5 Reasons Your Skin Might Be Aging Faster Than You Realize + A Healthy Aging Supplement

mbg Beauty and Lifestyle Senior Editor By Alexandra Engler
mbg Beauty and Lifestyle Senior Editor
Alexandra Engler is the Beauty and Lifestyle Senior Editor. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department.
Closeup portrait of a woman with gray hair and fine lines

Premature aging. Dun-dun-dun. 

For skin care fans, it's one of those things we just try our best to avoid. Not that aging is bad (it's not; in fact, it's a lovely thing), but most of us would simply like to age optimally and naturally. Meaning: Let's not accumulate more excessive skin damage than we need to, no? 

The thing is, however, there are a lot of reasons skin could be triggered into aging overdrive. And because of that, there are a lot of things to mind when you think about healthy aging. And listen, before we start: Just because you slip up here and there (like, say you skipped a few years of SPF in your youth) or certain elements are out of your control (stress, for example, isn't always an easy thing to manage) doesn't mean that a wrinkle will pop up overnight. 

No one is perfect with their skin, and that's OK; what you can do is be mindful of how the world around you affects its aging—and help it thrive to the best of your ability. 

Here, we dive into why your skin may be aging faster than you think it should: 

1. Sun exposure

This should really come as no surprise to you that UV damage is, uh, not great for skin health. Excessive sun exposure (sometimes called photodamage) is one of the main causes of premature aging. 

UVs have an impressive ability to trigger free radical damage in the skin. "Skin photoaging is a result of the oxidative stress from UV radiation," board-certified dermatologist Kautilya Shaurya, M.D., previously explained to us. This damages our DNA, depletes collagen, elastin, and ceramides, as well as increases our pigmentation production, perhaps leading to sun spots.

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2. Stress

Stress is a major skin trigger for many conditions, including acne, eczema, and, yes, wrinkles and aging. Here's why: The onset of stress triggers the fight-or-flight response. As more circulation is diverted to other organs, such as the heart, brain, and lungs, blood flow is taken away from your skin. When this happens, your skin cannot produce collagen as effectively—resulting in less plump, bright-looking skin. 

"Less collagen is produced in high-stress states since more of the body's resources are used to combat stress and the inflammation it produces," says board-certified dermatologist Gary Goldenberg, M.D., assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

Not to mention over time, chronic stress can lead to inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress further depletes our collagen levels and contributes to premature aging.

3. Lack of sleep

It sounds oh-so-cliche, but beauty sleep is real. Our sleep is the prime time our bodies are able to recoup and regenerate. Yes, this goes for your skin, too. In fact, at night your skin goes through a major regenerative process. In fact, it's the most important time your skin goes through cell turnover and collagen production. When you don't get enough valuable sleeping hours, your body can't properly renew your skin cells, collagen, elastin, ceramides, and the like.

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4. Inflammation-prone diet

Inflammation runs amok in our bodies, contributing to illness, chronic conditions, skin issues, and so much more. One primary way we introduce inflammation to our diet is through food.

"Regarding inflammation: Our body is on a roller coaster of high and low blood sugar spikes and labile insulin levels, which can lead to skin sag, inflammation, and chronic disease," writes Keira Barr, M.D., about eating for younger-looking skin. "Chronic inflammation is at the root of chronic disease systemwide, and your skin is no exception. Inflammation can worsen rosacea, psoriasis, and eczema and can also weaken the collagen and elastin in your skin over time, leading to skin laxity, poor wound healing, and uneven tone and texture."

5. Pollution

The skin acts as a shield against pro-oxidative chemical and physical air pollutants—and the day-to-day exposure adds up, with high levels of various pollutants having profound negative effects on the skin. There are a handful of common air pollutants—particle pollution (or, particulate matter), Ground-level ozone (or O3), carbon monoxide, and nitrogen dioxide—related to skin issues, and they tend to affect the skin in the same ways. However, their effects are largely the same: damaged skin cells, premature aging, and overall lack of vibrancy.

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What you can do about it:

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Well, you know, other than address the above with lifestyle changes, you can help your skin perform optimally with proper supplementation. This helps because even when you don't get a good night's rest every night or perhaps your diet leaves room to be desired (we all have our things to work on), we can still feel confident that your cells are being nourished internally. 

mindbodygreen's nr+ is a smart skin care supplement that supports your cells at the cellular level through its namesake nicotinamide riboside (NR). This is a form of vitamin B3 that when ingested is converted into a coenzyme called nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). NAD is needed for proper cell functioning, energy, and youthfulness as it aids the cells' mitochondria. When our natural levels of NAD decline, it is thought to contribute to the aging process. Two recent human trials on NR-containing supplements found that they both effectively increased levels of NAD+ in the body, which is promising.*

It also contains astaxanthin, a potent antioxidant that helps neutralize free radicals and can even help manage oxidative stress.* To give you an idea of just how powerful, the free-radical-fighting effect of astaxanthin is up to 1,000 times higher than that of many of its fellow antioxidants. There are also phytoceramides, which can help support moisture levels. In one study, participants with clinically dry skin who took a phytoceramide-rich wheat extract oil for three months saw up to a 35% improvement in skin hydration. Finally, there's rhodiola, an adaptogen that helps your body adapt to stress.* These super herbs can adapt to what your body needs—whether it be a bit of energy when you're fatigued or a way to calm a stressful situation—and help manage your cortisol levels to stave off fatigue.*

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