AUG 2014

DAYSPA is the business resource for spa & wellness professionals! Each issue covers the latest in skin care, spa treatments, wellness services and management strategies.

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52 DAYSPA | AUGUST 2014 Protein Power Start with Amino Acids To understand the protein system, imagine traveling into an individual protein. There you'll fi nd the basic building blocks of life, otherwise known as amino acids. Explains Ron Cummings, CEO of AminoGen- esis ( "Amino acids are ubiqui- tous and as essential to life as water. Each protein is made up of a specifi c sequence of amino acids in a particular molecular structure." Collagen, for example, consists of a linear chain of amino acids comprising 1,000 or more links. Type I collagen con- tains 20 amino acids. The most common are glycine, proline, alanine, hydoxyproline and glutamic acid. There are 28 types of collagen but only three of them, types I, III and IV, are prevalent in skin. Skin proteins are constantly breaking down and being regenerated. "When new collagen is needed, for example, cells gather the necessary amino acids," says Cummings. "If the proper number and type of amino acids are not available, the process stops. Amino acids have a short lifespan, so the body needs a constant supply." Amino acids such as arginine, lysine or glycine can be used in making all kinds of proteins, from collagen to neurons. If amino acids are in short supply, rebuild- ing collagen may take a back seat to repairing cells in more critical organs. Where does your body get the amino acids it needs? Mostly from the proteins you eat. Skin health starts with a good diet that contains a full contingent of vital proteins (see "Essential Amino Acids", right). Diet isn't the only way to supply our skin with amino acids, however. We can also provide them via topical skincare products. "Amino acids like proline, alanine, serine, arginine and glutamic acid support healthy cell function and can be supplied in topical skincare formulations to supplement dietary sources and the body's production of amino acids," confi rms Alexis Mayne, director of R&D and formulations for Sanítas ( "Amino acids have been shown in multiple studies to penetrate into the dermis for effective utilization by the skin." Yes, but can topical amino acids reach the basal layer where fi broblasts generate collagen? Cummings says they can. "Skin is a protective barrier, and its No. 1 function is to protect the inner organs from harmful substances in the outside world," he acknowledges. "Few things can pass through the skin barrier and get to the dermis. Protein molecules are much too large. However, amino acids can, because most are just 150 or so daltons (a measure of atomic mass used mainly in biochemistry). Things larger than 500 daltons can- not easily pass through the skin barrier." Many of the treatments estheticians offer clients break down proteins and create the need to regener- ate them. "Amino acids should be a part of every skin treatment," says Heathman. "We need to put these essential elements back into the extra cellular matrix (ECM), which is the channel that allows the dermis and epidermis to communicate. We need topicals with amino acids and peptides on a daily basis to see anti-aging results." Essential Amino Acids All 23 protein-building amino acids are L-stereoisomers, which means "left-handed isomers." That's the meaning of the "L" before amino acids you might see in a list of ingredients in a skincare product. "Essential" means they cannot be synthesized by the body but must be supplied through diet and/or skincare topicals. The eight essential amino acids* are listed below, along with their top dietary sources: • Phenylalanine – Pork, beef, turkey, veal, lamb, salmon, various fl ours • Valine – Egg whites, watercress, spinach, seaweed, elk, turkey • Threonine – Watercress, spinach, moose, turkey, tilapia, egg whites, soy • Methionine – Egg whites, certain fi sh, lobster, crab, elk, turkey, chicken • Leucine – Soy, seaweed, elk, egg whites, chicken, tuna • Isoleucine – Egg whites, turkey, soy, chicken, lamb, crab • Lycine – Chicken/turkey breast meat, certain fi sh, watercress, seaweed, parsley • Histidine – Game meat, certain fi sh, turkey, chicken, pork, kidney beans *Some sources cite nine essential amino acids, with the inclusion of tryptophan, found in egg whites, dried spirulina, dried Atlantic cod, soy beans and Parmesan cheese. "We need topicals with amino acids and peptides on a daily basis to see anti-aging results." © DAVID FRANKLIN/GETTY

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