Magical Vitamin A

4
May

By Dr Des Fernandes

 

There are some chemicals that can be used to improve all Skin Groups, all Skin Types and all Skin Conditions. The first, and most important of these is vitamin A.

Vitamin A which you can find on the ingredients list as retinyl palmitate, retinyl propionate, retinyl acetate, retinol or retinaldehyde. If an ingredient contains the word retinyl then it is a version of vitamin A. In research work, these ingredients have been found to be the most effective agents in treating all the signs of photo-aging and delaying the progression of aging skin (1-3).

 

Make sure you introduce vitamin A gradually and go up to the highest levels allowed in a cosmetic. If you try to introduce a high level too quickly, your skin will object with an itchy 'retinol reaction'. Paradoxically, the more depleted the skin is of vitamin A, the more likely it is to react badly when it's introduced. Start with the tiniest doses if this happens. Restoration of vitamin A in the skin is the primary activity we, as skin therapists, should undertake, but we have to consider how much vitamin A to advise.

 

Vitamin A is sometimes considered as an antioxidant or as a peeling agent, but it is, in reality, the most important controller of skin growth, skin differentiation and maturation. It starts its work on us from the time of conception and remains fundamental to skin function until we die (4). The skin is unfortunately exposed to sunlight, so natural sun-exposed skin is always deficient in vitamin A (5). This ingredient is one of the most essential, functional and versatile in good skin care.

 

The major reason for virtually all the problems that you will see in your practice, is vitamin A and antioxidant depletion of the skin

For people who have no understanding of the fundamental nature of vitamin A and the skin, this may seem extremely strange because vitamin A deficiency can show up as oily skin in some people and dry skin in others.
(I suggest you read Vitamin A Skin Science book by Dr Des Fernandes and Dr Ernst Eiselen.)

 

 


How can the deficiency of just one molecule be the cause of so many diverse conditions?

This is an important demonstration of our differences in DNA activity. Some people manifest deficiency as oily skin because the sebaceous glands are secreting excessively. This is because they are not being controlled normally, whereas in other people, vitamin A deficiency causes loss of hyaluronic acid, poor stimulation of the sebaceous glands and all the signs of dry skin. It is simply different gene 'clouds or groups' being suppressed (or ignored) by a deficiency of vitamin A.

 

Vitamin A acts on about 1000 genes and in each of us, different genes take prominence.

Vitamin A activates growth factors and triggers keratinocytes and fibroblasts to work in harmony to deal with virtually all of the destructive forces of photo-damage on collagen and elastin and the supporting gel of glycosaminoglycans that keep the skin full, tight and elastic. It also works on the keratinocyte-melanocytes axis to keep skin colour as normal as possible and to avoid or minimise pigmented blemishes.

 

"VITAMIN A IS THE MOST MULTIFUNCTIONAL VITAMIN-HORMONE IN THE BODY, WHICH IS WHY IT AFFECTS SO MANY DIFFERENT SYSTEMS AND IS THE SOLUTION TO SO MANY PROBLEMS."

 

Make sure you introduce vitamin A gradually and go up to the highest levels allowed in a cosmetic. If you try to introduce a high level too quickly, your skin will object with an itchy 'retinol reaction'. Paradoxically, the more depleted the skin is of vitamin A, the more likely it is to react badly when it's introduced. Start with the tiniest doses if this happens. Restoration of vitamin A in the skin is the primary activity we, as skin therapists, should undertake, but we have to consider how much vitamin A to advise.

Photo-damage leads to inadequate stores of vitamin A inside the cells, and that means also that there are too few receptors for vitamin A on the cell walls. The receptors are damaged by light. Therefore, you need to advise your client to start on the lowest vitamin A dose and antioxidant products in the beginning. The low vitamin A levels are absorbed into the cell and, by applying them day after day, one starts building up the stores, and in turn, the receptors on the cell walls. Ultimately, one can then use a stronger dose of vitamin
A. Because we all have different metabolic systems, this can take a long time in some clients, whereas others rapidly develop more receptors and can enjoy the benefits and protection of high vitamin A products within a short time.

Virtually every symptom and sign of photo-aging, and a great many skin conditions, are caused by a localised deficiency of vitamin A, which has been robbed from the skin by UV light that destroys it. All the skin groups are vulnerable to developing vitamin A deficiency, but the darker the skin, the more protected the vitamin A will be. The book: 'Your Skin Factory' will help you understand this, and we recommend your client reads it too so that they understand the fundamental nature of the treatment regimen.

 

VITAMIN A MYTH BUSTING & QUESTIONS

Myth: Vitamin A will damage your liver, cause foetal malformation, skin problems and other unpleasant symptoms.

Truth: Vitamin A is the single most important antioxidant for optimal health and good skin.

Q: Why do some doctors and nutritionists believe that Vitamin A is harmful to health?


A: A “twisted” version of vitamin A (13-cis-retinoic acid) has been administered in massive doses equivalent to 300,000 iu vitamin A for the treatment of acne and this is the real risk for foetal malformations.



Q: How much should we take then?

A: I have taken vitamin A 50,000 i.u. orally, per day since 1994 because I believe that it reduces the chances for many cancers and at the same time slows down the damage of DNA.


Q: What other benefits does it have?

 
A:

  • It’s also responsible for minimising my chances for age-related hearing loss and I believe protects my telomeres.
  • I eat well and I discovered high doses of vitamin A prevent people from putting on too much fat since it inhibits the development of leptocytes.
  • Oral supplementation can be used to build up retinoid receptors in people prone to a retinoid reaction.
  • Vitamin A is essential for growth and differentiation of cells and they believe it prevents foetal anomalies. Pregnant women may need about 27,000 to 50,000 IU for a safe pregnancy
  • Vitamin A massively increases my resistance to sun damage because rich stores of vitamin A in the skin act as a very efficient protection from damaging UV rays, without interfering with natural vitamin D production..


Q: What is a dangerous dose?

A: The dose that will cause signs of intoxication is about 150,000 IU per day for a year or so. Virtually nobody uses that level. You’ll read that doses in excess of 100 000 IU daily might cause liver damage, menstrual problems, skin dryness, itchiness, irritability, vomiting, hair loss, bone and muscle pain, headache and anaemia. Vitamin A toxicity is extremely rare. If you ate polar bear liver regularly, you might be at risk of vitamin A toxicity.

 

Q: What are the symptoms of Vitamin A deficiency?

A: Vitamin A deficiency causes night blindness as the earliest manifestation. Every doctor knows of someone who has night blindness. Children are given 100,000 IU vitamin A as a stat dose at Red Cross Children’s Hospital Cape Town to try and minimise the death rate from Measles, etc.