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Fortifying the Barrier: How Konjac Extract Promotes Healthy Skin Function

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Through time, definitions and perceptions of ideals tend to change. Take beauty, for example. The goal is to feel good by looking good. Up until recently, this was accomplished solely through using topical products.

This has been changing rapidly. According to Euromonitor International “Consumers who previously relied on traditional beauty products to maintain their appearance are now looking at vitamins and supplements to enhance their appearance as part of their overall well-being.” (1)

Further, they point out, 47 percent of global consumers still believe that being healthy means having a healthy appearance and 54 percent feel that beauty means looking healthy.”

Euromonitor’s Global Beauty Survey 2019 revealed that more than 50 percent of Millennials believe that looking healthy is beautiful.

Beauty-from-within supplements are not new: vitamin supplements for hair, nails and skin have been available for decades. But the category has bloomed exponentially since then. The newest ingredient, Skin-Cera®​ ceramides from Japanese konjac root, is scientifically demonstrated to epitomize the health-is-beauty ideal via supporting skin health.

“Vidya Herbs is excited to step into the skin care market by providing an ingredient that can be seamlessly integrated into a consumer’s personal care routine” notes Steve Geiger, VP/GM of Sales and Operations for Vidya Herbs USA.

The Ceramide Solution

Skin deep is indeed deep. It’s not only the visible surface but how skin functions to preserve hydration and weather environmental stressors. It is multi-functioning and when functioning well, a key result is heightened skin beauty.

Ceramides in the stratum corneum layer have a major role in barrier functions such as moisture retention, maintenance of skin architecture and protection. This is demonstrated by the phenomenon where enzymatic processes that control ceramide synthesis are upregulated when the barrier is damaged. Loss of ceramides contributes to skin dryness and may play a role in the appearance of wrinkles.

Dietary ceramides are believed to improve barrier functions and skin characteristics by stimulating synthesis of new ceramides within the skin, instead of ingested ceramides being directly utilized by the skin.  In some skin research models, dietary intake of sphingolipids (a class of fatty acids that include ceramides) was associated with the activation of ceramide synthesis in the skin.

Ceramides are available for use in dietary supplements as well as topical formulations. But some ceramides pose challenges, such as those derived from wheat that can aggravate gluten sensitivities. Konjac root is a ceramide source that is abundant, sustainable and free from the major 8 food allergens as defined by the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA). Also referred to by its botanical name, Amorphophallus konjac​ is widely used for various applications in China, Japan and Southeast Asia.

Introducing Skin-Cera®

The starting material for Skin-Cera®​– Amorphophallus konjac​ – is sourced directly from the Gunma prefecture in Japan, where the vegetable’s cultivation and production are a major portion of its economy. Therefore, sustainability and traceability are assured. Gunma is also the largest producer of konjac in Japan.  Skin-Cera®A. konjac​ extract is standardized to 5% glycosylceramides by LCMS/MS analysis.

”We decided to source konjac from the Gunma prefecture because of the region’s rich history of cultivation of this material.  We are confident this is a source we -- and the consumers that enjoy the benefits of our product -- can rely on for years to come,” comments K Shyam Prasad, Vidya Herbs’ Founder and Managing Director.

Researchers evaluated the effects of Skin-Cera®​ supplementation (100 mg, containing 5 mg glycosylceramides) on skin care properties in a placebo-controlled, randomized, single-blind clinical trial with 40 healthy human volunteers. A total of eight skin parameters were evaluated at baseline, week 3 and conclusion (week 6) of the study. The parameters were: dryness, whiteheads/blackheads, hyperpigmentation, redness, lesions, itching, oiliness, roughness and overall.

Midway through the study, there were already significant and noticeable improvements in dryness, oiliness and hyperpigmentation compared to placebo; these effects are likely caused by the ingested sphingolipids (i.e., glycosylceramides) converting to sphingolipid metabolites, which are absorbed through the intestinal epithelium and carried through the bloodstream, after which they reach the skin and restore hydration.

Additionally, 80 percent of the Skin-Cera®​ group said that their skin was smoother and softer at the end of the study, compared to only 20 percent in placebo. And 70 percent of the supplement group noted that the improvement in skin dryness was “fairly good” and “excellent”, compared to 5 percent in the placebo group.

The authors concluded that, “The overall efficacy of A. konjac​ extract was found to be increasing significantly with time compared to the baseline. Our results agreed with the subject perception of the product efficacy as determined through the self-assessment questionnaire.”

This study was published earlier this year.  “Vidya Herbs is committed to continuous research on various botanical materials and regularly contributes new data to the public domain through the publication of clinical trials.  We are excited about what the remainder of 2020 and 2021 will bring as our R&D pipeline continues to grow,” summarizes Christopher Bailey, Director of Scientific Affairs for Vidya Herbs USA.

Skin-Cera®​ has a use patent for skin care (U.S. Patent #10,004,679) and can be formulated in a wide variety of consumer products including supplements, functional foods, beverages and topical cosmetics.

“Due to current events necessitating increased handwashing and sanitization, dry skin may be of particular concern.  Skin-Cera®​ is an excellent choice to help maintain skin moisture.” added Shyam. 

 

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 References:

(1)  Shridhar A, Holmes L. “Consumer Trends in Health and Nutrition: Vitamins and Supplements Driving Beauty Innovation” 9-2-2019 Euromonitor International

(2)   Venkataramana, S.H. et al​.  Potential Benefits of Oral Administration of AMORPHOPHALLUS KONJAC Glycosylceramides on Skin Health - A Randomized Clinical Study.  BMC Complement Med Ther​.  20(1):26 (2020). 

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