As we look forward to warmer weather and enjoying more time outside, it is wise to first consider what that means for our health, especially our skin.
While sunlight, or more specifically its ultraviolet B rays, is important for boosting our skin cells’ ability to produce vitamin D, it is only needed in small doses. A fair-skinned person in shorts and a tank top, unprotected by sunscreen, soaking in the midday summer sun for just 10 minutes can produce more than needed.
If you are going to spend an extended amount of time under those powerful rays—no matter the time of year (UVA rays penetrate clouds and glass)—protect the largest organ of your body from cell death, premature aging, immune system suppression and DNA damage that can lead to cancer. Cover up with UV-blocking clothing, hats, sunglasses (UV rays damage your eyes too) and sunblock or sunscreen with broad spectrum protection (against both UVA and UVB rays) and an SPF of 30 or higher. Seek the shade when you can, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun is at its strongest.
In addition to these external measures, we can help our skin year round from the inside out to deal with UV damage and other skin health issues like dry skin, laxity, wrinkles, wound healing and aging by making sure we get the nutrients our skin cells need to function well and fight back.
Pycnogenol, in addition to many other health benefits, is a natural antioxidant that has been shown to inhibit damage caused by UV radiation.
Food Sources: The active ingredients of Pycnogenol can be found in peanut skins and grape seeds, but not many of us tend to eat those.
Retinoids refers to vitamin A (a.k.a. retinol) and the compounds that are derived from vitamin A such as retinoic acid. Skin is highly responsive to retinoids, but both UVA and UVB destroy Vitamin A.
Vitamin A is also critical for a healthy immune system because it maintains the integrity and function of skin and mucosal cells, our first line of defense. A lack of sufficient vitamin A has been linked to inflammation of the skin and, for some people, taking vitamin A supplements could reduce the inflammation that contributes to acne. Additionally Vitamin A is important for wound healing.
Food Sources: sweet potatoes, raw carrots, mangos, cantaloupe, spinach, broccoli, kale, milk, eggs, and cod liver oil.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral that has been shown to protect skin cells from UV radiation. Selenium deficiency can also impair the immune system.
Food Sources: Plant sources include brazil nuts, puffed wheat, whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, tuna, halibut, sardines, shrimp, beef and turkey.
Zinc is another essential trace mineral in the body. It is found mostly in the skeletal muscles and bones, but it is also stored in the skin. By stabilizing skin cell membranes, it protects against oxidative stress and toxins. A deficiency in zinc can also delay wound healing.
Zinc oxide is a common sunscreen ingredient because it absorbs and reflects both UVA and UVB radiation.
Food Sources: wheat germ, pumpkin and squash seeds, cashews, cacao, beans, oysters, beef, crab and lobster.
These are just a handful of the many essential nutrients our skin needs to function well and protect itself. The best approach to skin care, as in all areas of our health, is a proactive one, so be sure to take care — inside and out.
This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. Reliv products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
S. Iravani and B. Zolfaghari, PhD. Pharmaceutical and nutraceutical effects of Pinus pinaster bark extract. Res Pharm Sci. 2011 Jan-Jun; 6(1): 1–11. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3203267/
McKenzie RC. Selenium, ultraviolet radiation and the skin. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2000;25(8):631-636. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11167979
Mitchnick MA, Fairhurst D, Pinnell SR. Microfine zinc oxide (Z-cote) as a photostable UVA/UVB sunblock agent. J Am Acad Dermatol. 1999;40(1):85-90. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9922017