Here we are: the spring has arrived, and at the same time (hopefully!) also weekends with friends in the open air, enjoying the first rays of the sun and filling up with lots, lots of good humor, as well as UV rays ... unprepared, in this post of our blog we will see what are the benefits that the sun's rays bring to our skin and also the importance of preparing for exposure to the rays with nutraceutical sun supplements, able to both favor the beloved tan and avoid us annoying burns and rashes.

Benefits of sun exposure

Exposure to sunlight, with the necessary precautions and gradually, allows to trigger beneficial processes with positive effects for the organism, such as:

  • Promote photosynthesis of vitamin D;
  • Relieve rheumatic pains;
  • Help minimize skin problems such as acne, eczema, seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis.

As if that weren't enough, sunlight on the skin is also able to stimulate the synthesis and release of particular brain neurotransmitters, serotonin and dopamine. These two hormones, known respectively as "hormone of good mood" and "hormone of euphoria", are biogenic amines capable of influencing our behavior. In fact, they condition the functioning of the nervous system, and, as their nicknames suggest, they are very important for the state of mental health, pushing us to have social and emotional behaviors, of euphoria and well-being. It is therefore clear that the tan on our skin is just one of the many positive effects that we can derive from exposure to sunlight.

Why is it important to prepare for the sun?

Tanning, as already widely known, requires a gradual approach and adequate protection. Neglecting the introductory and protective phase, which involves the application of creams with UVA and UVB protection factors suitable for your complexion and possibly the intake of special sun supplements, can cause various unwanted aspects:

  • redness,
  • erythema,
  • sunburn,
  • peeling.

These problems, in addition to being clearly unsightly, are really harmful to the health of the skin, which can thus lose its elasticity, favoring the appearance of wrinkles and sun spots.

Effects of UVA and UVB rays on the skin

UV rays (from "Ultra Violet") are invisible to humans and constitute an interval of electromagnetic radiation, belonging to the electromagnetic spectrum, with a wavelength immediately shorter than the light visible to the human eye and immediately higher than that of X-rays. Ultraviolet radiation, which is contained in sunlight, is strong enough to alter both DNA and Protein. The biological effects of UV, due to their ability to interact with these biological molecules, are responsible for phenomena such as tanning, freckles and sunburn, and also represent the main cause of risk for the development of skin cancers.

About 3-5% of the UV waves that arrive on earth are made up of so -called UVB rays, those that cause sunburn and sunburn , acting on the surface. In fact, they can be easily filtered by clouds, surfaces such as glass and solar protection

UVA rays, on the other hand, are 95% of the sun's rays that reach our surface and are still present all year round. They are those able to penetrate deeper into the layers of the epidermis, reaching the dermis, and which tanning the skin, when stimulated by solar radiation, releases melanin, a protein substance capable of absorbing UV and blocking them before they damage the skin. various skin layers.


The combination of UVB and UVA rays strongly dehydrates the skin and causes a greater flow of blood to the surface, damaging the elastin and collagen Fibre. As a result, the skin loses its elasticity and tone. This generates a strong impact on oxidative stress, producing free radicals, particularly aggressive and harmful molecules.

Solar supplements to protect the skin

The nutraceuticals allows to support the sun protection also starting "from the inside", preparing the skin in advance thanks to the use of food supplements and natural extracts. These products allow us to obtain a healthy and uniform complexion but, above all, to activate the skin's defenses and counteract the damage caused by the sun and free radicals. Some of the more common sun supplements are:

  • Carotenoids, such as beta-carotene;
  • Astaxantine;
  • Picnogenolo;
  • Lycopene;
  • Antioxidant vitamins, such as C and E;
  • Lutein;
  • Trace elements, such as zinc, selenium, copper;
  • Coenzyme Q10.

Let's see them together in detail. 1. Carotenoids: Betacarotene

Science has shown that the presence of this microelement in an adequate measure allows to reduce the sensitivity of the skin to UV rays of type A and B. Beta- carotene (or provitamin A, or the precursor molecule of retinol) allows to counteract the free radicals that they attack the skin, the lens and the retina, thus becoming the symbol of nutraceuticals for sun protection, to always be combined with topical creams or lotions.

Beta-carotene is a yellow-orange pigment that is part of carotenoids, vegetable pigments that are found in large quantities in fruit, certain legumes, carrots, peppers, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and algae (such as spirulina). It is an excellent antioxidant and primary source of vitamin A. As a sort of natural UV filter, beta-carotene "absorbs" the harmful portion of blue light and helps protect the skin from the highly energetic rays that attack skin cells.

  1. Astaxantine

Among the most potent antioxidant carotenoids in nature, astaxanthin is a red-orange pigment, produced by the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis , which also characterizes the reddish color of shrimps and salmon. Astaxanthin is decidedly more powerful than beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, lycopene or lutein (all members of the same "chemical family") and is capable of a very powerful action against free radicals.

Astaxanthin has been shown to help against UV radiation damage by acting as an internal sunscreen that can defend against radiation, thus promoting:

  • the prevention of skin aging and increased wrinkles,
  • greater elasticity and shine of the skin,
  • more internal hydration.

Unlike topical sunscreens, astaxanthin does not block UV rays, therefore it does not prevent UVB from converting into vitamin D (thus allowing you to "gain" additional vitamin quantity), but it helps to defend the skin from sunburn and reduce the inflammation. Per this purpose, a daily dose of 4mg is sufficient for at least two weeks after the first exposure. Those who exercise outdoors should take a dose between 8mg and 12mg per day, to extend the benefits also on performance and recovery.

  1. Picnogenolo

Another solar supplement with a protective action against UV damage is pycnogenol: an extraordinary antioxidant extracted from the bark of the French maritime pine, rich in nutrients such as bioflavonoids and antioxidant procyanidins.

Against the skin, the pycnogenol acts by renewing it, hydrating it (thanks to the improvement of local circulation), making it more elastic, smooth and counteracting skin aging thanks to its action on collagen and elastin molecules.

Some studies have shown that the exposure times required to develop a sunburn can be increased with the integration of pycnogenol, which also helps prevent skin inflammation caused by UV rays.

  1. Lycopene

Lycopene , from the same family of carotenoids to which astaxanthin also belongs, has always been known to act as a natural internal defense against sun damage. An interesting study published in 2001 specifically highlighted that this element extracted from tomato paste would help protect light-skinned individuals with a tendency to burn rather than tan.

  1. Vitamins E and C

The vitamin that helps prevent damage to the skin due to the sun and which has a famous antioxidant activity against free radicals is certainly vitamin E, especially when combined with the action of an additional vitamin: vitamin C. An article published on the Oregon State University Micronutrient Information Center website discusses the many functions of vitamin E for the skin, noting that

" (...) Vitamin E can absorb energy from UV light, so it plays an important role in photoprotection, preventing free radical damage to the skin ."

Vitamin E and C together have a very important synergistic action for the health of the skin in general. In fact, they work in combination not only to fight free radicals, but also to ensure optimal levels of collagen (a fundamental protein of the epidermis). We need vitamin C to aid in the synthesis of collagen necessary for skin health, as well as good levels of vitamin E to maintain adequate cross-links between collagen Fibre.

  1. Trace elements (zinc, copper and selenium)

The appropriate intake of vitamins and minerals helps to meet the "nutritional and non" needs of the skin, especially when subjected to harmful events such as photoaging or prolonged exposure to sunlight. In particular, Zinc, Copper and Selenium seem to be the three really active elements in the skin biology of aging.

  1. Coenzyme Q10

Coenzyme Q10 is a famous and powerful antioxidant found in almost every cell in the body (a ubiquitous molecule, hence its name ubiquinone), particularly in membranes and mitochondria. Also called Vitamin Q, it is naturally produced by the body, but its concentration decreases over time. Thanks to its antioxidant efficacy, it is effective in slowing down the formation of skin folds and wrinkles.



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  • Stahl W, Sies H. ß-Carotene and other carotenoids in protection from sunlight. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012 Nov;96(5):1179S-84S.
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