Theories of aging: What you need to know

A recent article published by DailyBeauty explored five well-known theories of aging: inflammation, lifestyle, hormones, antioxidants, and detoxification. Though all are worthy of discussion, perhaps the most important theory, mitochondrial decay, was not mentioned. This dark horse in the race against skin aging – and indeed aging more generally – deserves the attention of women who are motivated to look and feel their very best at every age.

The mechanism of aging has long been an area of intensive research, and although a number of theories have been proposed, mitochondrial decay has widely become regarded as the leading cause of skin aging.

The concept may sound complicated, but it is surprisingly simple. Mitochondria are the energy-producing organelle of every cell. Cells make up every organ and all living cells have mitochondria. In fact, there are thousands of mitochondria per cell. Their primary job is to generate ATP, or fuel, through various energy cycles that involve nutrients and vitamins. ATP is needed for every movement, thought and action we make, yet very little ATP can be stored in the body.

In the natural process of oxidation (turning oxygen into energy), the mitochondria generate free radicals – highly reactive, unstable molecules that cause damage to healthy cells, leading to internal aging as well as the appearance of visible signs of external aging. As we age, the mitochondria become larger, less efficient and fewer in number. As such, ATP production declines and may eventually lead to cell death.

As organs cannot borrow energy from one another, the efficiency of each organ’s mitochondria is essential to its repair processes and functions. If an organ’s mitochondria fail, then so does that organ. The skin is the largest organ in the body, so the enhancement and protection of actual mitochondrial function is instrumental in preventing and slowing skin aging.

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