by London Nutritionist Sylvia Hensher
How Antioxidants and Vitamins Can Help Prevent Sunburn
The amount of antioxidants that you have in your skin plays a major role in your development of sunburn. The more antioxidants you consume, the lower your risk of sunburn. Studies on UVA and UVB sunlight have taught us that our cells essentially “shut down” when the damage caused by sunlight becomes too great. When certain kinds of skin cells (called keratinocytes) are overexposed to UVA and/or UVB sunlight, they experience one particular type of stress called oxidative stress which can overload our antioxidant levels. Damage to our DNA is also part of what happens in sunburn cell formation. Foods containing effective antioxidants to boost your “internal sunscreen” include:
- Goji berries (not the juice)
- Green tea
- foods rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin ,including dark green leafy vegetables, kale, spinach, broccoli, corn, peas, Brussels sprouts, and romaine lettuce
- vitamin C rich foods such as bell peppers, broccoli, papaya, Brussels sprouts, and strawberries
- selenium rich foods such as mushrooms and different types of fish, including cod, pawns, tuna, snapper, halibut, and salmon
- vitamin E rich foods such as sunflower seeds, almonds, olives, and dark green leafy vegetables
Safe Tanning Guidelines
If your skin is unused to the sun, it is important to build up your tolerance regularly and gradually. To start with, limit your exposure to 10 minutes a day, then progressively increase your time in the sun so that you can have normal sun exposure with little risk of skin cancer.
Time of Day – Early morning is the best time to sunbathe if you have not already built up a base tan, because you’re less likely to burn in the mild morning sun than later in the day.
Regular Intervals – Regular sunbathing is extremely important; you can’t cram all of your sun exposure into a two or three week vacation period and expect to experience the benefits. Intermittent overexposure can increase the danger of skin cancer. Thus, frequent, short periods of exposure are best.
Skin Exposure– For optimal benefit, strive to have at least 40 percent of your skin uncovered.
Optimal Exposure Time – A light-skinned person fairly far from the equator (such as in the UK or the northern U.S.) needs at least three 20 minute sessions per week, in bright midday sunlight and with few clothes. Longer will be needed if sunbathing occurs at off-peak times for ultraviolet light (before 12 PM or after 3 PM) or at the beginning or end of the summer (April or September). A dark-skinned person, of course, should be outside significantly longer.
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