I’ve talked a lot in the past about the important role that sunshine—and the vitamin D it produces—plays in the grand scheme of health. But too much of anything can be bad. We’ll talk a little later about the proper amount of vitamin D and other healthy skin tips, but for now I want to focus on how you can protect your skin…from the inside out.
A Novel Way to Protect Your Skin
An internal sunscreen? That is what beta-carotene and vitamin E provide, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. In this trial of men and women with fair skin and a tendency to sunburn, a combination of 25 mg (40,000 IU) of beta-carotene with mixed carotenoids and 500 IU vitamin E taken for 12 weeks protected against sunburn.
This study provides proof that beta-carotene and vitamin E protect your skin from the inside out. These nutrients scavenge free radicals in the skin caused by UV exposure and quench their harmful effects in the skin. Animal studies suggest that these and other antioxidants also offer protection against skin cancer and premature aging of the skin. I recommend taking therapeutic doses of antioxidants throughout the year, particularly during the summer.
As I mentioned, some sun exposure—about 15 minutes a day—is beneficial and necessary for vitamin D production. However, if you’re going to be outside for longer periods, wear protective clothing and use a sunscreen that blocks UVA and UVB rays as well. (More on this below.)
Other Tips for Healthy Skin
These additional tips will help protect your skin year-round.
- Use a full-spectrum sunscreen. UV radiation accelerates skin aging and raises the risk of skin cancer, so make sunscreen application part of your daily routine (and be sure to reapply if you’re in the sun for prolonged periods). Use a minimum of SPF 15, and be sure it’s a full-spectrum sunscreen that addresses both UVB and UVA radiation. Read labels carefully. A lot of sunscreens, even those with a high SPF, ignore the more damaging UVA rays.
- Take a high-quality multivitamin. In addition to providing even more free radical-squelching antioxidants, a good daily multivitamin will fill in nutritional gaps and promote not only healthy skin but a healthy body as well.
- Stay hydrated. Adequate hydration is a foundation of healthy skin. Drinking enough water flushes out toxins, helps deliver nutrients to cells throughout the body, and helps prevent dry skin.
- Use a good moisturizer daily. Apply in the morning after washing your face and then again at bedtime. If your skin is exceptionally dry, use it again midday.
- Make fish or fish oil a part of your daily routine. The essential fatty acids found in cold-water fish and high-quality fish oil will contribute to your intake of omega-3s—healthy fats that protect your skin, eyes, brain, and several other key aspects of well-being.
Healthy Skin Awaits
Skin health is obviously about more than appearance. But it’s never too early—or late—to protect your skin. Use these tips above for healthy skin year round. And if you have tips of your own for keeping skin healthy, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org or post them on my Facebook page.