Vitamin D lengthens Telomeres, an aging marker

Vitamin D is a steering hormone that controls the expression over a thousand different genes in your body. The primary source of Vitamin D is UV- Radiation, our skin can make Vitamin D upon exposure to UV Radiation. Though we are not the only one with this ability. Mushroom also has an ability to make vitamin D upon UV Radiation exposure and mushroom has been out in the sun and a great source of vitamin D.

There are few factors that affect our ability to produce and use vitamin D:

  1. Sunscreen: Sunscreen blocks UV Radiation
  1. Skin Pigmentation: Melanin is a natural sunscreen
  1. Age: As we age, our body became less efficient in producing vitamin D. A 70 year old produces four times less than 20 year olds.
  1. Body Fat: Body fat affects the ability to use vitamin D by reducing bioavalability of Vitamin D that is fat soluble. The more of the vitamin D store in fat, the less it is being released in your blood stream.

There is a sweet spot in Vitamin D, too much is as bad as too little. The optimum level of vitamin D in serum are considered between 30 and 80 nanograms per milliliter of serum. The best and easy way to increase your vitamin D levels is to increasing your dietary intake. Richest source of Vitamin D is fish.

Vitamin D has been shown to regulate the aging process. Telomeres are tips of chromosomes. They protect our DNA. Telomere length is a biological marker for aging. Those individuals who have low levels of Vitamin D has the shortest of Telomeres. Telomeres shortening correlated to 5 years of biological aging.

Less melanin in white people leads to less folate for blood production

Less melanin in white leads to less folate and more melanin in dark colored skin people affects Vitamin D and Calcium absorption

White people must get sunshine to help in folate absorption (folic acid – important nutrient for the blood ) while dark-colored skin people must eat whole foods rich in Vitamin D3 , calcium , omega 3 , Vitamin K2 and magnesium to protect them from diseases related to the heart and circulation/vascular system.

As a result, depression is prevalent among whites while circulatory health issues are common among dark colored skin.

See your doctor for more preventive measures.

Connie Dello Buono

The color of skin is influenced by a number of pigments, including melanin, carotene, and hemoglobin. Recall that melanin is produced by cells called melanocytes, which are found scattered throughout the stratum basale of the epidermis. The melanin is transferred into the keratinocytes via a cellular organelle called a melanosome (Figure 5.7).

This figure consists of two diagrams side by side. The right diagram shows development of light colored skin; the left shows development of dark-colored skin. In both, a brown melanocyte sits at the border between the dermis and epidermis. The melanocyte has a large nucleus and six finger-like extensions. These reach between cells of the stratum basalis. Sections of the extensions detach and travel through the skins. These are melanosomes. In the left diagram, both the melanocyte and melanosomes contain melanin particles, shown as dark dots. Melanosomes travel upwards to outer skin layers, releasing melanin. As a result, keratinocytes in the left diagram contain several melanin particles that darken skin color. In light colored skin, the melanocyte contains no melanin. It still releases melanosomes into upper layers of the skin; however, these melanosomes contain no melanin. Therefore, the skin does not darken and remains light.
Figure 5.7. Skin Pigmentation
The relative coloration of the skin depends of the amount of melanin produced by melanocytes in the stratum basale and taken up by keratinocytes.

Melanin occurs in two primary forms. Eumelanin exists as black and brown, whereas pheomelanin provides a red color. Dark-skinned individuals produce more melanin than those with pale skin. Exposure to the UV rays of the sun or a tanning salon causes melanin to be manufactured and built up in keratinocytes, as sun exposure stimulates keratinocytes to secrete chemicals that stimulate melanocytes.

The accumulation of melanin in keratinocytes results in the darkening of the skin, or a tan. This increased melanin accumulation protects the DNA of epidermal cells from UV ray damage and the breakdown of folic acid, a nutrient necessary for our health and well-being.

In contrast, too much melanin can interfere with the production of vitamin D, an important nutrient involved in calcium absorption.

Thus, the amount of melanin present in our skin is dependent on a balance between available sunlight and folic acid destruction, and protection from UV radiation and vitamin D production.

It requires about 10 days after initial sun exposure for melanin synthesis to peak, which is why pale-skinned individuals tend to suffer sunburns of the epidermis initially. Dark-skinned individuals can also get sunburns, but are more protected than are pale-skinned individuals. Melanosomes are temporary structures that are eventually destroyed by fusion with lysosomes; this fact, along with melanin-filled keratinocytes in the stratum corneum sloughing off, makes tanning impermanent.

Too much sun exposure can eventually lead to wrinkling due to the destruction of the cellular structure of the skin, and in severe cases, can cause sufficient DNA damage to result in skin cancer.

When there is an irregular accumulation of melanocytes in the skin, freckles appear. Moles are larger masses of melanocytes, and although most are benign, they should be monitored for changes that might indicate the presence of cancer (Figure 5.8).

Five photos of moles. The three upper photos show moles that are small, flat, and dark brown. The bottom left photo shows a dark black mole that is raised above the skin. The bottom right photo shows a large, raised, reddish mole with protruding hairs.
Figure 5.8. Moles
Moles range from benign accumulations of melanocytes to melanomas. These structures populate the landscape of our skin. (credit: the National Cancer Institute)
 
 

SKIN DISCOLORATION

The first thing a clinician sees is the skin, and so the examination of the skin should be part of any thorough physical examination. Most skin disorders are relatively benign, but a few, including melanomas, can be fatal if untreated. A couple of the more noticeable disorders, albinism and vitiligo, affect the appearance of the skin and its accessory organs. Although neither is fatal, it would be hard to claim that they are benign, at least to the individuals so afflicted.

Albinism is a genetic disorder that affects (completely or partially) the coloring of skin, hair, and eyes. The defect is primarily due to the inability of melanocytes to produce melanin. Individuals with albinism tend to appear white or very pale due to the lack of melanin in their skin and hair. Recall that melanin helps protect the skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation. Individuals with albinism tend to need more protection from UV radiation, as they are more prone to sunburns and skin cancer. They also tend to be more sensitive to light and have vision problems due to the lack of pigmentation on the retinal wall. Treatment of this disorder usually involves addressing the symptoms, such as limiting UV light exposure to the skin and eyes.

In vitiligo, the melanocytes in certain areas lose their ability to produce melanin, possibly due to an autoimmune reaction. This leads to a loss of color in patches (Figure 5.9). Neither albinism nor vitiligo directly affects the lifespan of an individual.

This photo shows the back of a man’s neck. There is a large, discolored patch of skin at the base of his hairline. The discolored area extends over the ears onto the cheeks, toward the front of the face. The man’s head and facial hair are mostly gray, but white patches of hair are seen above the discolored skin.
Figure 5.9. Vitiligo
Individuals with vitiligo experience depigmentation that results in lighter colored patches of skin. The condition is especially noticeable on darker skin. (credit: Klaus D. Peter)
 

Other changes in the appearance of skin coloration can be indicative of diseases associated with other body systems. Liver disease or liver cancer can cause the accumulation of bile and the yellow pigment bilirubin, leading to the skin appearing yellow or jaundiced (jaune is the French word for “yellow”). Tumors of the pituitary gland can result in the secretion of large amounts of melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH), which results in a darkening of the skin. Similarly, Addison’s disease can stimulate the release of excess amounts of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), which can give the skin a deep bronze color.

A sudden drop in oxygenation can affect skin color, causing the skin to initially turn pale (white), a condition called pallor. With a prolonged reduction in oxygen levels, dark red deoxyhemoglobin becomes dominant in the blood, making the skin appear blue, a condition referred to as cyanosis (kyanos is the Greek word for “blue”).

This happens when the oxygen supply is restricted, as when someone is experiencing difficulty in breathing because of asthma or a heart attack. However, in these cases the effect on skin color has nothing do with the skin’s pigmentation.

INTERACTIVE LINK

This ABC video follows the story of a pair of fraternal African-American twins, one of whom is albino. Watch this video to learn about the challenges these children and their family face. Which ethnicities do you think are exempt from the possibility of albinism?

Calcium and magnesium balance 60:40 ratio

7 Things You Didn’t Know About Your Skin by Amanda Greene Kelly

Taking care of your skin is probably second nature by now. You know to slather on SPF each morning and scan for new and changing moles to keep your skin happy and healthy. But despite understanding how to combat wrinkles and ward off disease, there’s a fair share that you might not know about your body’s largest organ. Read on for seven interesting facts about your skin.

1.  Your skin’s appearance and texture can give you clues about the rest of your health.

Sometimes, changes in your skin can signal changes in your health as a whole. For example, according to Brooke Jackson, MD, Director of the Skin Wellness Center of Chicago, “The hormones that the thyroid produces are directly responsible for the natural fats that protect the skin, as well as hair and cell growth and hair pigmentation.”

She explains that in a person with hyperthryroidism (when the thyroid overproduces thyroid hormone), the epidermis––the outer layer of skin––may thicken and skin may be soft. With hypothyroidism (when the thyroid under-produces thyroid hormone), on the other hand, symptoms include very dry skin and thickened skin on the palms and soles. Another way your skin can tip you off to health issues: Acanthosis nigricans, a condition in which skin around the neck darkens and changes in texture, is often associated with diabetes, according to D’Anne Kleinsmith, MD, dermatologist at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, MI.

2.  Everyone has the same pigment in their skin that’s responsible for color. 

Melanin, explains Josie Tenore, MD, SM, is a coloring pigment that is present in all people’s skin—regardless of race. “The difference in skin tone between people of different races—and between people of the same race––lies in how much of this pigment is present, and its distribution within the skin.”

More specifically, everyone—no matter how dark or pale they are––has the same number of melanocytes, which are the cells that make melanin, explains Arnold Oppenheim, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. “It’s their product, melanosomes—which contain the melanin––that differ. Some people have denser and larger ones, which make their skin darker.” Also, the denser and closer together they are, “the more protection the skin is afforded from skin cancer,” he says.

3. As we age, our skin sheds cells more slowly.

Ever wonder why children have such naturally rosy and dewy skin? While skin of all ages produces new cells which eventually move to the surface and shed off, young people’s skin does this more often, according to Dr. Tenore. “In kids, this happens every two to three weeks, which gives them that vibrant, shiny skin. But as we age, this process becomes slower. More dead cells stay on the surface, resulting in that dull, dehydrated look.”

She adds that exposure to direct sunlight slows down the sloughing off process even further because UV light decreases cellular turnover. Depending on your skin type—your dermatologist can identify yours––daily exfoliation or a topical antioxidant serum that contains retinoids, vitamins and peptides can help encourage cell turnover, according to Francesca Fusco, MD, a New York City dermatologist.

4. Stretch marks can be prevented—to a degree.

Pregnancy, weight fluctuations and even teenage growth spurts can all cause stretch marks, those squiggly lines that start out darker than your skin color and often appear on the hips, thighs and abdomen (but can crop up anywhere). When collagen and elastin initially break down, says Dr. Oppenheim, skin creates striae rubrae—red or purple stretch marks on light-colored skin—due to inflammation. When stretch marks are in this phase, applying retinoid creams to them—no matter where they appear––can “considerably lessen their appearance,” says Dr. Fusco. That’s because the medication promotes cell turnover and skin regeneration. Some older stretch marks, which are lighter in color and have indentations, can be treated with lasers to help smooth the skin, says Dr. Kleinsmith, but it depends on where they appear—ask your dermatologist if lasers can help reduce the appearance of your older stretch marks.

5. The oiliness of our skin dictates what type of hair grows in that area.

The relationship between hair and skin is a close one. “The whole sebaceous (oil) gland and hair apparatus is one unit,” says Dr. Oppenheim. “The oil gland grows out of the hair follicle, which it helps to lubricate.” But it’s the difference in the individual glands that affects hair type. According to Dr. Oppenheim, “Where we have large oil glands, which produce more oil, we have thin hairs; where we have small oil glands, which produce less oil, we have thick hair.” People have oily skin in the middle of their faces because there are large sebaceous glands there, and they have dry skin on the periphery because there are small oil glands there. This is why even men with heavy beards don’t grow hair in the middle of their faces.  

6. Age spots should really be called “sun spots.”

Those brown spots that tend to crop up with age have little to do with the passing years, and much more to do with soaking up rays. “Age spots are the result of cumulative sun exposure and subsequent damage,” says Dr. Fusco. “They appear because pigment cells have accumulated in the top layer of skin.” To prevent sunspots, apply sunscreen in the morning every single day—and every few hours afterward if you’ll be in direct sunlight. “The minimum SPF you should use is 30; be sure that it’s broad spectrum to block UVB and UVA rays.” advises Dr. Fusco. Aim to use a marble-sized amount of block for your face and a shot glass–sized amount for your body. Though age spots aren’t directly related to age, seborriheic keratosis, benign hereditary moles that usually stick out from your skin, are. They vary in color from white to black, says Dr. Oppenheim, and tend to appear on the face, scalp and torso (but can show up anywhere except your palms, the soles of your feet and your mouth) as you grow older.

7. Melanomas don’t always have color.

If you’re on the lookout for dark moles to screen for skin cancer, you’re on the right track. But malignant spots aren’t always so easy to find. “Follow the Sesame Street rule—‘One of these things is not like the other,’” says Barbara Reed, MD, a dermatologist at the Denver Skin Clinic. “Melanomas can be red, purple, flesh-colored or even white. I think I’ve seen them in every color except green,” she explains. If a mole looks funny, grows, itches or just plain makes you obsess over it, Dr. Reed recommends heading to your dermatologist for a check-up. And always tell your doctor about any other new spots or skin irregularities that you notice.

 

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