You don't smoke, you drink plenty of water every day, and you eat a diet that is low in refined starches and sugars and high in omega-3 fatty acids from fish, walnuts and flax seed. You apply expensive skin cleansers and moisturizers that promise ageless, beautiful skin, and you wear sunscreen whenever you go to the beach or spend extended time outside. You even wear a wide-brimmed hat, and minimize the time you spend in the sun during the Earth's peak period for solar radiation. To ensure your vitamin D (sunshine vitamin) intake, you supplement with low-cost cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) as well as ingest foods (e.g. salmon, mushrooms) rich in this critical hormone-vitamin rather than subjecting your skin to the sun's damaging age-accelerating rays.
Most people are completely unaware that more than 80 percent of lifetime sun exposure occurs unintentionally. Furthermore, those unsightly brown and tan age spots that occur on exposed areas of the skin are caused by accumulated sun exposure over many years. Unless you never the leave the house without being slathered in high sun protection factor (SPF) sunscreen or make-up with a high SPF, ultraviolet radiation is aging your skin (not to mention increasing your risk of skin cancer). And don't think your skin is safe just because you use a so-called "long-lasting" topical sunscreen that is "waterproof" – scrutiny of scientific data reveals that although newer sunscreen formulas offer enhanced resistance to the effects of sweat and swimming, these topical formulas must be reapplied frequently for maximal protection.
An amazing, natural plant extract, when orally ingested, offers the promise of additional protection against the damaging effects of incidental solar radiation exposure with a strong scientific portfolio of evidence. Polypodium leucotomos is a type of fern native to certain tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, such as Honduras. Experimental studies with extracts of Polypodium leucotomos have shown potent antioxidant effects. Other experimental studies show that Polypodium leucotomos extract reduces pro-inflammatory cytokines, chemicals that damage tissues when produced in excess.
For more than thirty years, extracts of Polypodium leucotomos have been used in Europe, Central and South America to protect against the damaging effects of skin sensitizers and ultraviolet light therapy for the treatment of patients with psoriasis, an inflammatory skin condition characterized by silvery plaques on the skin.
A clinical study showed that psoriasis patients' skin had significantly less damage from ultraviolet light when these volunteers were given an extract of Polypodium as compared with those study volunteers given a placebo. Another clinical study in patients with vitiligo (a skin condition characterized by areas of unsightly skin color mottling) showed improvement in areas of skin depigmentation when treated with ultraviolet light and 250 milligrams/three times daily of Polypodium leucotomos extract compared with placebo.
Make no mistake – supplementing with Polypodium leucotomos extract will not protect your skin from sunburn if you decide to spend 10 hours at the beach after hibernating indoors for three months of winter. However, this natural ingredient is a wonderful adjunct to an overall skin-saving regimen that helps preserve youthful skin tone and texture. Although Polypodium will not reverse the appearance of heavily sun damaged skin, this fern extract offers the promise of lessening the impact of incidental sun exposure, now and in the future, on your skin.
Since about 80 percent of our lifetime accumulated sun exposure is incidental, Polypodium extract represents a breakthrough strategy in the form of a dietary supplement that can help guard your skin from accelerated aging. Add it to your already healthy lifestyle, and you'll have the best defense against premature aging.
For more health and anti-aging tips, visit www.lef.org.