Ask The Doctor: Age Spots

Question: What causes age spots, should I be concerned about them, and is there any way to get rid of them?

Answer: Age spots or liver spots refer to those brown areas on our skin, especially on the back of the hands, that seem to occur as we age. While I don’t know of any clear research on these spots it seems to me that these spots represent a phenomenon that is actually common in nature. We all have had the experience of cutting an apple and leaving it on the counter. In a short period of time the pulp of the apple begins to brown. The rate at which the apple browns is related to the way the apple has been grown–organic apples brown less quickly than conventionally grown apples and more quickly than many biodynamically grown apples. Browning of biological tissue is due to oxidation, and this relates to the level of anti-oxidants in those tissues. The same apparently happens in our own tissues. When we are low in anti-oxidants, including vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium and many others, the tissues begin to suffer from oxidative damage. Since brown spots on the skin indicate possible oxidative damage occurring in the internal organs, they are a cause for concern. This is where the liver connection probably comes in, as the liver has always been thought in folk-medicine to relate to our overall nutritional status, or in scientific terms our nutrient/anti-oxidative levels. So, if you are suffering from excessive or early onset of many “liver” spots, you may want to increase your consumption of good fats, colored vegetables and other foods with high anti-oxidant levels. This may not get rid of them, but it will help prevent new ones.