Summer is officially in full swing.
Which means more beach, surf, hiking, outdoors workouts...and most of all time in the SUN.
More time in the outdoors equals increased exposure to direct UV rays.
Whether you're in the lineup or taking your workouts outdoors, taking precautions to prevent overexposure to the sun can protect against sunburns, premature aging, and skin damage.
In this article, we’ll explore the best vitamins for skin to keep your skin healthy all summer long.
THE BENEFITS OF SUN EXPOSURE
When we think of the sun, we often think about its damaging effects. Although overexposure can pose significant health risks, soaking up a few rays of sunlight can benefit your mind and body.
The most well-known benefit of sunlight is its ability to boost the production of vitamin D. The energy from the sun can turn a chemical in your skin into vitamin D3. From there, it travels through the liver kidneys, where it is converted into calcitriol — the active form of vitamin D.
According to the World Health Organization, sun exposure can also help treat certain skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
The exact amount of sunlight a person needs depends on their skin tone, age, diet, geographical location, and medical history. However, most researchers agree that a person should be exposed to 10-15 minutes of sunlight each day during the summer months.
In the winter, a person may need to spend up to two hours in the sun each day to achieve the recommended doses of vitamin D.
SUMMER SKIN CARE
Although small amounts of UV rays are good for us, too much sun exposure can lead to:
- Early Aging
- Skin Cancer
- Decreased Immunity
In particular, outdoor athletes are at an increased risk for skin damage and skin cancer due to increased UV exposure.
People with fair skin and moles or a family history of skin cancer are also at a higher risk of developing sun-related health problems.
Needless to say, it’s important to protect your skin before heading outside for long periods of time.
To avoid harmful effects of the sun:
- Always apply sunscreen as the last step in your skincare routine
- Avoid prolonged sun exposure during the middle of the day when UV rays are the strongest
- Choose sunglasses that have 99-100% UV absorption to protect your eyes against damage
- Wear sun hats
Additionally, keep your nutrition on point by consuming a well-balanced diet rich in fruits and veggies that rejuvenate your skin.
You can also take supplements and vitamins to support healthy skin during the summer months.
THE BEST SUPPLEMENTS AND VITAMINS FOR SUMMER SKIN HEALTH
- B Vitamins
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It is found in the skin, tissues, bones, and tendons, where it provides structure and strength.
Around age 25, collagen production in the body begins to slow down by a rate of 1.5% each year. As a result, our skin gradually becomes thinner, drier, and less elastic.
To top things off, studies suggest sun exposure can cause collagen to break down even faster.
According to one 2021 review of 19 studies published in the International Journal of Dermatology, taking hydrolyzed collagen supplements for at least 90 days can improve skin elasticity, hydration, and wrinkles.
SOURCES OF COLLAGEN:
- Fish Skin
- Bones, ligaments, and skin of animals (e.g., chicken skin)
- Bone Broth
- Collagen supplements
There are several different B vitamins, eight of them to be precise. Not only do B vitamins play a vital role in many important processes in our body, but they also can help renew your skin.
Unfortunately, we have a limited ability to store B vitamins. A deficiency in B vitamins can lead to dry skin, wrinkles, and rashes. As such, it’s important to ensure we get adequate amounts through our diet and supplement regimen.
While research is mixed, some studies suggest applying topical creams formulated with a combination of B vitamins can help generate new, healthy skin cells.
In particular, vitamin B3 is considered to be one of the best B vitamins for skin health. One 2015 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that oral nicotinamide (B3 supplements) can reduce the risk of skin cancer by as much as 23% compared to a placebo.
SOURCES OF B VITAMINS:
- Leafy Greens
- Liver and Beef
- Nuts and Seeds
OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS
Omega-3 fatty acids are not only vital for cardiovascular health. Studies suggest that omega-3s can protect the skin from harmful UV rays.
SOURCES OF OMEGA 3'S:
Spirulina is a type of blue-green algae that is often considered a superfood because of its protein, carotenoid, vitamin, and mineral content. It is rich in B vitamins, vitamin K, vitamin E, and vitamin A, all which are known to promote healthy skin.
Thanks to its high antioxidant content, spirulina can help lessen inflammation and fight skin damage caused by free radicals.
Vitamin A and its derivatives are considered to be the most effective substances to slow the aging process. This is mainly in part due to its retinoid activity.
In fact, it is the first vitamin approved by the FDA as an anti-wrinkle agent.
According to studies, retinoids can:
- Reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines
- Stimulate collagen production
- Promote skin cell turnover
- Treat acne by reducing inflammation in the sebaceous glands
- Treat sun damage
- Improve skin tone
SOURCES OF VITAMIN A :
- Leafy Greens
- Bluefin Tuna
- Boiled Eggs
Vitamin C is an antioxidant powerhouse that helps fight off free radical damage from the sun. It is found in the dermis (the inner layer of skin) and the epidermis (the outer layer of skin).
One of the main benefits of vitamin C is its ability to increase collagen synthesis. This means it can reduce or delay early skin aging.
Studies suggest oral supplementation of vitamin C can lead to fewer wrinkles and help prevent sun-related skin damage, especially when combined with vitamin E.
Additionally, vitamin C serums can reduce hyperpigmentation (dark spots on the skin) often caused by accumulated skin damage. This can help you achieve a softer, more balanced complexion.
SOURCES OF VITAMIN C :
As mentioned earlier, your body can produce vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight.
Vitamin D contributes to skin cell metabolism, growth, and repair. It is also crucial for bone health. When applied topically, studies suggest it can lower skin inflammation and irritation in individuals with skin disorders such as psoriasis.
One 2012 review found that it can also play a role in protecting against cancer, including skin cancer.
Most healthy adults under the age of 70 should aim to get 600 IU of vitamin D per day. Those over 70 should aim to get 800 IU each day. However, many experts suggest that people who are overweight, do not get enough UV exposure, or have dark skin tones need higher intakes.
SOURCES OF VITAMIN D :
- Salmon, Tuna, and Mackerel
- Beef Liver
- Egg Yolks
- Orange juice and dairy products fortified with vitamin D
- Vitamin D Supplements
Studies suggest that nearly 42% of American adults are deficient in vitamin D, making it one of the most common vitamin deficiencies in the country. Because there are limited dietary sources of vitamin D, many people can benefit from vitamin D supplements if they fall short in meeting the recommended daily requirements.
Vitamin E is an antioxidant known for its ability to protect against UV damage and the wrinkles, fine line, and skin cancer risk that come with it. It is found in our skin’s pores as sebum, or skin oil. Vitamin E strengthens the skin’s moisture barrier, allowing your skin to stay hydrated.
Several studies suggest that topical vitamin E can absorb UV light energy, minimizing damage to the skin. It also has anti-inflammatory effects and can prevent inflammatory damage after UV exposure.
SOURCES OF VITAMIN E:
- Sunflower Seeds
- Red Bell Pepper
- Peanuts and Peanut Butter
Protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays is essential no matter the season. In addition to wearing sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses that filter UV light, adopting a healthy diet can help keep your skin healthy.
Certain vitamins, including B vitamins and vitamins A, C, D, and E, all play a part in healthy aging and protecting your skin against UV damage. Collagen, omega-3 fatty acids, and spirulina also can play a role in the overall health of your skin.
As always, consult your healthcare provider or dermatologist to discuss which vitamins and dietary supplements may benefit your skin health the most.