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Archive for November, 2010

Recognition of the impact of biotin on nails led me to think about other ways nutrition can affect  skin health.  There are of course  dozens of food based beauty claims, like salmon, berries and olive oil hold the key to beautiful skin.  Are there any respected peer-reviewed studies that show what if any foods can affect how your skin ages?

The short answer is yes.  And the  most impressive data comes from the  iconic National  Helath and Education study (NHANES).  This massive ( 32,000 adults) nationwide study  examined  food intakes  and  evaluated them in terms of many health problems like heart disease, cancer,  and blood pressure, and fortuneately  for us, skin aging. 

NHANES  looked at three key signs of aging — wrinkles, dryness, and saging.  Their conclusions sent  me running to the nearest supermarket.   The #1 beauty nutrient  turned out to be vitamin C.    Women  who reported the highest  vitamin C intake  had the fewest signs of skin aging.  That’s really not that surprising, since vitamin C is well-known for its role in collagen formation.  In addition  vitamin C is an anti-oxidant  that reverses UV damage.

But it get even more interesting.  These benefits were seen  only where diets were rich in vitamin C, not where  vitamin levels  had been elevated by supplements.  In other  words, its in that glass of OJ or bowl of tomato soup  that delivers this beauty vitamin. 

The Recommend Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C is a modest 60mg– the amount in  a small cup of strawberries.   Recent research suggests that 3-5 times the RDA may be additionally beneficial to health.  Best sources of vitamin C include broccoli, cauiflower, red bell peppers, red cabbage, berries and of course oranges.

Next post:  What is the real beauty oil?  Hint, its not olive oil.

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Biotin is a type of vitamin ( actually vitamin B7) that is found in many different foods including liver, cauliflower, salmon, carrots, bananas, and yeast.  Eggs, soy flour, and nuts are especially  high in biotin.

True biotin deficiencies are very rare, occuring  in people with epilepsy, smokers, burn victims,  and elite athletes.  ( no, no, no and definately not me).   However  diabetics  may have an increased need for biotin– and I do have type 2 diabetes. 

However biotin is not easily absorbed  and even if the  daily intake is adequate, your body may not be getting what it needs.  Neither the US  nor Canada have issued nutritional guidelines for biotin.  Accordingly  they have estimated daily requirements at 30-100 micrograms.

I made a field trip to   my neighborhood vitamin store.  When I said I needed  biotin for brittle nails, I was immediate shown  a selection of products that claimed to benefits  both hair and nils.  Most of the products  were kind of a  witches brew of  over 20 different  ingredients– vitamins, minerals and some things I never heard of.   They were all over $25 and contained way too many ingredients  for my comfort zone.  I walked over to the “B” aisle ( all products starting with  letter B) and found a very large selection of plain Biotin that ranged from 300 to 5000 micograms.  Prices were alot better too.  To avoid overdosing with Biotin, I selected  a bottle of 100 tablets of  300mcg.  Since daily needs are at the most  estimated at about 100 mcg,  300mcg, seemed about right to overcome  a nutritional weakness.   Price was a comfortable $8.  I was  a little troubled that when I asked for  advice at a vitamin store, I was immediately shown  a product that was  more than 3X  the cost of a better option.   My takeaway it that you really need to do your research BEFORE  going  to buy supplements.

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Biotin for Broken Nails

I’ve never had any problem with my nails– until now that is.  In the past six weeks my nails have gone from strong and shiny  to soft and brittle.  I’ve tried two different nail hardeners with no luck.  Doing a little online research, I learned that  low levels of  Biotin are linked to broken nails.  This is not a rumour or an urban  nutrition myth,  but a link backed up  by  well designed peer reviewed studies.

Best sources of Biotin are eggs, soy beans and nuts.  Ah a clue!  I try to avoid soy products,  limit  nuts ( calories) and since the summer salmonella outbreak, avoided all eggs.  Since my nail problems started six weeks ago and it takes several months for nutritional deficiencies  to show, the timing is right.  

There are  nail care products  formulated with Biotin, but  since nails cannot absorb vitamins from the surface, this is not an option.  My solution?   Add biotin to my diet.  My  choice   is increasing food sources food sources or taking a biotin supplement.  Normally I  would  add  biotin rich foods like a couple of hard bolied eggs.  Most nutritional studies have shown that the health benefis of a nutrient are only available from food sources rather than a pill.  However biotin is one of the rare nutrients ( vitamin C is another)  that can be effective in a supplement.

So now the question becomes — how much biotin do I need?  There is no RDA for this b-vitamin, so how do I know how much  I need? Or for that matter how much would be too much?  Have you ever tried biotin for your nails?  How much did you use?

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This is getting a little boring.  Using  this Retin A  2x a week  is not causing problems– but I’m not feeling it.  Where is the glow?   I’m beginning to believe  that the generic ( read cheap) Retin A does not  have  what it takes to get the job done.  I’ve committed  to using the product for at least eight weeks  to  see changes in facial imaging from Dr Katz.  I think I’m going to give  into the temptation  and apply it every other night for a few weeks, then step it up to  every night.

Lets see what happens.  I know my face is going to be  rough and irritated, but  if the end point is  healthier skin, its worth the trouble.  I have been talking to  women who have been using  Retin A “for years” and who  are not impressed with the results.  I’m beginning to wonder if they are  using  this type cheaper generic Retin A formulation that just don’t have the juice.

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I had my first shot of baby Botox on Monday  and took after pictures on Wednesday night.  According to Dr Marmur, the full effect has not yet developed, but 48 hours after getting “tox”, I can  see a clear difference. The lines  at the sides of my chin  and cheek are visibly diminished  creating a firmer  more youthful contour. 

   BEFORE BOTOX

I am pleased that an anti-aging product worked  as promised, but I’m still giggling about the Botox high.  Apparently this is a well known effect, but nobody writes about it.  Have you had this reaction to Botox? 

The maximum benefits  should be produced by next week and I’ll post those results too.  I’m also curious  how long will  it last.  Three months?  Six months?  How long  did the wrinkles stay away for you?

                             AFTER BOTOX        

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No, Baby Botox, is not Botox for babies.  It means a very low Botox concentration  to erase wrinkles that stills leaves  a full range of  expression and movement.  On Monday I had  an injection of “baby Botox” into the marionette lines at the sides of  my chin. Sitting on the examination table, I was so scared my knees were quivering.  Dr Marmur told me to push out my lower jaw and frown.  I could feel a little rush with each jab of the Botox injection.  Almost instantly, my anxiety level was replaced by  an awesome sense of contentment.  Zoloft could certainly take a few lessons from Botox.

The full impact will not be  seen for a few days, but within six hours I could see a remarkable difference.   I have loved the life I have had — my  family,  work,  friends and travel– but when I caught my reflection  in a mirror, it was a face I didn’t really recognize.  Today I keep   glancing in the mirror and see the girl I  knew.  I just can’t stop smiling.   Truthfully, I am so pleased with the results I am wondering where else I could use this true age eraser.  I don’t know if its the relaxation effect or the  clear benefits, but its almost addictive.

Good results are extremely dependant on the skill of the doctor giving the shot. One of the best ways to find a talented doctor  is  through the results of their work on people  you know.  I actually met Dr Marmur through a friend who showed up at  lunch looking like her  younger sister.  Laura  had gone to Dr M  and  seeing her smoother, fresher face  gave  me confidence   to go though with it.

Baby Botox cost $250, about the price of yet another jar of high end goop that would not make any difference.  On Friday, I will post the before and after photos that changed my frown lines into rather sweet dimples.

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I’m learning  how to deal with this uber-strength Retin A.  I’ve stepped back  and now  using it every three days, rather than every other day.  The white flaky bits  are gone  and I can see a bit of a glow– rather than a chalky pallor.  When  we think of aging, wrinkles and lines are what  usually come to mind.  But its that dull  pale skin ( a combo of  a slow down in circulation and  increased dryness) that is making the skin  seem old and tired.   Every cell in my body  wants to  speed up  my anti-aging project– but I’ve learned to respect the process and  take it  slower.

I wait a full hour  between washing my face and applying the new Retin A.  After applying a pea size blob, I  top  it with   light coating of Cereve PM lotion.  I treat my lips with a smear of Aquaphor and the skin tight feeling is gone.  The weather  has also been milder which can be contributing to the improvments.  But this balmy weather is not going to last much longer– and when it becomes  cold and windy, we’ll see how well I can really handle my Big Girl Retin A. 

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