combo produces superior anti-aging benefits.

Try La Roche-Posay Rosaliac Anti-Redness Moisturizer ($30; CVS) or Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream ($25; drugstores).

Vitamin C: All-Around Anti-Ager
Find it in moisturizers formulated to keep vitamin C stable (opaque, airtight containers are ideal). Look for C near the middle of the ingredients panel to help ensure the five percent or higher concentration needed to see skin care benefits.

Proven to mop up the free radicals that trigger wrinkling, sagging, and other aging changes. Vitamin C also helps smooth and firm skin and fade brown spots. In one study, women who treated sun-damaged skin with a C cream for six months saw significant improvement in fine lines and discoloration. Though the benefits of retinoids (see vitamin A) and vitamin C sound similar, using both delivers more complexion perfection. "Skin aging occurs in various ways, so you need multiple forms of defense and repair," says Lupo.

How to use Apply vitamin C in the morning before sunscreen to shield your skin from any UV-generated free radicals that get by your sunblock.

Try SkinMedica Vitamin C Complex ($85; or Avalon Organics Vitamin C Renewal Facial Cream ($21; These products contain ascorbic acid or magnesium ascorbyl phosphate (the skin-friendliest forms of C) in combination with vitamin E (it's listed as alpha-tocopherol or tocopherol acetate). This duo provides four times more protection against free radicals when applied together.

Vitamin E: Eases Dryness and Bolsters Skin's UV Defense

Find it in sunscreens and after-sun products. The best anti-aging products contain at least 1 percent vitamin E, so it will be listed near the middle of the ingredients panel.

Proven to quell dryness by helping skin retain its natural moisturizers. Also, vitamin E's potent ability to neutralize damaging free radicals has earned it the moniker "the protector." A slew of skin care studies document its superstar status. In one, E significantly reduced the number of these unstable molecules created after exposure to cigarette smoke. Others show that when it's used before UV exposure, skin is less red, swollen, and dry.

How to use Apply before and after serious sun exposure. A single strong blast of UV light can destroy half the skin's natural supply of E, so shore up defenses by slathering on a sunscreen supplemented with E and C before going into the sun -- the C helps ensure effectiveness. An after-sun salve with E helps, too, says Oceanside, CA, dermatologist Jens Thiele, MD, PhD, a vitamin E expert; some studies show that the anti-inflammatory action kicks in to reduce damage even after you've been in the sun.

Try Neutrogena Age Shield Face Sunblock SPF 55 ($9.50;, MD Skincare Powerful Sun Protection SPF 30 Sunscreen Packettes ($42;, Clinique After-Sun Rescue Balm with Aloe ($20;, or Hawaiian Tropic After Sun Body Butter ($6; drugstores).

Vitamin K: For Younger, Brighter Eyes

Find it in eye creams that also contain retinol.

Proven to possibly help lighten under-eye circles. Fragile capillaries that allow blood to leak into skin are considered one cause of under-eye circles, and vitamin K (aka phytonadione) may put the skids on this seepage by controlling blood clotting. Daily use of a K cream significantly lightened circles after four months in one study, but because the cream also contained retinol, researchers aren't sure which ingredient deserves credit for the improvement -- retinol alone thickens the translucent under-eye skin (making it harder to see the dark blood vessels below) and lightens melanin that makes circles more prominent. Still, it can't hurt to try a cream that contains vitamin K and retinol; according to Baumann, the retinol may enhance K's ability to penetrate skin and knock out darkness.

How to use Apply nightly. First allow skin to become acclimated to the retinol -- use once or twice the first week, and add a night every week after.

Try NeoStrata Bionic Eye Cream ($50;, or Jan Marini Factor-A Eyes for Dark Circles ($78;

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Caudalie Resveratrol Lift Night Infusion Cream

Caudalie Resveratrol Lift Night Infusion Cream

An award-winning resculpting and recontouring cream that works overnight, while the skin's regeneration potential is at its peak, to visibly redefine facial contours along the cheekbones and jawline.

Where to buy:
  • Sephora:  $76
Solutions for:
- Fine lines and wrinkles
- Loss of firmness and elasticity
- Dryness

If you want to know more…
Resveratrol Lift Night Cream is the winner of the Good Housekeeping “Miracle Anti-Agers” Award for Best Hero-Hydrating Night Cream. Wake up to smoother, brighter, firmer-looking skin with this cutting-edge formula that features Caudalie's breakthrough clinical patent vine resveratrol to visibly rebuild, repair, and resculpt skin. Resveratrol—the renowned antiaging ingredient pioneered by Caudalie in 1997—diminishes visible wrinkles and enhances skin firmness, with the same regenerating process that allows grape vines to live up to 100 years. Grape seed oil and organic shea butter nourish and restore skin while ceramides support the skin barrier throughout the night. Its plant cocktail of chamomile flowers, poppy, lavender water, sage, fresh mint, and orange leaves soothes and calms for visibly refreshed skin by morning.

What it is formulated WITHOUT:
- Parabens
- Sulfates
- Phthalates

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Polyenylphosphotidyl choline (PPC)

Polyenylphosphotidyl choline (PPC) is unsurpassed in relieving dry skin. This is because the chief moisturizing agents in skin are phospholipids. When we apply an unsaturated phospholipid like PPC, the moisturizing action is even more effective and powerful than that of the natural phospholipids we find in our skin.

Topical PPC provides the following benefits:
  • Acts a natural moisturizer to provide superior emollient benefits to skin
  • Helps heal dry, chapped and inflamed skin
  • Increases the appearance of a radiant, rosy glow
  • Rapidly moisturizes severely dehydrated skin
  • Helps to improve the appearance of damaged skin
PPC is found naturally in lecithin and has variety of health benefits including promoting brain activity, improving liver function.  It also enhances cognitive function. PPC helps protect the cell plasma membrane.

Lecithin Source
Lecithin is the name of fatty substances found in animal and plant tissues. Egg yolk and soy beans contain it, as well.

Lecithin Food Sources:
  • Egg yolk
  • Chicken
  • Beef liver
  • Soy beans
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Split peas
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
PPC also helps to deliver other beneficial components such as Alpha Lipoic Acid, DMAE, vitamin C Ester into the skin, while in use as a combination.

PPC tends to help and restore dry, damage, skin with cracks very fast. Topical products with PPC are helpful in the winter when skin suffers from dryness giving skin a healthy glow.