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How much do Carotenoids Protect Against the Sun ?

β-Carotene and other carotenoids in protection from sunlight. Stahl W. et al. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Nov;96(5):1179S-84S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.112.034819. Epub 2012 Oct 10.

Carotene micronutrients are antioxydants (β-carotene or for lycopene). Some, such as lycopenes contained in fruits such as Watermelons and Tomatoes (technically a fruit but cooked as a vegetable) are powerful antioxidants.

This review examines nutritional aspect of phytochemicals in humans
When administered orally, carotenoid micronutrients may have have a photoprotective effect on he skin.

Mechanism of action: Light induces photo-oxidative processes, which generates radical oxygen species (ROS) Antioxidants such as carotenoids bind to ROS therefore deactivating them.

-Food comprises other Molecules with suitable structures which absorb UV light and prevent  direct damage of cellular targets.
Carotenoid precursors such as Phytoene and phytofluene are precursor molecules  found in fruits and vegetables and they absorb in both UVA and UVB, and are also photoprotective.

Warning: Photoprotection as of 2015 will never match conventional sunscreens and because of absorption properties as well as the renewal of skin cells, the effect cannot be immediate but will take a few weeks (latency).

In conclusion, lycopenes are being used as food supplements and they can have a role to play in long term preservation of the skin against UV radiation, thus contributes to maintaining a healthy, good-looking skin.

Lycopenes are also available in foods. To view a list of foods which contain them, click HERE

Article selection: Prof Dr Jean-Hilaire Saurat – dermatologist. Geneva, Switzerland