The days are getting longer and temperatures are trending upwards. And even though you’ve been urged to remain indoors, it doesn’t mean you can’t get out in your yard or a quiet street for some much-needed sunlight.
Getting fresh air and some much-needed vitamin D can help relieve the stress of being cooped up all day. Vitamin D can also help improve mood and promote a healthier immune system. But getting enough vitamin D can come at a price.
The best source of vitamin D is sunlight. I’m certainly not the first person to tell you that the sun poses some severe risks for your skin. Aside from serious health conditions, sunlight exposure can lead to “photoaging,” which is UV-caused oxidative stress.
The first signs of photoaging can be lines, discoloration, and wrinkles. You might think that topical creams and serums may be your only way to take care of your skin. But diet—particularly foods that are high in certain antioxidants—can also help keep skin healthy.
Your skin produces antioxidants naturally, but age can slow down the assembly line. The result can be older-looking, less healthy skin. But eating an antioxidant-rich diet can help replenish the stores you’re utilizing to stave off the effects of UV exposure.
When eaten, antioxidants can help your skin absorb UV rays and prevent skin damage. Here are some of the best:
- Astaxanthin: Astaxanthin is a carotenoid antioxidant that gives salmon, shrimp, red algae, and grapefruit a pinkish hue. Research has shown that it can help skin manage photodamage while playing a role in manufacturing skin cells, collagen, and elastin.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is found in high amounts in skin cells; however, it needs to be consumed daily for the full benefit. UV rays can deplete epidermal stores of vitamin C, so increasing intake in the summer months is recommended.
- Vitamin C also works to produce collagen to keep skin looking healthy and youthful, and plenty of research suggests it benefits skin’s elasticity, tone, and texture. Bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, and citrus are great sources.
- Vitamin E: Vitamin E helps manage damage to skin cell membranes and reduces the negative effects of free radicals. Spinach, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and olive oil are all great sources of this fat-soluble vitamin.
- Beta-Carotene: Found in a variety of orange fruits and vegetables, as well as kale, this antioxidant has been shown to support skin health in a major way. It has been shown to promote smoother and more elastic skin, limiting the most visible markers of photodamage.
- Resveratrol: Wine drinkers rejoice. The antioxidant responsible for deep hues of raspberries, blueberries, and red wine has been shown to manage UV-induced skin aging. Alcohol, of course, can ramp up free radical production, so food sources might be better options.
Although your skin is the outer layer of your body, maintaining its health is partly an inside job. Although antioxidants are not substitutes for sunscreen, they can help preserve the health of your skin and offer a series of benefits.