Calcium is a regulator of every organ in the body and the skin is no exception. The skin guards its calcium level very carefully and the calcium integrity of the upper epidermis regulates at least four major skin functions and possibly others that have yet to be determined.
Even though we are constantly shedding skin cells, the skin maintains a constant thickness of living layers. It therefore must have a means of determining its present thickness and a means of stimulating cellular division to replace these cells. At times cellular loss can be fast and at other times it may be slow. The skin must respond correctly. The calcium content of the upper epidermis is the measuring tool and the regulator of cell “differentiation.” Differentiation is the point at which an immature cell in the basal epidermis becomes an “end” cell, or a “terminal” cell and begins moving upward through the epidermis, toward eventual death and exfoliation. Until a basal cell differentiates, it is in a state of suspended animation
In the upper epidermis, when cells die and pass through the stratum granular layer they are stripped of their calcium content. If the skin experiences injury or excessive exfoliation, volumes of cells die and pass into the stratum corneum. They are stripped of their calcium and the calcium content of the upper epidermis becomes very high. Keratinocytes (skin cells) then absorb more calcium, which triggers the production of an enzyme named “protein kinase C” (PKC).
PKC travels out of the keratinocyte cells and goes from the upper epidermis down into the basal epidermis. It passes into immature (undifferentiated) keratinocyte cells and stimulates chromosomes 1 and 10 (chromosomes that regulate keratin production). The cells then “differentiate” (begin producing keratin) and move upward to replace the lost cells and eventual exfoliation. These newly differentiated cells are replaced by new basal cell division.
In this manner, the skin’s calcium content regulates cell differentiation (and cell division) and controls the thickness of the epidermis. High concentrations of upper epidermal calcium thereby cause rapid cell turnover and low concentrations of upper epidermal calcium cause slow cell turnover. Cell turnover can be up-regulated by increasing upper epidermal calcium and BiON’s Bio-Essence Nighttime Calcium Complex produces this result. When calcium application is used in conjunction with peeling or microdermabrasion, resurfacing of the skin is faster and more profound. Conversely, resurfacing procedures on patients with low skin calcium content is slow and ineffectual.
As a second skin function, calcium regulates normal skin color by stimulating melanocytes (pigment producing cells) at the same time it causes differentiation of immature cells. Thirdly, calcium regulates lipid barrier processes. Peeling, microdermabrasion and cold winter weather strip the skin’s moisture barrier. High calcium content in the upper epidermis helps maintain continual and efficient barrier functions. Patients with dry skin, or dry skin due to weather, respond well to topical calcium treatment. In the case of microdermabrasion, Bio-Essence Nighttime Calcium Complex can significantly reduce the dryness that is typical with this procedure and increase cell turnover simultaneously.
The National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) has done exhaustive study of the functions of calcium within the skin. They observed that people with low skin calcium content experience greater premature aging of the skin and greater incidence of skin cancer. People with high skin calcium content experience less premature skin aging and less incidence of skin cancer. These observations were the reasons for their interest in calcium and their research produced much of the above information.
The fourth function of calcium within the skin is to stimulate the production of the skin’s own age-protective and cancer-protective antioxidants. This proved to be the relationship between calcium and cancer that the NCRI was seeking. While science does not know the precise mechanism or process, calcium content has been directly linked with the production of catalase and indirectly linked to superoxide dismutase (two of the skin’s most powerful antioxidants). Antioxidants prevent damage to the skin’s components such as collagen. Antioxidants prevent DNA damage that lead to premature aging of the skin and skin cancer. Topical calcium products therefore provide anti-aging benefits and enhance skin cancer protection.
Calcium is an extremely powerful tool for skin rejuvenation and, in the not too distant future, it will receive media attention and marketing focus. Like zinc, BiON is one of a very small number of skin care manufacturers that understands calcium and formulates products to include it. The formulating process is complex since calcium must be combined in exact ratios with other biochemicals for cellular absorption to occur. Calcium is contained in Bio-Essence Nighttime Calcium Complex, Vitamin C + Calcium Complex and Line Reducing Complex.