Beauty is an abstract term, its definition has been widely discussed among philosophers ever since ancient times. It is not so much a quality of people or objects, but it is the judgment of our mind. Although there are some aspects in human beauty, which are generally accepted and considered beautiful by most people. They are the foundation of beauty beyond personal taste and the current rules of fashion. A part of these aspects is symmetry but most of all it is health. There is no doubt that the beauty of people comes from within.
Our health is influenced by countless factors, and many of those factors can hardly be controlled, as for example our genetic predisposition, or environmental influences, such as quality of air and purity of water. But a healthy and wellbalanced diet can be a major contribution to a guaranteed supply of all the substances necessary for our body‘s functions and for its protection from stress.
Every day we can take our pick from a wide variety of foods. Not all of them are beneficial to our health and with many of them we have to watch how often we eat them. Therefore it cannot be taken for granted that we actually employ the supply of foods to provide for the needs of our bodies. In their 12th Nutrition Report the German Nutrition Society (DGE) certifies that the supply of vitamins and minerals in general is good, but still there are people who feature an insufficient supply. Mainly the substances iodine, folic acid, and calcium, as well as iron in women are mentioned in this report.
Our diet is quite individual and thus our supply of nutrients is also rather specific. People with a low consumption of dairy products should achieve a sufficient intake of calcium, e.g. with nuts and seeds, just like the vegans do. Further they should also observe their supply of vitamin D, which is a prerequisite for the absorption of calcium.
Who does actually eat fish twice a week, and even if so who would pay attention that about 100 g of this fish is oceanic cold-water fish with a high fat content? There are not too many persons who follow this diet. For the majority of people a dietary supplement containing the essential omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, derived from fish, may be quite beneficial, e.g. the EPAX Marine Omega-3 products in highly concentrated form.
And most of us simply cannot follow the suggestion made by the DGE, to consume five servings of fresh fruit and vegetable per day in the hustle and bustle of our daily routines. Dietary supplements can at least provide the vitamins, minerals, and a concentrated form of the valuable secondary plant compounds, such as carotenoids, flavonoids, and oligomeric proanthocyanidins.
The skin is our biggest organ and our outer covering. Throughout history we decorated and painted our skin. Even the skin of the 5.250 years old ice mummy Ötzi had tattoos. In addition to its function of a representation and communication organ our skin also includes the receptors for heat, cold, pain, and touch. It is used to regulate our body temperature, it is our protection against UV rays, and it generates Vitamin D. Inner and outer layers of fat protect from mechanical pressure and form a barrier against germs and harmful substances. Our skin is composed of complex layers and renews itself continuously. Therefore it is very important that the skin always has the necessary supply of nutrients. The skin clearly shows the connection between health and beauty. Smooth skin without any redness or dry and rough areas is considered beautiful.
The health claim for biotin, iodine, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin A, and zinc is “contributes to the maintenance of normal skin”. Insufficient supply of these nutrients results in various skin problems. All these nutrients are essential for the health and function of our skin. People who want a well-cared for, healthy, and beautiful skin should guarantee their sufficient supply.
An important component of our skin is collagen. Collagen strengthens the skin structure and contributes to its firmness. The collagen in the skin is reduced with age, a process which then results in wrinkles. The generation of collagen requires vitamin C. The resulting health claim for this vitamin is “vitamin C contributes to a normal production of collagen for a normal function of the skin”.
Copper is part of the enzyme tyrosinase, which enables the production of melanin, the brown pigments in our skin. It is essential for the protection of our skin
against excessive exposure to UV radiation. The production of melanin does not always take place without complications. There are pigmentation abnormalities caused by a melanin production, which is either too low or too high and thus results in white or dark spots in the skin. The widely known age spots are also a pigmentation disorder. Therefore copper is an important component for a uniform skin tone. As a result the EFSA acknowledged the health claim „copper contributes to normal skin pigmentation“.
Another important protective function of the skin is provided by the antioxidants. They protect the cells from free radicals that are formed in the skin by exposure to UV light. Free radicals speed up the aging process, may damage cell organs, as well as our DNA. The body‘s own antioxidants include the vitamins C and E, carotenoids, as well as the coenzyme Q10. Many of these antioxidants cannot be produced in the human body and must be added with food. Some fruit concentrates are rich in antioxidants. Blueberries, for example, have a high antioxidant value, which is usually described in ORAC units. A carrot contains a very high concentration of carotenoids, which are embedded in the skin and there provide an antioxidative effect. However, too many carrots may result in yellowish discoloring of the skin. So for the protection of our skin, just as for our health in general, the best solution is a varied and well-balanced diet. Therefore dietary supplements can also be a well-balanced combination of many different plant extracts.
Our hair, just like our skin, is an attribute that is used to define beauty. We spend long hours and pay much attention to the care and styling of our hair. A hair consists of an outer layer, the cuticula, and an inner layer, the cortex, which makes up about three quarters of the complete hair. It is produced from a protein referred to as keratin. This protein is a structure of contorted spirals and is responsible for the hair’s stability. Bridges between the sulfur atoms of the amino acid cysteine provide reinforcement. Cysteine alone stands for about 10% of the keratin and can also be consumed in a pure and concentrated form by means of dietary supplements.
The hair as such grows from its root. As soon as it leaves the skin it has no more supply of nutrients and no more healing processes are possible. Therefore it is so important to ensure a healthy growth. The vitamin biotin, the trace element selenium, as well as the mineral zinc are essential substances for the growth of hair. For these nutrients the EFSA approved the health claim “contributes to the maintenance of normal hair” since shortage of these substances may result in damaged hair or hair loss.
Just as the skin tone the hair color is also a result of melanin. The production of melanin requires copper. Therefore the health claim “copper contributes to normal hair pigmentation” has been approved. Millet is credited with an especially beneficial combination of nutrients for the hair. In addition to vitamins and minerals it also contains silicic acid.
Since the hands are used for so many of our daily tasks, hands and nails are always in the focus of attention and they are one of the showpieces of our appearance. Well-kept hands are characterized by healthy skin and heathy, manicured nails. The nails are also an important part of our tactile perception. By their strength they allow to put pressure on the fingertips. In addition, the nail bed is equipped with quite a lot of nerve cells, thus a multitude of information can be obtained by touching with our nails. Nails are made of keratin, just like the hair. To ensure that we grow healthy nails they need a good supply of the required nutrient during the growing phase, once the nail leaves the root it can no longer regenerate. The minerals selenium and zinc are essential for the growth of healthy nails. For these substances the approved health claim is “contributes to maintain normal nails”. Regarding the plant side, bamboo is the trend right now, because bamboo has a high content of silicon dioxide, aka silica, which is well-known for its strengthening influence on nails.
The pivotal role of our body weight in the judgment of beauty is demonstrated by the media every day. Beyond that a slim body has become a symbol for power and performance in today’s society. If you are slim you are considered athletic, well-balanced, disciplined, and consistent. Being slim promises acceptance and success, both in the personal and professional environment, and is therefore beautiful and worth to strive for.
However, the body weight is also directly connected to our health. Being overweight or obese increases the risk for cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, osteoarthritis, mental problems, and cancer. The health problems caused by overweight are so dramatic that the World Health Organization WHO considers obesity an epidemic and launched national and international programs for weight reduction of the population. But in spite of these programs the trend could not be reversed so far. The newest figures of the Federal Statistical Office of Germany show that in the year 2013, 52% of the adult population of Germany were overweight. In the long run only a change in lifestyle can battle overweight, however, there are various plant extracts, which can help to burn fat faster. Green tea and extracts with pungent substances derived from chili, ginger, or pepper increase the thermogenesis, in other words the energy consumption for heat production in the body. Caffeine stimulates the circulation by increasing the heart rate and dilating the small outer blood vessels. Moreover caffeine also accelerates fat burning (lipolysis). It is also available from natural sources, for example from the seeds of the tropical climbing plant Guarana. A super fruit for weight loss is the root of the konjac plant. Its extract consists almost exclusively of glucomannan, a dietary fiber, which is able to hold water. If glucomannan is taken with two glasses of water, the indigestible fiber absorbs the water and results in a feeling of repletion. Here the EFSA approved the health claim “Glucomannan in the context of an energy restricted diet contributes to weight loss“.
For products dealing with beauty and aesthetics the packing is of special importance. It must be able to immediately transmit purpose and quality of the product and it must compliment the
product. It is worthwhile to compare the packages of high-quality beauty and cosmetic products. For products packed in folding boxes the desired effect may be achieved by using high-quality cardboard and selecting a special format. The print on these folding boxes offers a great variety of possibilities, for example a high-gloss UV coating, spot coating, blind and hot foil embossing, which in turn would work ideally in combination with matte finishes. Quite often dietary supplements are packed in pill bottles. Just as with cosmetics we suggest again precious glass bottles or jars, or even plastic bottles, which are also available in classy looks and feel, such as a “frosted look”, a china-like high-gloss finish, or a metallic appearance, whereby the latter is recommended especially for the lids. Both materials, plastic as well as glass, are offered in a wide range of colors.
The product as such may also be manufactured in unusual finishes. The shell of the capsules, for soft and hard capsules, may have a glossy pearl finish, which is again available in different colors. Tablets can be coated with a subtle mother- of-pearl-like sheen up to a metallic glimmer. Sachets containing powder for drinks or easy-swallow granules can be decorated with high-quality print and score by pleasant tastes. They complete the variety of pharmaceutical forms of the Beauty-from-Inside products.
Dr. Susanne Kühnl
is Manager of Projects and Development in the Goerlich Pharma GmbH. She is a graduate of the Technical University Munich in the field of food chemistry, and gained her doctoral at the University Innsbruck on the subject of anti-inflammatory and immunomodulation substances of natural origin.