The Best Foods and Nutrients for a Bronze Tan and Youthful Skin
Are you wanting to prolong that tan you got from the beach? Well there are nutrients that can help!
Some foods can actually give your skin more of a glow providing you with a sunless tan without damaging your skin.
Raw carrots are probably the most popular and well-known foods that can support melanin production, a pigment responsible for the darkening of the skin. They are also high in beta carotene, a plant pigment that converts into vitamin A. High doses of beta-carotene can actually change the color of the skin to a more yellow-orange hue, also known as carotenemia. But this requires a significantly high consumption in order to reach this level of skin discolouration. Beta carotene gives fruits and vegetables their rich yellow and orange colors and may be found in sweet potato, papaya, yams, pumpkin, and orange fruit such as mango, apricot, and peaches.
Always remember to practice safe sun exposure and not overdo it as this can damage the skin and also promote accelerated aging. It's important to choose foods rich in antioxidants as they help to protect against oxidative damage by combatting free radicals which are associated with accelerated aging and cellular damage but also chronic disease. Oxidative damage can lead to visible signs of aging of the skin such as wrinkles and fine lines.
Antioxidants are found in fruits and vegetables that are richly coloured such as berries, beans, apples, pecans, dark leafy greens, red grapes, and beetroot.
Eggs are also great for healthy and glowing skin as they are an animal source of vitamin A (retinol), a nutrient that can stimulate the production of new skin cells and collagen, reducing wrinkles and signs of aging (1).
Your skin also needs other nutrients in order to maintain elasticity, hydration, and smoothness such as selenium, vitamin B5, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K2.
Dietary intake of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can support your skin's aging process and even slow down and reduce the formation of wrinkles.
Which nutrients promote skin protection from UV rays?
Due to its antioxidant effects, vitamin C has been shown to protect against UV-induced photo-damage (3).
Vitamin E is a potent anti-inflammatory vitamin that is secreted on the surface of the skin in order to protect the skin from oxidative damage. It is essential for the maintenance of healthy skin acting as an anti-inflammatory in the skin. Vitamin E can absorb the energy from ultraviolet (UV) light, preventing free radical damage from the sun's UV rays onto the skin. Research suggests that the combination of vitamin E and vitamin C may be more effective in protecting skin from UV damage and sunburns than either of these vitamins alone (4)(5).
Beta carotene exerts strong antioxidant properties, shown to protect the skin from potentially harmful effects of UV sunlight.
Intake is often recommended before sun exposure due to its protective effects against photooxidative stress and prevention of skin damage (6). A study observing the supplementation of beta carotene showed that it can prevent and repair photoaging of the skin (7).
Well known for its beneficial effects on bone health, vitamin K2 can also positively impact skin health and may even slow the effects of skin aging.
Nine ingredients to promote a healthy skin appearance and tan
1. Beta-carotene will help protect the skin and its appearance
Beta carotene can prevent skin damage by protecting against the harmful effects of the sun's rays particularly due to its antioxidant properties (9). Though more research is needed, studies suggest that the consumption of beta carotene may reduce the signs of skin aging (10). Beta carotene is often included in topical creams to increase regeneration of skin cells in order to restore tone and hydration resulting in skin that looks more glowing and supple.
Higher doses of beta-carotene supplementation have been associated with adverse effects and possibly even increase the risk of certain cancers (11). This is why it is most often recommended to consume antioxidants such as carotene from food over antioxidant supplements.
Consult with your health care provider before supplementing.
2. Lycopene protects the skin and works against redness
A dietary antioxidant, lycopene can be found in food sources such as tomatoes, watermelon, and grapefruit.
This nutrient is responsible for giving foods their characteristic red and pink pigment and known to prevent skin photo-damage and even reduce ultraviolet-induced redness (12). Lycopene can provide protective effects from UV damage though its benefits seem to increase when combined with other carotenoids and plant constituents such as flavonoids (13)(14).
3. Astaxanthin protects DNA and keeps skin glowing
Reactive oxygen species play a significant role in DNA damage mediated by oxidative stress. Astaxanthin is a carotenoid that gives certain foods its red color such as wild salmon, krill, trout, lobster, crab, and shrimp.
One of the most powerful antioxidants, it has been shown to benefit the skin by protecting against DNA damage from its photo-protective, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory effects (15). Not only can it help to improve skin aging but astaxanthin may also act protectively against UV-induced skin deterioration (16).
4. Lutein promotes a youthful skin appearance
Lutein is a carotenoid found to improve skin conditions and protect the skin from environmental factors (18).
Oxidative stress is well known to accelerate signs of aging in the skin such as wrinkles. Lutein acts as an antioxidant and can prevent or reduce the rate of oxidative damage, supporting the maintenance of healthy and youthful skin (19). Research shows that lutein has the ability to filter high-energy wavelengths of light and potentially protect against light induced skin damage (20).
5. Tyrosine promotes natural skin colouring
Tyrosine is an amino acid required to produce melanin, the natural pigment in skin (21). Melanin doesn't only provide pigmentation, it also protects the outer layer of the skin against harmful effects of ultraviolet (UV) rays. Melanin provides antioxidant effects and acts as a scavenger of free radicals that are produced by damaged caused by ultraviolet light.
The enzyme tyrosinase is the key enzyme involved in the production and regulation of melanin in order to prevent UV-induced damage. This means that we do need the amino acid tyrosine in order to create melanin and too little can result in hypopigmentation, or loss of skin color.
6. Zinc protects against UV rays and promotes collagen and keratin production
Zinc oxide is a common ingredient used in sunscreens to protect against UV damage, and often considered the safest option that offers broad-spectrum protection against both UVA and UVB rays (22).
Zinc oxide is considered a safe and effective sunscreen that provides photo-protective properties and as a result may help to slow the effects of aging (23).
Zinc is an important mineral to maintain strong and healthy hair. The body requires sufficient zinc in order to produce keratin, the hair forming protein which makes up the structure of the hair follicle.
Low zinc can result in brittle, thinning, and weakened hair as well as increased hair loss (27).
7. Selenium helps activate natural skin protection
Selenium is a mineral that is also a cofactor to the master antioxidant glutathione. Selenium is thought to act protectively against UV rays by activating the enzyme glutathione peroxidase which is necessary for the function of glutathione.
8. Copper promotes skin pigmentation and also its elasticity
Copper is another nutrient involved in melanin production, the compound that is responsible for the color of your hair, skin, and eyes.
Because both copper deficiency and copper excess can be harmful, it's important to monitor your levels with your doctor especially if supplementing.
9. Para-aminobenzoic acid is linked to skin discoloration and also protects it
The biochemical Para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) was a key active ingredient in most sunscreens due to its ability to absorb ultraviolet rays associated with skin damage. However since 2019 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) no longer recognizes PABA as generally recognized as safe and effective as it has been reported as a common allergen (33).
PABA may help skin related issues associated with discoloration and depigmentation.
PABA is often referred to as a treatment for the condition, vitiligo, which causes discolouration of the skin though more research is needed to confirm its efficacy (34).
In conclusion, though there are many nutrients from dietary supplements that can promote a healthy glow from the inside out and even protect your skin from harmful UV rays, your focus should always be a nutrient-dense diet first and foremost in order to receive as many nutrients as you can from whole foods however these should not replace safe sun exposure practices.
About the Author