Enjoy the video! It’s a deep cut from our archives but still a powerful clinical pearl.
As we enter the warmer months here in the US, many of our patients and clients will be looking for help avoiding sunburn while still savoring the beautiful weather. As we all know, it’s obviously important to enjoy the sun responsibly, avoiding the most intense radiation times of day (10am to 3pm) as we approach summer. Just the right amount of sun gives us access to natural Vitamin D and rejuvenates the body. Too much causes oxidative damage (truly: a burn, which is an inflammatory response) to the skin. But we can’t make Vitamin D when our body is slathered with sunscreen! So many of our clients may need another tool to enjoy summer sunshine responsibly.
Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant to heal damaged skin but also to increase skin resiliency. Research shows that with regular astaxanthin use, sunburn typically happens less quickly and less intensely when we are exposed to the sun (here’s another one). This has worked for me personally (fair-skinned and freckle-prone) for years! Astaxanthin can also help to reduce/prevent other types of skin damage or dysfunction such as blemishes and wrinkles ( another one). And can be helpful for eye tissue support as well (especially macular degeneration).
Astaxanthin is made in nature by a tiny algae that sea animals (e.g. wild salmon, shellfish, krill – and yes, flamingos) eat and thus reflect its beautiful orange-pink color in their own tissue. This antioxidant is thousands of times more effective in free-radical “quenching” value than Vitamin E, CoQ10, Beta Carotene, or even Vitamin C. This is especially true for what is called “singlet oxygen quenching” which is the type of oxidative damage most typically wreaked on skin from too much sun exposure.
Encourage your patients to enjoy high-quality versions (i.e. not conventionally farm-raised) of these seafoods regularly in their diet (e.g. salmon, lobster, shrimp, crab, crayfish). For targeted benefits, they may wish to use a daily supplement, especially during the summer and early fall seasons when we tend to spend much more time outdoors. In a supplement, I recommend 8-12mg/day for these purposes. Jarrow’s Astaxanthin is an easy brand for most people to find (online or in health food stores) in the US.
Foundational choices matter! As within, so without. The skin is a reflection of our systemic, internal health (especially the gut, but that’s a different post for another day). Certainly there are many key dietary choices to make in support of long-term skin health…drinking more plain water, avoiding excessive coffee and black tea (tannins are dehydrating), keeping alcohol consumption moderate, consuming less sugar/sweeteners, saying “No” to processed and refined foods, avoiding insulin resistance, etc. As practitioners, we all know that regular, sufficient sleep also makes a huge difference. If you missed our recent video feature on Sleep Myths and Truths for Practitioners, you can catch it right here.
Thank you for empowering the people in your practice to avoid oxidative damage in the first place!
P.S. If you know that healthcare must be transformed to be sustainable and effective, and you believe strongly that Functional Medicine is key to making that happen, we urge you to learn about our semester program.
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