A new study from Germany confirms that the regular intake of carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin, seems to protect skin from light-induced damages and related diseases.
In the randomized controlled trial, the radical protection of the skin and the skin lipid profile were measured in 24 healthy participants (aged between 22 and 66 years) receiving a daily carotenoid supplement of 1 mg beta-carotene, 2.2 mg lutein, 0.7 mg zeaxanthin and 0.4 mg lycopene, or a placebo, for eight weeks (1). The study results showed that participants who used the supplement had a slow but significant increase in cuta- neous carotenoid concentration, a higher radical scavenging activity in their skin, and a significantly better protection against stress-induced radical formation (measured using electron paramagnetic resonance spect- roscopy) when compared to the placebo group. In addition, the concentration of skin lipids (particularly the stratum corneum lipids) in the supplement group increased in comparison to the placebo group.
The researchers commented that these results indicate that supplementation with antioxidant carotenoids in physiological concentrations seems to protect the skin against reactive oxygen species and could prevent premature skin aging and other radical associated skin diseases. Earlier research has already suggested that the intake of carotenoids in a moderate dose may have several health benefits, such as photoprotection against UV irradiation, increasing microcirculation, and prevention of accelerated skin aging (2, 3). The sca- venging of free radicals by the carotenoids can occur inside the cells to prevent cell damage, such as DNA oxidation or cell membrane damage, which is correlated with lipid peroxidation. In this context, sunlight is one of the most harmful environmental hazards for the skin, leading to premature skin aging, inflammation, and a higher risk of skin cancer. Adequate concentrations of specific lipids in the stratum corneum, the outer- most layer of the epidermis, are of crucial importance to ensure that the barrier function of the skin remains.