In the 16th century, Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory bathed in virgin blood because she thought it would keep her young. More than four centuries later, Kim Kardashian had her own blood drawn, then injected back into her face to smooth wrinkles, a procedure which, not unlike Báthory’s effort, is in no way scientifically proven to preserve youth. Humans will do some truly insane things in the quest to look younger.
While our obsession with looking as young as possible isn’t going anywhere, the good news is that science and technology have started to catch up to our longtime fixation. How easy would it be if there were just a pill we could pop to tackle aging that would keep us looking 10 years younger?
Surprise: This pill may already exist. Maybe. Kind of. It’s not one miracle tablet, but there’s an increasing amount of awareness surrounding vitamins and supplements that can actually help to slow the skin’s aging process. They work better than topical antiaging treatments, which “Band-aid” a problem rather than actually treating it, says Be Well Health Coach Jackie Damboragian. “When you take nutrients internally, you are improving your health from the inside, which is then reflected on the outside.”
Certain nutrients in your body disappear as you age—that’s what causes the drier, more wrinkle-prone skin, the fine lines, the sallow look, all signs of aging. “[Vitamins and supplements] can help give your body nutrients that are depleted as you age,” Damboragian explains. So while they aren’t going to make you 25 again, they can replace the nutrients your skin becomes deprived of as you get older.
That said, don’t snatch up some wildly expensive “antiaging” pill off a dark corner of the Internet. If you want to reap the benefits of pills, you’ve got to know what to look for.
Damboragian recommends CoQ10, also known as ubiquinone. “As we get older, the body’s ability to convert CoQ10 into ubiquinol diminishes,” she says. “This can lead to lower cellular energy and less protection against damage from free radicals, reducing your ability to deal with the typical signs of aging, including changes in your skin.”
Glutathione, the body’s most powerful antioxidant and detoxifying agent—it even keeps all the other antioxidants in your body doing their jobs—is another one that declines naturally with age. “Low glutathione levels have been linked to every major aging process in the human body,” confirms Damboragian. Both CoQ10 and glutathione can be found in dietary supplement form, and while it doesn’t matter whether you take a comprehensive formula or take each vitamin individually, you can find them together in Swanson Ultra L-Glutathione with CoQ10 ($7.19).
So should we be tackling aging from the inside out, popping pills rather than slathering on retinoids every night? It’s probably a good idea to do both, at least until that miracle antiaging potion finally does come along. No matter how crazy we may feel when we take our “meds” and rub ourselves down with serums and creams each evening, it’s better than bathing in blood … and probably more effective too.