Dietary Protection Against Sun Exposure

Excessive sun exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) has detrimental effects on the immune system causing inflammation; therefore over exposure resulting from sunburn can cause major causes of skin cancer such as basal carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and malignant carcinoma.

Americans get less than 25% of their lifetime of UV dose by the age of 18 (1). And three forths of lifetime exposure is delivered during adulthood and older age (1). If you want to decrease your chances of over exposure to the sun, a lifelong photoprotection (protection of self from sun exposure & UVR exposure) are extremely important with the use of barriers such as hats, clothes, and sunscreen. One new emerging science is endogenous skin protection, through dietary supply, which can significantly contribute to skin health. It may be low or even marginal in terms of sun protection, but the cumulative effect it is receiving through research is getting increasing attention (1).

The skins health protection can be provided with some very important key micronutrients that will be contributing to a lifelong of protection. Important antioxidants to consider are:

Carotenoids: protects against excess light on the skin. In a study, 40 g/day of tomato sauce over a period of 10 weeks led to elevated serum levels of lycopene, which increased carotenoids in skin and decrease redness of the skin when exposed to the sun (1). 80% of lycopene consumed in the USA is derived from tomato sauce (2). Cooking and food processing enhance the bioavailability of carotenoids (uptake is higher after ingestion of processed tomatoes like tomato paste as cpmared to fresh tomaotes) (2).

Flavonoids: are polyphenols and have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties. Flavanol, found in cocoa (dark chocolate, rich in flavanol) has beneficial properties that can also protect your skin. In another study conducted, with two groups of volunteers, one group consumed a high flavanol cocoa powder dissolved in water, and another a low flavanol cocoa powder dissolved in water too. Over a 12 week span, the high flavanol group had a significant reduction in superficial reddening of the skin versus the low flavanol group. The reduction was significant, by 50-70% after 6 and 12 week treatment. No change was found in the low flavanol group.(2)

1. Sies, H., & Stahl, W. (2004). Nutritional Protection Against Skin Damage From Sunlight. Annu. Rev. Nutr., 24:173-200

2.Stahl, W., & Sies, H. (2007). Carotenoids and Flavanoids Contribute to Nutritional Protection against Skin Damage from Sunlight. Mol Biotechnol,  37:26-30





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About Norma Korpics RD, NCSF CPT, Cosmetologist

Norma Korpics is a wife and mother of twin girls, Registered Dietitian and Certified Personal Trainer based in sunny south Florida.  She works with women in her community on their diet and nutrition to help them live a healthier, leaner lifestyle. In her 40s, Norma defies age by following a clean diet and consistent weight training plan that she also teaches her clients.  Past job experiences included counseling in Diabetes, childhood obesity, and heart disease. You can find Norma online at the addresses below.
"Feeling healthy and feeling good about yourself is not a luxury - it's an absolute necessity."  Unknown