Can Retinyl Palmitate Help You Fight Aging? Here Are the Facts.

Beautiful middle aged woman with clean wrinkled skin

The quest for eternal youth is the order of the day and people are constantly searching for a quick and effective fix to stop the process of aging. There are many products currently out there, all promising miraculous results. However, only an active lifestyle that includes a wholesome well-balanced diet can keep you in top shape.

While there's nothing to reverse the process of aging in humans yet, you can definitely shoot for quality of life and dignified aging; many of the aforementioned products definitely have certain properties that can benefit you as long as you know what to look for and use them according to the instructions. Stick around, today's article will discuss retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A that's easily absorbed into the body and can support eye health, skin health, immune system function, and reproductive health. But, can it help you reverse aging? Let's find out. 

Multivitamin pills in the white plastic cap isolated on white

Can Retinyl Palmitate Help You Fight Aging? Here Are the Facts,

Vitamin A palmitate, also known as preformed vitamin A and retinyl palmitate, is present in some animal foods such as liver, eggs, and cheese. Manufactured by combining palmitic acid with retinol, it's also commercially available as a retinoid supplement. Retinoids are bioavailable substances and, thus, easily absorbed into the body and processed quite efficiently by it.

Anti-Aging Properties

The basis of the anti-aging properties of retinyl palmitate is its support for the production of collagen. It also helps prevent the breakdown of this protein, which is great because it's the one responsible for the structure, firmness, and flexibility of your skin.

Did you know that the collagen production of your body slows down as you age? It's a natural part of the process that leads to thinner and stiffer skin and the appearance of wrinkles. Retinyl palmitate can counteract some of these effects and soften them by thickening the skin after continued use. Not only that, but this substance can also increase cell turnover and thus, improve the appearance of age spots and even skin tone.   

Sunscreen manufacturers sometimes add retinyl palmitate to their products. It mainly boosts the aesthetic qualities of sunscreen through its antioxidant quality for the purpose to improve the product performance against the aging effects of ultraviolet exposure.

What's the Difference Between Vitamin A Palmitate and Actual Vitamin A?

The name vitamin A is used to refer to nutrients humans have categorized into retinoids and carotenoids. The latter is responsible for the bright colors of vegetables and fruits. However, carotenoids aren't bioavailable and so your body must first convert them into retinoids before it can nutritionally benefit from them. 

This process is normal but can be challenging for premature infants or those with allergies as well as those who are malnourished. The same goes for pregnant or breastfeeding women and people with cystic fibrosis; genetics may also be a factor.

What Are the Common Uses of Vitamin A Palmitate?

This kind of retinoid is commercially available in supplement form and you can use it to support your eye and skin health as well as your immune system and reproductive health. It's available as an oral pill and as an injection.

Vitamin A palmitate is often an ingredient in multivitamins but you can find it by itself in supplement form. Look for it as either preformed vitamin A or retinyl palmitate. 

As we mentioned above, Vitamin A palmitate is usually present in some parts of the animals we eat such as their liver, egg yolks, fish, and dairy products. These are the best sources so include them in your daily diet.

eggs and dairy

The Potential Health Benefits of Retinyl Palmitate

Other retinoids in this family, such as tretinoin, retinol, adapalene, and retinaldehyde produce similar results, but retinyl palmitate is a lot more gentle when it comes to counteracting some of the signs of aging. Researchers continue to study the properties of vitamin A palmitate and found that it can help with many other conditions such as:


The topical use of prescribed strength retinoids is effective in the treatment of acne. Retinol, an over-the-counter, milder version of it is less irritating than other acne treatments that contain tretinoin. The scientific community is definitely interested in the ability of vitamin A palmitate to heal wounds and strengthen the immune defense when applied topically and is conducting further studies.

Topical retinyl palmitate can effectively reduce the severity and number of acne lesions, thus improving the overall appearance of your skin. You can find it in oral form for this purpose but need large doses to obtain good results.

The mechanism of action of this retinoid is to increase cell turnover and accelerate the purging rate of dead skin cells and regenerate them. It results in clear pores and so it takes care of any buildup of dead skin, oils, dirt, and other debris. Retinyl palmitate also decreases skin inflammation so it reduces the likelihood of breakouts.

Thus substance is best for mild cases of acne due to its relatively low potency as a retinoid. So, prescription-strength tretinoin, another retinoid, is a better treatment for more severe cases like cysts and nodules.

Retinitis Pigmentosa

A study suggests that vitamin A palmitate supplementation can slow down vision decline in children with retinitis pigmentosa. There's much research to be done on the subject as the number of patients in this study was small and the analysis retrospective. Also, the determination of who received vitamin A and who didn't was planned in advance.

Other studies found that vitamin A palmitate can slow down vision loss in adults with this condition. The researchers enhanced the effect by combining it with oily fish like tuna and salmon and lutein, an antioxidant. Other laboratory studies revealed that vitamin A supplementation can further damage people with macular conditions like Stargardt disease and cone-rod dystrophies, though.

Researchers are aware that vitamin A is a must for the biochemical process in the retina that makes vision possible, but they don't entirely understand its specific role in maintaining it.

Sun-Damaged Skin

According to a study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, participants with photoaged skin who took vitamin A palmitate and an oil-based moisturizer with antioxidants showed overall improvement in skin quality after two weeks of treatment. They mainly evaluated its effect on the neck, chest, and limbs.

As you can see, retinyl palmitate as part of your beauty routine can counteract the appearance of dry, flaky skin, while its antioxidant properties help protect it by neutralizing the free radicals present in the environment. Thus, this substance helps maintain the overall quality and appearance of your skin.

Young woman examing facial acne in mirror

Contraindication and Side Effects

The Environmental Working Group, a non-profit, non-governmental organization, argues that retinyl palmitate could result in skin tumors and lesions in those who spend time in the sun. However, the American Academy of Dermatology Association differs and cites the studies that concluded retinoids help reduce the risk of skin cancer. 

Retinyl palmitate seems to be safe in combination with other needed antioxidants based on its FDA approval as a food additive, and common use in prescription and over-the-counter drugs. You should definitely use sunscreen and minimize your exposure to ultraviolet rays when using it.

Another thing to consider is that vitamin A palmitate is fat-soluble and lingers in your fatty tissues. It can cause liver damage if the build-up is high and it's mainly due to the use of supplements. So, those with liver disease should skip them.

In addition, high amounts of this substance might result in malformations of the eyes, lungs, skull, and heart in fetuses so it isn't suitable for pregnant women. Not only that, but high doses can also lead to depression, painful muscles and joints, and dry skin. 

Vitamin A palmitate supplements also interfere with the effects of certain medications, be it prescription or over the counter. So, inform your doctor of any drugs you might be taking; they can help you evaluate the risks. As you can see, this kind of supplement isn't good for everyone. However, eating foods that contain vitamin A palmitate isn't only safe but healthy. 

Forms of Retinyl Palmitate

This substance is available in various presentations. Topical lotions contain hydrating ingredients and can improve the appearance of dry skin. Gels are better for people with acne as they're easier to absorb into the skin. Furthermore, serums are water-based and light and, thus, great for oily skin.

You can also find retinyl palmitate as an oral pill, and dermatologists usually prescribe it for the treatment of acne; although, physicians also prescribe it to treat vitamin A deficiency. Most vitamin A supplements contain retinyl palmitate in their formulation but don't have a direct effect on your skin as when you apply it topically. However, increasing your overall levels of vitamin A will definitely promote healthy skin. As we mentioned above, high amounts of this vitamin are toxic and could lead to severe liver damage.

closeup of woman applying lotion to shoulder

The Process of Aging

Do you ever wonder what exactly goes on in your body throughout your life? How exactly do you age? Well, let's begin by saying that aging affects every layer of tissue on your body, even though it's more evident in the epidermis.

Slower cell turnover, loss of hyaluronic acid content, and a reduction in sebum production on the surface of the skin lead to dryness and make the skin more sensitive to ultraviolet rays. Because the skin is less efficient at healing itself due to the reduced immune function, it's more prone to infections and takes longer to heal.

Beginning at the age of 25, collagen, one of the most important building blocks of your skin, decreases approximately one percent per year. There's also a decline in elastin, so both deficiencies compromise tissue structure and lead to fine lines and wrinkles. The loss of elasticity continues as you continue to age and the fine lines become wrinkles. 

Furthermore, the production of hyaluronic acid that used to be so efficient when you were younger slows down and so your cells can no longer bind to water like they used to, so your skin is more prone to dryness. Not only that, but it's also weaker and more likely to become damaged. There's less efficient delivery of nutrition and oxygen to the surface as well so it's no longer as radiant as when you were younger.

The most notable changes in the deeper layers are basically a reduction in the size and number of the lipid-storing cells present in the adipose layer. It leads to sagging and loss of volume and, thus, to the deeper wrinkles and hollow temples and cheeks typical of older folks. 

As you can see, the skin aging process affects every layer of skin. There's only so much you can do to prevent it, as your actual age determines the structural changes of your tissues and the efficiency of their cellular functions. Your body processes slow down as time goes by and there's nothing you can do to reverse it. Let's see what happens inside your body as you age.

closeup of a older woman's face showing a few wrinkles

Internal Factors that Lead to Aging

Young bodies have strong connections between the layers of tissue. These allow the delivery of moisture and nutrients to the visible layers but it all slows down with the passage of time. The levels of estrogen and the instruction giving hormones, decrease and the cells have a hard time communicating. It limits the delivery of nutrients and oxygen and results in poorer blood supply. The radiance fades and shows on your skin, which becomes as dull as the last person you broke up with.

Genetics play a huge role in how you age so your phototype and skin type determine how quickly you get wrinkly. People with lighter skin are in the phototype I and II categories. Their skin is more sensitive to the sun and thus, more prone to wrinkles at an earlier age. Similarly, the darker skin in prototypes VI and V is more resistant to sun exposure and the signs of aging take longer to show. Phototype III may result in uneven skin tone, but people in this category wrinkle at a later age than the other phototypes. Let's now look at the internal causes of aging.

External Factors that Lead to Aging

The external factors that affect the speed at which your skin ages are basically due to oxidative stress. This is because it releases free radicals — molecules with a single electron in an outer shell that cause premature aging. They do so by causing damage to the hyaluronic acid, collagen, and functional elastin contained in your skin cell structures.

Antioxidants can neutralize, absorb and stop the damage caused by free radicals under normal circumstances, but the ability of your skin to do so decreases as you age. 

Moreover, several factors trigger and accelerate oxidative stress. For example, pollution accelerates free radical damage, especially if you spend a lot of time under the sun. Indeed, ultraviolet rays are the main external cause of skin aging via oxidative stress. This kind of damage is known as photoaging and one of the first signs of damage is hyperpigmentation. This doesn't happen in a day of lying in the sun though; it adds up as the days go by.

Another factor that worsens the effects of sun exposure and accelerates oxidative stress is pollution and it does so by triggering the release of free radicals. It mainly affects those who live in the big cities. Smoking is another factor as the chemicals and nicotine in cigarettes greatly increase the free radicals in your skin. They intensify the effects of sun exposure and lead to oxidative stress, just like pollution.

The Right Diet Can Do Wonders for an Aging Body

A well-balanced wholesome diet is the best way to counteract some of this damage. It must contain lots of antioxidants, the molecules that can neutralize free radicals. Fruits and vegetables are the best sources, and you can eat as much as you like as long as you keep them varied. A nutritious plate is a rainbow of natural colors. No, we don't mean fruit loops or any other overly processed junk food. Spices, herbs, and certain supplements contain the most antioxidants but berries, fruits, nuts, chocolate, and vegetables are also up there.

Your skin ages faster if you're mean to it and torture it with harsh chemicals. Be nicer by treating yourself to gentler products that are appropriate for your specific skin type and use effective sun protection.

Young woman cutting vegetables in bright kitchen

In Conclusion

The retinoid retinyl palmitate is great for the treatment of mild cases of acne and can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as it stimulates cell turnover and collagen production. You can find it in many forms like creams, gels, lotions, and oral supplements. The topical use of this kind of anti-aging product is safe for most skin types but could cause mild skin irritation- especially if yours is too dry or sensitive.

Love the skin you're in; you're old enough to know better, young enough not to care, and experienced enough to do it right!

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