Vitamin E Can Protect Against Sunburns

by PUB MED, February 29, 2000

Carotenoids and carotenoids plus vitamin E protect against ultraviolet light-induced erythema in humans.

Author: Stahl W1Heinrich UJungmann HSies HTronnier H.



Carotenoids and tocopherols, known to be efficient antioxidants and capable of scavenging reactive oxygen species generated during photooxidative stress, may protectthe skin from ultraviolet light-induced erythema. beta-Carotene is widely used as an oral sun protectant but studies on its protective effects are scarce.


The objective of this study was to investigate the protective effects of oral supplementation with carotenoids and a combination of carotenoids and vitamin E against the development of erythema in humans.


A carotenoid supplement (25 mg total carotenoids/d) and a combination of the carotenoid supplement and vitamin E [335 mg (500 IU) RRR-alpha-tocopherol/d] were given for 12 wk to healthy volunteers. Erythema was induced by illumination with a blue-light solar simulator. Serum beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol concentrations and skin carotenoid levels were assessed by HPLC and reflection photometry.


Serum beta-carotene and alpha-tocopherol concentrations increased with supplementation. Erythema on dorsal skin (back) was significantly diminished (P < 0.01) after week 8, and erythema suppression was greater with the combination of carotenoids and vitamin E than with carotenoids alone.


The antioxidants used in this study provided protection against erythema in humans and may be useful for diminishing sensitivity to ultraviolet light.

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