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Protecting the skin with nutrition

Friday June 23, 2017
Protecting the skin with nutrition

Photo caption: Green, yellow, orange and red vegetables are high in carotenoids – essential in skin health.


Our skin may be the first line of defence but it is under constant attack from the moment we wake up.

Air pollution (traffic fumes, air conditioning/heating systems, city dirt) sun exposure, ultraviolet (UV) B rays and free radicals generated from toxins such as cigarette smoke all have an impact on our skin health. Even chemicals in cleaning agents and body care products are putting the skin - the human body’s largest organ - under threat.

Whilst you may have little control over the environmental factors, we can learn how nutrition can play a role in protecting the skin tissue from premature aging, infection, imbalance and chronic conditions.  

Here are some key nutrients which play an important role in skin health:

- Consider carotenoids – often found in bright red, yellow and orange fruit and vegetables. Carotenoids are a family of phytonutrients known to quell free radical attack, contribute to membrane stability and structure, offer protection from the effects of sun burn and disrupt in-body repercussions of UV-B sun exposure[1] [2].  Check the nutritional panel for; beta carotene, mixed carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin. 

- Look for Astaxanthin. Vegan Astaxanthinis sourced from microalgae and is an important member of the carotenoid family. This nutrient has produced phenomenal results for skin and DNA protection from the effects of UV rays[3].

- Grape seed extract is a major source of oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs); a compound that is reported to have a significantly greater anti-oxidant potential than vitamin C or vitamin E[4].  This protective effect has the potential to support the collagen matrix, protect against free radical damage and reduce inflammation and infection[5] [6].

- Superoxide dismutase (SOD) – the ‘enzyme of life’. Skin health is reliant on the potent anti-oxidant effects of Superoxide dismutase (SOD)[7], an enzyme produced by our bodies alongside free radicals. This is possibly a self-preservation action and consequently is known as the ‘enzyme of life’.  However, production of SOD reduces with age[8], making SOD supplementation an important element of protection.

Unfortunately there isn’t a nutrient that can protect from the pain, inflammation and redness of sunburn.  Therefore, an ethical, certified organic sun screen should always be used, especially during the period when the sun is directly overhead.  

Is there ever a time when the skin does not need protection?  Probably not, but it is worthwhile considering making small changes to your diet to support your skin health.

Author: Jenny Hall is a Nutritional Practitioner and Technical Advisor at Viridian Nutrition. She holds a BSc honours degree in Nutritional Science.


[1] R. Edge, D.J. McGarvey, T.G. Truscott, The carotenoids as anti-oxidants — a review, Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology, Volume 41, Issue 3, 1997, Pages 189-200.

[2] Köpcke W, Krutmann J. Protection from sunburn with beta-Carotene--a meta-analysis.Photochem Photobiol. 2008 Mar-Apr;84(2):284-8. Epub 2007 Dec 15.

[3] D.N. Tripathi, G.B. Jena, Astaxanthin intervention ameliorates cyclophosphamide-induced oxidative stress, DNA damage and early hepatocarcinogenesis in rat: Role of Nrf2, p53, p38 and phase-II enzymes, Mutation Research/Genetic Toxicology and Environmental Mutagenesis, Volume 696, Issue 1, 1 February 2010, Pages 69-80.

[4] Shi J, Yu J, Pohorly JE, Kakuda Y. Polyphenolics in grape seeds-biochemistry and functionality. J Med Food. 2003 Winter;6(4):291-9.

[5] Adriana Filip, Doina Daicoviciu, Simona Clichici, Pompei Bolfa, Cornel Catoi, Ioana Baldea, Laura Bolojan, Diana Olteanu, Adriana Muresan, I.D. Postescu, The effects of grape seeds polyphenols on SKH-1 mice skin irradiated with multiple doses of UV-B, Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology, Volume 105, Issue 2, 2011, Pages 133-142.

[6] Sudheer K. Mantena, Santosh K. Katiyar, Grape seed proanthocyanidins inhibit UV-radiation-induced oxidative stress and activation of MAPK and NF-?B signaling in human epidermal keratinocytes, Free Radical Biology and Medicine, Volume 40, Issue 9, 2006, Pages 1603-1614.

[7] Vouldoukis I, Conti M, Krauss P, Kamaté C, Blazquez S, Tefit M, Mazier D, Calenda A, Dugas B. Supplementation with gliadin-combined plant superoxide dismutase extract promotes antioxidant defences and protects against oxidative stress. Phytother Res. 2004 Dec;18(12):957-62.

[8] Khandaker Ashfaqul Muid, Hüseyin Çaglar Karakaya, Ahmet Koc, Absence of superoxide dismutase activity causes nuclear DNA fragmentation during the aging process, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Volume 444, Issue 2, 7 February 2014, Pages 260-263


TAGS: Nutrition News and Viewsskin health


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