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 about 10,000 international units of vitamin D[i] — well above the 600-800 IU daily intake recommended by the Institute of Medicine.[ii]
(Note: Keep in mind the amount of vitamin D your skin manufactures in sunlight varies based on your skin pigmentation and the amount of UV-B rays available — which depends on the area you live in, the time of the year, the time of day, weather conditions, and the amount of ozone depletion. To see the current UV index for your area, go to the Environmental Protection Agency’s UV index and enter your zip code. This could be a good question to discuss with your dermatologist or family physician to find out what would be right for you based on your personal skin pigmentation and history.)
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 and mutations that can lead to cancer.[iii] 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. [iv]
In addition to these external measures, we can help our skin all 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.
Vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant, is a normal part of the skin and found in both the dermis and epidermis layers. Excessive exposure to UV rays has been shown to cause declines in vitamin C concentrations and antioxidant defenses in both layers, but especially the epidermis.[v],[vi] Vitamin C is able to reduce UV-induced free radical damage.[vii],[viii] A combination of vitamins C and E has been shown to protect against UV-induced DNA damage.[ix],[x] (For more on vitamin E, check out this post: Nutrient Focus: Vitamin E)
Vitamin C is important for collagen and a deficiency leads to a decrease in collagen synthesis[xi], collagen being the building block of skin, cartilage, ligaments and blood vessels. Vitamin C is essential for healing wounds, which is why those with vitamin C deficiency (a.k.a. scurvy) get wounds that won’t heal.
RDA: 75 mg/d for women (unless pregnant or breastfeeding) and 90 mg/d for men.[xii]
Food Sources: Sweet peppers, guava, dark green leafy vegetables, citruses, strawberries, and many more.
Reliv Sources:Reliv Classic®, Reliv Now® with LunaRich®, Reliv Now for Kids® with LunaRich, Glucaffect® with LunaRich, Slimplicity® with LunaRich, SoySentials® with LunaRich, 24K™, FibRestore® and Innergize!®.
Pycnogenol, in addition to many other health benefits, is a natural antioxidant and has been shown in cell culture studies to inhibit damage caused by UV radiation.[xiii]
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.
Reliv Sources: Reliv Now with LunaRich and Glucaffect with LunaRich. You can also enjoy Pycnogenol topically with the r skincare collection.
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. Cells in both the dermis and epidermis contain proteins and receptors that mediate vitamin A’s biological effects. Both UVA and UVB destroy Vitamin A.[xiv]
Vitamin A is required for the immune system to function. It maintains the integrity and function of skin and mucosal cells, our first line of defense.[xv] 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.[xvi] Vitamin A is also important for wound healing.[xvii]
RDA: 700 µg/d for women (unless pregnant or breastfeeding) and 900 µg/d for men.[xviii]
Food Sources: Many plants contain carotenoids, which our bodies convert into vitamin A. Some examples include sweet potatoes, raw carrots, mangos, cantaloupe, spinach, broccoli, and kale, to name a few. Animal food sources of vitamin A include milk, eggs, and cod liver oil.[xix]
Reliv Sources: Reliv Classic, Reliv Now with LunaRich, Reliv Now for Kids with LunaRich, Slimplicity with LunaRich, FibRestore, and Innergize!. You can also enjoy vitamin A topically with the r skincare collection.
Selenium is an essential trace mineral that has been shown in cell culture studies to protect skin cells from UV radiation by increasing the activity of certain antioxidant enzymes that depend upon selenium.[xx],[xxi] In a mice study both oral and topical L-selenomethionine were effective in reducing damages caused by UV radiation.[xxii] Selenium deficiency can impair the immune system.
RDA: 55 mcg/d for men and women (unless pregnant or breastfeeding)
Food Sources: Plant sources include brazil nuts, puffed wheat, whole-wheat bread and oatmeal. Animal sources include tuna, halibut, sardines, shrimp, beef and turkey.[xxiii]
Reliv Sources: Reliv Classic, Reliv Now with LunaRich, Reliv Now for Kids with LunaRich, and Slimplicity with LunaRich.
Zinc is another essential trace mineral in the body. It is found mostly in the skeletal muscles and bones, but 6% of total body zinc resides in the skin[xxiv]. One of the things zinc does for the skin is stabilizing skin cell membranes. It protects against reactive oxygen species (ROS) and bacterial toxins. Zinc is also involved in DNA synthesis and cell division. A deficiency in zinc can also delay wound healing.[xxv] Zinc oxide is a common sunscreen ingredient because it absorbs and reflects both UVA and UVB radiation.[xxvi]
RDA: 8 mg for women (unless pregnant or breastfeeding) and 11 mg for men[xxvii].
Food Sources: Plant sources include wheat germ, pumpkin and squash seeds, cashews, cacao and beans. Animal sources include oysters, beef, crab and lobster.[xxviii]
Reliv Sources: Reliv Classic, Reliv Now with LunaRich®, Reliv Now for Kids with LunaRich, Slimplicity with LunaRich, Innergize!
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.
[v] Aging- and photoaging-dependent changes of enzymic and nonenzymic antioxidants in the epidermis and dermis of human skin in vivo. Rhie G1, Shin MH, Seo JY, Choi WW, Cho KH, Kim KH, Park KC, Eun HC, Chung JH. J Invest Dermatol. 2001 Nov;117(5):1212-7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11710935?dopt=Citation
Rhie G, Shin MH, Seo JY, et al. Aging- and photoaging-dependent changes of enzymic and nonenzymic antioxidants in the epidermis and dermis of human skin in vivo. J Invest Dermatol 2001;117:1212-1217.
[vi] Shindo Y, Witt E, Packer L. Antioxidant defense mechanisms in murine epidermis and dermis and their responses to ultraviolet light. J Invest Dermatol 1993;100:260-265.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8440901?dopt=Citation
[vii] Tebbe B, Wu S, Geilen CC, Eberle J, Kodelja V, Orfanos CE. L-ascorbic acid inhibits UVA-induced lipid peroxidation and secretion of IL-1alpha and IL-6 in cultured human keratinocytes in vitro. J Invest Dermatol 1997;108:302-306. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9036929?dopt=Citation
[viii] Stewart MS, Cameron GS, Pence BC. Antioxidant nutrients protect against UVB-induced oxidative damage to DNA of mouse keratinocytes in culture. J Invest Dermatol 1996;106:1086-1089. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8618044?dopt=Citation
[ix] Placzek M, Gaube S, Kerkmann U, et al. Ultraviolet B-induced DNA damage in human epidermis is modified by the antioxidants ascorbic acid and D-alpha-tocopherol. J Invest Dermatol 2005;124:304-307. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15675947?dopt=Citation
[x] Eberlein-Konig B, Placzek M, Przybilla B. Protective effect against sunburn of combined systemic ascorbic acid (vitamin C) and d-alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E). J Am Acad Dermatol 1998;38:45-48. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9448204?dopt=Citation
[xi] Hodges RE, Hood J, Canham JE, Sauberlich HE, Baker EM. Clinical manifestations of ascorbic acid deficiency in man. Am J Clin Nutr 1971;24:432-443.http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/24/4/432.long
[xiii] 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/
[xiv] Törmä H, Berne B, Vahlquist A. UV irradiation and topical vitamin A modulate retinol esterification in hairless mouse epidermis. Acta Derm Venereol. 1988;68(4):291-9.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2459873
[xv] The effect of vitamin A on epithelial integrity.McCullough, F. et al. The effect of vitamin A on epithelial integrity. Nutr Soc. 1999; volume 58: pages 289-293. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10466169?dopt=Abstract
[xvi] Vitamin A as an anti-inflammatory agent. Proc Nutr Soc. 2002 Aug;61(3):397-400. The School of Nutritional Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.http://journals.cambridge.org/download.php?file=%2FPNS%2FPNS61_03%2FS0029665102000393a.pdf&code=fdd43ebdb3db743b3395fd739ff44a29
[xvii] Brandaleone H, Papper E. The effect of the local and oral administration of cod liver oil on the rate of wound healing in vitamin A-deficient and normal rats. Ann Surg. 1941;114(4):791-798. (PubMed)
[xx] McKenzie RC. Selenium, ultraviolet radiation and the skin. Clin Exp Dermatol. 2000;25(8):631-636. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11167979
[xxi] Schallreuter KU, Pittelkow MR, Wood JM. Free radical reduction by thioredoxin reductase at the surface of normal and vitiliginous human keratinocytes. J Invest Dermatol. 1986;87(6):728-732. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2431070
[xxii] Burke KE, Combs GF, Jr., Gross EG, Bhuyan KC, Abu-Libdeh H. The effects of topical and oral L-selenomethionine on pigmentation and skin cancer induced by ultraviolet irradiation. Nutr Cancer. 1992;17(2):123-137. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1584707
[xxiv] Polefka TG, Bianchini RJ, Shapiro S. Interaction of mineral salts with the skin: a literature survey. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2012;34(5):416-423.http://jn.nutrition.org/content/130/5/1360S.long
[xxv] Lansdown AB, Mirastschijski U, Stubbs N, Scanlon E, Agren MS. Zinc in wound healing: theoretical, experimental, and clinical aspects. Wound Repair Regen. 2007;15(1):2-16.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17244314
[xxvi] 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
[xxvii] Polefka TG, Bianchini RJ, Shapiro S. Interaction of mineral salts with the skin: a literature survey. Int J Cosmet Sci. 2012;34(5):416-423.http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2494.2012.00731.x/pdf