The summer sun is out in all its glory and we’re spending more of our time outdoors. A decent amount of sun exposure is a good natural vitamin D top-up and for most of us sun-loving souls, the natural sun-kisses bring about a serene sense of the holiday vibes. If you love your skin, take good care of it! This starts with sun protection.
Ultraviolet radiation (UV) has a shorter wavelength than light and is responsible for sunburn, skin and eye damage. These wave lengths are divided into UVB (which is responsible for sunburn) and UVA (responsible for long-term skin damage).The ozone in the earth’s atmosphere protects us from some of these damaging effects but not all. Sunscreens help filter out UV radiation by providing a barrier, reflecting and scattering UV. Topically, inorganic particles such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide are the active ingredients in this type of sun protection. The other method of protection is absorption of UV rays.
Ever wondered if nutrients obtained from food can protect your skin from the harmful effects of the sun and prevent aging? Enter carotenoids. These are amongst a group of compounds that give natural foods their spectacular array of colours. There are more than 700 naturally occurring carotenoids and most people have approximately 10 circulating through their system on any given day. That’s great news! High in antioxidants and vitamin A, carotenoids protect plants & organisms from the damaging effects of light and oxygen and are critical to the photosynthetic process. By consuming plants and organisms that contain these pigments, a similar protective effect can be acquired.
Astaxanthin is a carotenoid that is produced by a hardy and adaptive microalgae Haematococcus Pluvialis. Considered by some as a ‘supernutrient’, Astaxanthin is thought to be 65 times more powerful than vitamin C with 14 times more antioxidant potential than vitamin E according to Dr Mercola. There has been considerable interest in the field of research and a growing number of studies suggest that it can help protect the skin from the sun and thereby reduce the signs of aging. In a study published in the Journal of Dermatological Science (2002), it was found that astaxanthin is able to protect against alterations in human DNA induced by UVA light exposure. It was also found to be a potent UVB absorber. But its benefits are more than skin deep. Amongst its properties, astaxanthin has the ability to cross both the blood-brain barrier and the blood-retinal barrier, offering protection for brain, central nervous system and eyes.
A sunburn is essentially an inflammatory process and the anti-inflammatory quality of astaxanthin helps quell this by acting like an ‘internal’ sunscreen, exhibiting powerful free-radical scavenging activity and protecting cells from oxidative stress. Interestingly, this compound is the reason that salmon and flamingos are pink in colour. Dietary sources richest in astaxanthin include wild caught salmon, shellfish and krill.
Astaxanthin is available in supplement form and is generally well-tolerated. Contact your health practitioner before taking any supplements. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/05/25/sunscreen-and-wrinkle-prevention-in-a-pill.aspx http://www.fasebj.org/content/28/1_Supplement/645.2.short