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Appearance of wrinkles is a tell-tale sign that you are becoming an older soul. Who wants those? It appears everybody is trying to keep off these signs by all means these days. Thankfully, there are numerous products out there that are said to be beneficial in fighting this and promoting youthful appearance. Some of this work, at least to a degree, and others simply do nothing. Retinol is one of those miracles that many people are now turning to for reversing the effect of aging. You will find here all you need to know about this compound.
What is retinol?
Retinol is a form of vitamin A – specifically referred to as vitamin A1. It is obtained from food and is also available as a dietary supplement. This substance and other vitamin A derivatives are collectively described as retinoids. It performs its functions in the body through retinoic acid and retinal into which it is converted.
Discovered in 1909, retinol was first isolated in 1931. Dutch researchers David Adriaan van Dorp and Jozef Ferdinand Arens are credited for being the first to produce a synthetic variant of the vitamin. It is regarded among the most beneficial and safest essential medicines recognized by World Health organization.
The natural compound belongs to the group of vitamins that are described as fat soluble. This type is absorbed through the walls of the intestines and stored in the body, especially in the liver. The absorption of vitamin A1 is similar to that of fat. What this means is that anything that can inhibit fat absorption can also affect it. Fat-soluble vitamins do not leave the body in quick fashion as their water-soluble counterparts.
Fighting skin aging with retinol
Perhaps, we will not be exaggerating stating that the benefits of retinol for the skin are nearing legendary status. There are numerous skincare products on the market that feature this ingredient, according to their manufacturers. It ranks among the most-studied remedies for promoting healthy, younger looking skin. It assists in addressing probably the most noticeable effects of aging.
Environmental factors, such as the sun, toxins and pollutants, are in no way friendly to your skin. They cause it to lose its glow and freshness. The impact of these factors is further aggravated by aging. Cells become warped as the years go by and their functions reduce. Retinoic acid, the active form of retinol, is easily absorbed by the skin. It penetrates the cells and sets off repair and rejuvenation from within.
Different studies done in the past four decades, or so, have confirmed the amazing benefits retinol can offer the skin. The very tiny molecular structure enables it to penetrate deep into the skin. This way, it helps to improve skin elasticity and moisture while also smoothing lines and wrinkles. Vitamin A1 improves skin surface and addresses irregular skin tone.
Another way retinol is believed to help slow aging is by boosting synthesis of new collagen. This is quite useful for maintaining youthful look because its levels drop with age. It can aid in clearing pores and getting rid of acne. You can also get help from it in fighting keratosis pilaris.
Other uses of retinol
This vitamin is not only about making you look younger on the outside. It also promotes your health from the inside. Its other uses include:
Glycoprotein synthesis – This process needs retinol to function effectively. You are likely to have low amounts of glycoproteins in your body if there is problem with the production process. This could give rise to corneal ulcers.
Vision – Vitamin A is highly regarded for its role in promoting good eyesight. This is why it is sometimes included in an eye symbol on some food packages. The protein RPE65 converts it into 11-cis-retinal in the pigment epithelium. This finds its way into the retinal photoreceptor cells and functions as a sort of light-activated switch. Low amount of retinol can make it difficult seeing in the dark.
Epithelial cell function – The ability of epithelial cells to work optimally depends on the availability of vitamin A. You could suffer xerosis when you have low levels. In this case, cells that produce keratin replace those that secrete mucus.
Immunity – Retinol is also crucial for efficient functioning of your immune system. It ensures the integrity of epithelial tissues, which serve as a physical obstacle to infections. It also plays a role in the maintenance of several immune cells, including lymphocytes (e.g. T-cells), and myelocytes (e.g. macrophages).
Iron metabolism – This is relevant given how crucial iron is for red blood cells in humans. Retinol helps with healthy formation of red blood cells. A deficiency leads to issues with iron metabolism, which helps to regulate iron homeostasis at cellular and systemic levels.
It is also said the vitamin A promotes tooth and bone development. It also plays a role in reproduction. Experts say its level determines the amount of human growth hormone (HGH) that the body produces as well.
Measurement and dosage Of Retinol
Like most other vitamins, retinol is measured in International Units (IU). The equivalent of an IU is about 300 nanograms or 0.3 micrograms. Recommended daily amount for adult male is 900 micrograms while that for a female is 700 micrograms. The maximum daily limit for adults is 3,000 micrograms.
Sources of Retinol
Retinol is obtained from natural dietary sources. It is present in virtually all foods that contain vitamin A. Examples include:
- Leafy vegetables
- Richly colored fruits
- Dairy products
- Cod liver oil
- Liver of animals
Of course, the compound is also available as synthetic supplements. The production of pure retinol is done in oxygen-free and low temperature settings due to high sensitivity to oxidation. It is stabilized as the derivatives retinyl palmitate and retinyl acetate when sold as supplements. The marketing is done under a wide variety of names, including:
Dangers of Retinol overdose
Be warned that side effects are likely when using retinol. This arises mainly from taking the compound in very high amounts. It results in a condition known as hypervitaminosis A – markedly high levels of vitamin A in the blood. It is said that this potentially fatal toxicity can result when you use up to 25,000 IU, or more, per kg. The problem can be acute or chronic in nature. Its symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Weight loss
- Menstrual issues
Improper use of retinol by pregnant women may also give rise to problems. Vitamin A is fat-soluble and as such is stored in the body. High amounts in the diet of expectant mothers have the potential to lead to birth defects.
Use of preformed vitamin A is also likely to increase the risk of developing osteoporosis. Surprisingly, a 2007 review of studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that supplementation with the vitamin raised the risk of death by 16 percent.
You will therefore be doing yourself a whole lot of good by speaking with your doctor before using any retinol supplement.
Buying and using retinol-based products for anti-aging
You may have observed that the emphasis is usually on topical solutions when thinking of enjoying the anti-aging benefits of retinol. It comes as lotions, creams, serums, oils or moisturizers. We provide below some tips on how to approach these products for the best outcomes.
Check your regimen – It is important for you to take a careful look at what you have in your beauty cabinet before proceeding with retinol use. The assistance of a dermatologist or another knowledgeable professional in this area will be better. Some of the products you already use may react adversely with this compound. These include certain medicated cleansers, scrubs, exfoliators and astringents.
Choose the right formula – The quality of experience or results to expect from whatever product you settle for will depend on the specific formula. Over-the-counter products will be more appropriate if you are trying retinol for the first time. These offerings will enable your body to get used to the substance in that the concentration is lower. This can be helpful in avoiding the problem of irritation. The only thing you may have issue with is how long you have to wait to see desired results.
Prescription retinoid products may be more fitting for individuals who have used OTC variants for some time and desire something better. These ones are usually significantly more powerful and, of course, attract higher prices. Popular brands of these Rx formulas include Renova and Avage.
Pay attention to package – You should pay attention to the container in which you have the retinol product you intend buying. The ideal one should be air-tight and non-transparent. This is because vitamin A degrades when it is exposed to air or light.
Use carefully – Caution is advised in how you use retinol on your skin. It is important to apply it in moderation to guard against possible irritation. A tip to help you know whether you have applied too much is to touch a tissue on the skin. If this sticks, you need to reduce the amount you use next time. You should try to avoid sensitive skin areas, such as the eyelids.
Protect against the sun – The use of retinol products may make your skin to become more sensitive to the sun. You want to reduce how frequently you expose your skin to sunlight when using such. The common advice is to ensure you always apply sunscreen every time. This should be a broad-spectrum offering with an SPF of at least about 30.
However, some experts say the sun only reduces the efficacy of the ingredient. Either way, the best time to use retinol is before you go to bed every night.
Take things slowly – For your own good, make sure you do not try to achieve results overnight. This can drive you into using excessive amounts of the vitamin, exposing you to adverse reactions. When just starting with retinol, some experts suggest that you use it every over day or every three days. However, certain users may have to use it more frequently, based on their special needs.
Precautions When Taking Retinol
Be informed that waxing and retinol do not go together. Having the two at about the same time can cause your skin to suffer unusual redness. You therefore want to put a space of several days between the two skin treatments.
Also, the skin of some individuals cannot tolerate a retinol product, except the strength is so low to almost become negligible. This is a reason some professionals advise to use mild cleansers and exfoliators to put the skin in the right state.
Retinol is a great substance that can help control the effects of aging on the skin. It also contributes to health in other ways. We have to say that the vitamin isn’t sufficient on its own to help you achieve a younger appearance. You still need other skincare products for the best results, just that you have to be careful of the ones you use. A dermatologist can guide you more appropriately on what other products to combine with this one.