Summer means holidays, beach time, and fun in the sun. But it also means sun damage!
The UV Index in New Zealand is one of the highest in the world. We’re not only closer to the hole in the ozone layer, we’re closer to the sun during our summers. In other words, Kiwis are affected by harmful UV rays than almost any other country in the world.
There are plenty of ways to protect ourselves from summer sun damage. First of all, there’s sunscreen. Applying sunscreen with a high SPF (at least 50+) should be an essential part of your daily routine during summer. You should also be wearing sunglasses, a hat, and clothes that cover as much bare skin as possible. And stay in the shade when you can!
But that’s not the only way to protect yourself from harmful UV rays. Real protection comes from within, and that’s in the form of antioxidants.
Why are antioxidants so important for sun protection?
That’s what we’ll explain!
Antioxidants and UV rays
Sunscreen is like an armour that protects your sensitive skin from UV rays. Unfortunately, it can’t provide 100% protection all the time. Especially if you don’t always remember to apply sunscreen before stepping outdoors!
When UV rays hit our skin, they cause oxidative stress to our skin cells. This is what leads to cellular damage, which in turn causes premature ageing and wrinkles.
Also, sunscreen can only protect skin from UVA and UVB rays. Most sunscreens don’t block out UVC, the visible light spectrum such as blue light and infrared light.
So, what can you do to protect your body from sun damage?
Load up on antioxidants!
Blocking UV rays is only the first step in protecting your skin. You also need antioxidants to neutralise the free radical damage and oxidative stress that the sun causes.
What are antioxidants?
To understand antioxidants, you need to first understand oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress occurs when your body’s own antioxidant capacity can’t fight off harmful free radicals, also known as reactive oxygen species (ROS). These ROS can cause severe damage to your body’s cells.
But that’s where antioxidants come in. They turn these free radicals into harmless molecules and can potentially prevent them from causing damage to your body.
How do you get antioxidants?
Lots of ways! Antioxidants are present in plenty of plant foods, such as leafy greens, brightly-coloured fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. You can easily add these foods to your diet to boost your antioxidant capacity naturally.
But there’s an even better way: with supplements.
A quick Google search will show you that there are now hundreds of supplements available containing antioxidants. But there’s only one that you should really pay attention to, and that’s Astaxanthin.
What is Astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is even more powerful than Vitamin A, Vitamin C, lycopene, lutein, and Vitamin E. When it comes to protecting your body from sun damage, it’s believed to be one of the best antioxidants on the planet.
For a start, Astaxanthin can help promote the proteins that make skin cells, such as elastin and collagen. These proteins are necessary to strengthen your skin and keep it soft and supple.
But studies have also shown that Astaxanthin can help reduce sun damage (known as photodamage) to the skin.
How Astaxanthin can protect against sun damage
Astaxanthin is structured in a way that allows it to pass through cell membranes quickly and easily. Once absorbed, it can provide powerful protection for many organs and tissues such as muscles, skin, lungs, and heart.
Helps to prevent skin ageing caused by the sun
Taking Astaxanthin daily can help prevent the harmful effects of UV rays by decreasing the number of free radicals caused by the sun. Free radicals are responsible for breaking down collagen in the skin, causing skin to become loose and saggy. Free radical damage can also lead to blemishes such as dark spots and fine lines.
Astaxanthin can help protect the skin from UV radiation, reducing photoaging.
May help maintain healthy skin
Reduces As we all know, UV rays can also lead to sunburn. Sunburn not only makes our skin red and sore, it has serious implications for our health. Astaxanthin can help here! A Japanese study found that Astaxanthin may provide important protection against UV-induced skin deterioration and can help maintain healthy skin. Astaxanthin has also been found to boost skin elasticity and moisture, while reducing age spots and wrinkles.
The sensitive cells of our eyes are constantly exposed to oxidative stress from UV light, which can be disastrous for our long-term vision. Oxidative stress has been linked to a range of eye diseases, including cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD). However, taking astaxanthin can help protect against UV light and AMD, while also improving circulation to the eyes.
Helps protect your whole body
Many studies have now demonstrated that astaxanthin can help reduce both oxidative stress and lipid peroxidation in the body, which can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases including cancer and cardiovascular disease. At the same time, Astaxanthin supports the immune system, reduces inflammation, and blocks oxidative damage to DNA. In other words, it provides whole-body protection!
While it seems strange to think that a tiny capsule could provide so many benefits against the sun, science has shown that Astaxanthin could be an important part of your sun care routine. In a nutshell, antioxidants like Astaxanthin can help your skin fight against the harm caused by the sun, potentially increasing the level of protection provided by your sunscreen. That’s a good reason to add it to your health regime!