Prolonged exposure to the sun has become synonymous with skin cancer. But we also need to remember that exposing our skin to the sun every day is essential in order for the body to produce vitamin D, which provides all round cell protection. It is therefore important to strike a balance between “over” and “under” exposure, ensuring constant protection for internal and external epithelial cells from short- and long-term UV damage.
In order to obtain a healthy colour while minimising the aesthetically-unwelcome effects of sun exposure - the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles or dry skin - it makes sense to supplement with the carotenoid group of antioxidants that includes beta-carotene
. These carotenoids are distributed in the body’s tissues where they boost skin pigmentation, significantly improve sun tolerance and protect the various tissues that are particularly in direct contact with light, especially those of the skin and eyes.
Along with these recognised skin protectors, there are other substances that protect against skin photoageing and dryness and improve sun tolerance:
- Research into the direct application of
on the skin has highlighted its ability to prevent wrinkles and other signs of ageing related to UV-induced photo-oxidative damage. This amino acid, derived from L-histidine, is concentrated in those organs exposed to significant oxidative stress: the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs as well as the skin. Taking ergothioneine at daily doses of 5mg throughout the summer can thus counteract the effects of key mediators of skin ageing, particularly photo-ageing.
- During the summer months, exposure to the sun leads to a reduction in the concentration of lipids in the skin’s protective layer (Stratum corneum
), not only making the skin dry but sometimes producing other signs of ageing, such as rough, red, scaly, tight, itchy or inflamed skin. To prevent UV-associated skin dryness, it is important to target the essential components of the skin’s hydrolipid barrier called ceramides which make up more than a third of intercellular ‘cement’. As has been amply demonstrated in three clinical studies, all of which reached the same conclusion, oral supplementation with wheat ceramides
helps to significantly improve the hydration, elasticity and health of skin dried by exposure to the sun.
- Those whose skin burns easily and who want to build up their sun tolerance should supplement not only with carotenoids (beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin…), but also with omega-3, particularly EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Studies have shown that taking omega-3 helps to both lower levels of prostaglandin E2 and thus reduce skin inflammation, and most significantly, to increase tolerance to UV rays 1 2
. It is therefore advisable, at lunch and dinnertime, to take capsules of Krill oil
obtained from the tiny shrimps that populate the cold waters of the Antarctic which are particularly rich in EPA and DHA, or to take supplements of EPA itself.
- And finally, to preserve skin tissue structure, many studies recommend an extract of a fern native to the tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, Polypodium leucotomos
, traditionally used in Honduras to relieve and protect the skin from the sun’s harmful effects.
1 Rhodes LE, Durham BH, Fraser WD, Friedmann PS. Dietary fish oil reduces basal and ultraviolet B-generated PGE2 levels in skin and increases the threshold to provocation of polymorphic light eruption. J Invest Dermatol. 1995 Oct;105(4):532-5
2 Rhodes LE, Shahbakhti H, Azurdia RM, Moison RM, Steenwinkel MJ, Homburg MI, Dean MP, McArdle F, Beijersbergen van Henegouwen GM, Epe B, Vink AA. Effect of eicosapentaenoic acid, an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, on UVR-related cancer risk in humans. An assessment of early genotoxic markers. Carcinogenesis. 2003 May;24(5):919-25