If there is one thing we all can agree on it’s this: we want younger looking skin!

And judging by the myriad face creams, facials, lasers, and injectables on the market, most of us are willing to spend time and a lot of money to get it.

But if you’ve tried a few of these products (or procedures) you’ve likely been underwhelmed. Even the very expensive treatments don’t have the kind of results most people want and expect.

And as a long-time functional medicine practitioner and acupuncturist, I can explain exactly why…

These treatments only go skin deep. 

If you want the kind of radical results that get everyone asking “What are you doing differently?!” you absolutely must address your skin’s aging from the inside out. 

We need to go beyond topical treatments and take a look at what is happening on a cellular level to actually change the way your skin looks as it regenerates itself. To do this, we need to talk about your mitochondria. 

Stick with me – today I will explain what your mitochondria are (in a simple way) and how you can help them function better for younger looking skin from the outside in, no 27-step skincare regimen required!


How the Mitochondria Give You Youthful Skin

Mitochondria are one part of the many cells that make up your entire body. You might remember from high school biology that the mitochondria are like the batteries that charge up your cells. Mitochondria churn out ATP (Adenosine triphosphate), the fuel your cells use for energy. 

Research has shown that mitochondria become less efficient as we age. When researchers looked at mitochondria in skin cells from young, middle-aged, and older patients, they found mitochondria function was lower in middle-aged adults and even lower in the older group. 

The lower mitochondrial function left the aging skin cells more vulnerable to the effects of damaging compounds known as reactive oxygen species (ROS)—otherwise known as free radicals. Free radicals damage the skin cells, leading to a dry, wrinkly outer layer and premature aging over time.  

On the other hand, robust mitochondrial action helps protect skin from damage and recover quickly – think of the way a kid’s skin heals after a cut. That’s why, as we age and mitochondrial function naturally decreases, we start to see fine lines, wrinkles, sagginess, and discoloration set in. 


Protecting Your Skin From The Sun

One HUGE source of skin damage throughout life is UV radiation from the sun. The problem is twofold. First, too much sun exposure weakens the mitochondria and the energy production in skin cells sputters out. This changes the skin—and not in a good way. The sun damage leads to premature skin aging. 

But in addition to this, the mitochondria—when they’re working well—serve as nature’s sunscreen helping to protect your skin from sun damage even when it is exposed. That’s why it can feel like all the sun damage from you teens and twenties finally appeared when you turned 30!


How To Have Beautiful Skin 

The healthiest thing you can do for your skin is to rejuvenate your mitochondrial health.  One of the best ways to do this is with a powerhouse nutrient called NAD+ (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide). Your mitochondria use NAD+ in order to make ATP. Without enough NAD+, your cells can’t create the ATP that provides the energy to defend against free radicals, which leads to skin damage. 

Plenty of NAD+ equals plenty of ATP, which in turn results in gorgeous skin. Since NAD+ levels drop with age, an NAD supplement is an important part of aging skin care. 

NAD+ also boosts levels of sirtuins, a family of proteins that can protect your skin against inflammation. Redness and puffiness are signs your sirtuin levels may have taken a nosedive. Scientists call this inflammaging, meaning the inflammation that happens as you age.  

Keeping the mitochondria happy and healthy by using NAD+ also can lengthen your telomeres. These are caps at the end of your chromosomes, just like the caps at the end of your shoelaces that keep them from unraveling.

As you age, your telomeres grow shorter. UV radiation from the sun also shortens telomeres in the skin. The more you can do to protect your telomeres, the healthier your skin will look. 

The best bet? Use NAD+ both orally and topically on your skin itself. An oral NAD supplement will include nicotinamide riboside or nicotinamide mononucleotide. In addition, there’s a liposomal NAD+ product, and NAD+ is also included in Thorne Collagen Plus, along with other skin healthy ingredients.


Other Mitochondrial Support Supplements

You’ve probably noticed that many topical skin health product contain antioxidants like vitamins C and E and coenzyme Q10. Antioxidants like these help to protect the mitochondria from free radical damage. 

But just using these antioxidants topically misses the mark – it’s when used internally that they can have the greatest anti-aging effect. 

However, you don’t want to just start popping tons of mitochondrial support supplements – it’s better to work with a functional medicine practitioner who can isolate the nutrients you’re low in and focus on those.

Having said that, here are some mitochondrial rejuvenators worth talking about with your provider. Each of these supplements either protect the skin against stress, act as antioxidants and defend against too many damaging ROS, and soothe inflammation. 

  • Adaptogens 
  • Alpha lipoic acid 
  • Coenzyme Q10 
  • Curcumin
  • Probiotics 
  • Carnitine 
  • Glutathione 
  • Magnesium 
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Vitamin B12 
  • Vitamin C 
  • Zinc 


Avoid Things That Damage the Mitochondria

You might have noticed that when you don’t get a good night’s sleep, your skin suffers. Or when you’re going through a lot of stress your skin lacks that healthy glow. Think about how much older presidents look when they leave office compared to when they first took over one of the most stressful jobs around. 

Lack of sleep and stress can spell trouble for the mitochondria. In fact, their impact on the mitochondria may be the reason why each of these things can get in the way of healthy looking skin. 

The sex hormone estrogen also protects the mitochondria at the same time as it keeps the skin looking young, so as levels start to decline with premenopause, the mitochondria can suffer. This is why it’s a good idea to work with a functional medicine provider to balance hormone levels.

Toxins are another source of mitochondrial damage. Toxins are all over the place: in your food, your water, the air you breathe. We’ll talk more about the role of toxins in mitochondrial health in an upcoming blog post. 


The Secret to Gorgeous Skin

Want skin that looks and feels younger and healthier? As a functional medicine provider, I can help you maintain your youthful appearance by ordering the right tests and then choosing the right supplements. That’s why I invite you to reach out to me for a free 15-minute troubleshooting call to find out the best course of action for you. We’ll start there, and if you come on board as a client, I’ll order a full lab work-up. Our strategy is to give you healthy skin from within so your good-health glow will turn heads wherever you go.