Nutritional status remains an important consideration regarding the progression of facial morphology, collagen loss and overall skin vitality. One of the essential components in skin health is the consumption, absorption and utilization of proteins.
Proteins are the primary constituent for cells that collect critical amino acids to provide structure for the development and growth of muscle, tissue, collagen, blood and keratin.
As the “building blocks of life,” proteins are what the body uses first to repair and replace tissue, regulate body processes, aid in the circulation of blood and nutrients, and maintain the body’s PH. They transmit signals to provide nutrient transport across cell membranes, which supports antibodies, fights against pathogens and provides fluid balance and structure for cells. All metabolic processes are dependent on activity from various proteins that fuel enzymes assisting in generating power for the body and to relay metabolic sequencing.
Essential Amino Acids
Amino acids are essential for both dermal and epidermal structures, and they produce the extracellular proteins and enzymes needed for the synthesis of the epidermal barrier.
Proteins are large molecules made up of complex chains of amino acids, and they are classified by the number of amino acids in a chain. The long polypeptide chains are constructed from hundreds of amino acids joined in length by specific sequences, peptide bonds and sulfur amino acid (cysteine) bonds. More than 50 amino acids are supplied by proteins, with typically 100 to 10,000 amino acids linked together to form structural units and fibrous proteins found in the skin, tendons, bone and muscle.
Essential amino acids must be consumed as food or supplements, because the body cannot manufacture them. These include arginine, histidine, leucine, iso leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine. Nonessential amino acids are formed by essential amino acids: carnitine, cysteine, glutamine, taurine and tyrosine.
Pooling Your Protein
The “amino acid pool” refers to the collection of amino acids that are available throughout the body for use when they are needed. It is influenced by the turnover of body protein, intake of dietary protein, synthesis of nonessential amino acids and the collective status of the type of amino acids.
Tissues are synthesized at a rate of 80 to 100 grams per day and do not remain constant throughout a 24-hour period. Biochemical pathways require that when the amino acid amine group is lost, amino acids need to be replaced via food consumption. Therefore, adequate protein nutrition is paramount to supply such indispensable amino acids in the body.
It is not solely the total protein gram count that substantiates the quality of protein intake, but the total amino acid profile that is consumed. Complete proteins provide all the essential amino acids, whereas incomplete proteins are missing one or more essential amino acids.
Incomplete proteins can be combined with a complementary protein to make it complete, however that requires calculating both the grams and amino acids available in your protein choices. Of the 300 grams of protein synthesized by the body each day, 200 grams are made from recycled amino acids.
Dr. Erin Madigan-Fleck, NMD, CDT, LMC, LEI, is a licensed master cosmetologist, esthetician, aesthetic instructor, dermatology tech and naturopathic doctor. A member of the American Society for Nutrition, the American Naturopathic Medical Association and more, Dr. Madigan-Fleck is also owner and CEO of Naturophoria and DermaEducationTV.