Lipofuscin is the technical term for “age spots” or “liver spots”. Age pigment or lipofuscin, is a typically brown pigment that tends to increases with the stress of aging. According to researchers, lipofuscin has been referred to as a “terminal toxin”, meaning it increases proportionately to oxidative stress and aging.
Although aging is one of the major contributing factors, the formation of age spots can be increased or preventing according to various factors such as diet, lifestyle and other stressors. For example, the consumption of unsaturated fats, inadequate diet resulting in deficiency of vitamin E and B6, and exposure to excess estrogen and iron can all increase their formation.
How are Age Spots Formed?
Age spots, or lipofuscin are formed during oxygen deprivation, which can occur for a number of reasons. One way the cells experience a lack of oxygen; also known as hypoxia, is under the influence of estrogen. Estrogen steals oxygen from the mitochondria, which suffocates the cells, stresing them to the point of damage or death. Another way is from reduced iron which attacks unsaturated fats causing them to oxidize.
Melanin (skin pigment) is produced by polymerization of amino acids, with copper as the catalyst. Copper also supports the electron transport chain and the cellular consumption of oxygen. However, as we age iron tends to accumulate and replace copper, contributing to both oxygen deprivation and a lack of melanin.
Fortunately, the causes for lipofuscin can be greatly reduced and in this article we want to share with you how you can address them and naturally prevent lipofuscin.
Tips for Naturally Reducing Age Spots
Vitamin B6: Riboflavin or vitamin b6 is a powerful vitamin for slowing human aging.Also known riboflavin, vitamin b6 has been found to significantly prolonged lifespan and also increased the reproductive abilities of flies in study. Additionally, the same anti-oxidative stress effects of riboflavin have been found to enhance the activity of powerful antioxidants like superoxide dismutase and catalase, which inhibits the accumulation of lipofuscin. 1
Lowering Estrogen: High estrogen, especially when combined with a low concentration of progesterone, is known to create all of the pathological changes that are involved in the aging process; skin aging especially. On a cellular level, estrogen causes an interference with oxidative metabolism (energy production), it steals oxygen from the cell (hypoxia), increases the cells affinity to water (edema) and combined can cause great damage to our cells. This is no exception for the cells that make up our skin, and under the influence of estrogen, skin cells are likely to become weak, lose their tone and age more rapidly. In these ways, estrogen can cause the formation of lipofuscin. Therefore it is important to avoid excess exposure to estrogen to protect your skin from age spots.
We suggest avoiding the chronic, heavy use of alcohol considering it is very estrogenic, cannabis is also a phytoestrogen and belongs to the same family as hops. Most commercial plastics are estrogenic and the commercial personal care products most people use contain many, many estrogen mimicking substances. This is why we suggest ditching the conventional, toxic personal care products for a truly natural, organic skincare line. Our products at Alitura are free of the estrogenic parabens, phthalates, stearates and other endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Reducing Iron: Iron is a metal that accumulates in the tissue with age and is very reactive and damaging. When iron levels are high, it can interfere with the natural functioning of the cells and tissues and greatly increase the rate of lipid peroxidation. Similarly to the way iron can rust any metal it spends too long in contact with, accumulated tissue iron can “rust” or oxidize our skin and organ tissue.
Considering its accumulation with age and reactivity, we suggest taking proactive steps to minimize iron exposure. Despite mis-information, most people are not low in iron, they are usually low in vitamin E (which is destroyed by iron) and copper, which gives rise to the symptoms of anemia. We do not recommend supplementing with iron, especially considering most supplements are in their “free metal” form, which are very reactive and can destroy or oxidize other minerals. Instead, focus on getting thyroid function into optimal working condition, since it is the thyroid that regulates mineral balance. For reducing or avoiding excess iron, give blood from time to time, avoid iron supplements, drink coffee when eating iron rich foods (this inhibits iron absorption) and do not use cast iron, use copper, stainless steal and glass instead.
Avoiding Unsaturated Fats: As we discuss in great detail in this earlier post, unsaturated fats, particularly the polyunsaturates are very damaging to the skin. Lipofuscin has been found to be directly related to the oxidation of unsaturated fats that progressively decreases a cell’s adaptive capacity by damaging its structural integrity. For example, unsaturated fatty acids are known to increase the rate of lipid peroxidation, which can weaken skin cells, leading to tissue damage that contributes to age spots. PUFA are also estrogenic in many cases, so avoiding them will both reduce estrogen’s damaging effects as well as reduce oxidative damage. 2
- Vitamin e: According to research, vitamin E, especially in combination with methylene blue is another proven way to reduce skin pigmentation (age spots). There are many antioxidant mechanisms that both of these substances provide, but they also have anti-estrogen effects. And as we learned, estrogen is a driving force behind skin aging and age spots. 3
Despite its name, age spots are optional and do not have to occur with age. Although we will all experience the aging process, the rate at which we age is highly subjective and something we can greatly accelerate or slow depending on the way we live. Adhering to the tips in this article are just a few simple ways you can slow the aging process and help your skin age more gracefully.