With summer well underway it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re protecting your skin from the sun.
UV exposure increases your risk of skin cancer and ageing and we all know that we should limit our risk by regularly applying high factor sunscreen. But is there anything else you can do to protect yourself from sun damage? Nutritionist Kim Pearson talks us through the nutrients that can provide sun protection and how to include them in our diet.
First and foremost, it’s important to note that, while consuming certain nutrients can help to protect our skin from the sun, it’s no replacement for sunscreen. A combination of topically applied and orally consumed skin-protecting agents provides the best protection.
So how can you up your sun protection from the inside?
Here are five key nutrients to know and how to get more into your diet.
Sunscreens typically only block around 55 per cent of free radicals produced by UV exposure, but antioxidants – both topically applied and consumed in our diet – can help to protect us from their damaging and ageing effects. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant with the ability to neutralise free radicals and prevent their cell-damaging effects.
What to eat: citrus fruits, kiwis, tomatoes, chillies, broccoli and sprouts
What to supplement: Vitamin C Zooki | Buy here
On the subject of antioxidants, vitamin E is another key nutrient to know. Many nutrients work in synergy with one another and studies have found that supplementation of combined vitamins C and E provide optimal protection against UV-induced free radical damage.
What to eat: almonds, sunflower seeds and spinach
What to supplement: Viridian vitamin E | Buy here
Omega 3 essential fats have numerous health benefits and play important roles in brain, eye and heart health. They are also a well known anti inflammatory with the ability to reduce UV-induced skin inflammation. It’s worth regularly including Omega 3 containing foods in the diet but this vital nutrient isn’t particularly abundant in our modern day diets and so it can be worth taking a good quality supplement.
What to eat: oily fish, walnuts and flaxseeds
What to supplement: Link Nutrition Omega 3 | Buy here
Can red veg stop your skin from, well, going red? Maybe! Beta-carotene has been shown to help protect our skin from sunburn, so including carotenoids in your diet at this time of year makes a lot of sense. Carotenoids give fruits and vegetables their yellow, orange and red colours. The foods they’re found in typically boast a range of other health benefits so they’re well worth adding to your plate this summer.
What to eat: carrots, sweet potatoes, chilli peppers, red and yellow peppers
What to supplement: Sun Chlorella | Buy here
As well as supporting your gut health and digestive function, probiotics have been shown to support skin recovery following exposure to UV rays. Including pre and probiotic foods in your diet offer a range of health benefits, including supporting your skin’s recovery from sun exposure.
What to eat: miso, sauerkraut, kimchi and tempeh
What to supplement: Symprove | Buy here
The smartest approach to skincare combines effective topical agents with orally consumed nutrients to provide 360 degree protection. Leading cosmetic nurse Jane Wilson advises “everyone should be using a daily sunscreen with an SPF of minimum 30, year round. Even in winter months the effects of UV rays from the sun, as well as radiation from screens, can significantly impact skin health. One of the most impactful ways to slow down skin ageing is by using a cosmeceutical grade sunscreen every day and reapplying it every two to four hours when in direct sunlight.”
Kim Pearson is a qualified nutritionist and runs a weight loss clinic on London’s Harley Street. She consults clients in London and internationally via her virtual consulting room. For more information about Kim and the services she offers, visit her website.