• Internal Sun Screens

    Posted June 5, 2013: by Bill Sardi

    A man wrote me years ago that he took a trip to the Caribbean and laid out in the sun and never got sun burned.  He was taking an antioxidant formula for the eyes that provided 50,000 international units of beta carotene (~32 milligrams).

    While the topical sunscreen industry promotes their SPF-rated products, orally consumed pigments (carotenoids beta carotene, lutein, lycopene, astaxanthin) interally protect skin from sun damage and sun burn (erythema).  This is well documented in the medical literature but internal sun protection is not widely practiced.  It is easier to lather on sun screen lotion.

    Beta carotene is particularly interesting because it is available in large enough doses to achieve skin/sun protection and is economically priced.  Mega-dose beta carotene, that orange pigment we see in carrots, converts to vitamin A when consumed with a little bit of fat and excesses are stored in the skin.  A 15-30 mg dose (~25,000 to 50,000 IU) has been documented to be a safe and effective dose for sun protection.   A 30 mg/daily dose of beta carotene has also been reported to reduce facial wrinkles.  Beta carotene does not induce vitamin A liver toxicity as excesses are simply stored in the skin, but mega doses may cause what is known as a beta carotene tan.  The orange pigment bronzes the skin.  No, this does not mean you are jaundiced (have a liver problem).

    Astaxanthin, the pigment that gives salmon their pink color, is available as an oral supplement and has superior sun protection properties when taken orally as it is deposited horizontally in the skin, much like an opened umbrella.  Other carotenoid pigments like beta carotene, lutein, lycopene, rest vertically in the skin and do not provide as much coverage as astaxanthin.  Dosage for sun protection has not been studied.   –Copyright 2013 Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc.


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