Did you know certain foods and their chemical constituents can actually help protect our skin from UV light damage. This doesn’t mean we can throw out the sunscreens and spend all day in the sun but it does mean by choosing certain foods and supplements we can increase our skins resistance to burning and cellular damage. The sun has become much aligned especially in New Zealand where the burn time can be quite short. But we must remember getting some UV exposure during different times of the day is crucial for our health, circadian rhythm and vitamin D requirements. Ideally exposing our skin to the red light at dawn and dusk and some midday sun (but not long enough to burn) has been researched very recently to be crucial for good health and longevity. Alternatively spending long hours inside in front of screens (exposing us to non-natural blue light) is damaging to our skin, eyes and natural circadian rhythms.
So what can eat to protect our skin from light damage – the following animal and plant compounds have been researched for their skin protection actions
Colourless Carotenoids (phytoene and phytofluene) - tomato extracts
Beta-Carotene – carrots, kumara, spinach, squash/pumpkin and melon
Lycopene – tomatoes, red berries, guavas, watermelon, papaya, red grapefruit, red peppers and mango
Astaxanthin – salmon, red shellfish – crabs, prawns, crayfish, red snapper
Lutein – kale, green beans, spinach, broccoli, green peas, squash / pumpkin, carrots
Zeaxanthin – Kale, orange peppers, egg yolks, persimmons, sweetcorn, tangerines, green beans
Vitamin B3 – (nicotinamide) fish, chicken, mushrooms, avocadoes, green peas and peanuts
Vitamin D – fish, eggs, cod liver oil, mushrooms
Omega 3 – fresh salmon or tuna, kahawai, trevally
Green tea, dark chocolate or raw cacao or rosemary
Phytoene and phytofluene – colourless carotenoids from white tomato
Omega 3, astaxanthin, lutein/zeaxanthin, lycopene, forskolin, resveratrol, probiotics Lactobacillus sp johnsonii and rhamnosus
What to avoid before going into the sun – citrus fruits and alcohol as these can increase UV light skin damage.