For diehard tan-seekers, it makes sense to do what we can to protect ourselves from the ravages of the sun. Odd though it may seem, science suggests that our ability to tan safely is, to a degree, dependent on what we eat: there is good evidence that upping our intake of specific nutrients can help us in our quest to acquire a healthy golden tan.
Our research has shown that most of these supplements should be started 2 weeks before sun exposure starts and then continue through the season. 1
We therefore recommend that beta carotene is taken year-round.
This supplement helps the skin by assisting in the production of melanin - the pigment that darkens the skin during tanning and acts as a natural sunscreen. Melanin is made from this amino acid. Taking this each day as a supplement can help the body tan quite naturally. 3
Carrots, spinach, apricots, cantaloupe melons and mangoes are all rich in this. However, additional supplementation with β-carotene may prove a convenient and economical way of getting maximum protection from this nutrient.3
The changes in skin color come largely from the carotenoid lycopene; polyphenols in fruits and vegetables may also make skin appear redder by increasing blood flow. 10
Vitamin C has been praised for its anti-aging and brightening benefits, but studies have shown that it also works as a sun-damage protectant. 6
Look for a B-Complex Vitamin that contains at least the following:
Vitamin B6 (also known as Pyridoxine) has long been believed to be essential for skin development and maintenance. 11
Studies have shown that Vitamin B5 (also known as Pantothenic Acid) works as a moisturizer on the skin and enhances the healing process of skin wounds. 7
In a randomized controlled trial performed in Australia, Vitamin B3 (also known as Nicotinamide) reduced the risk of basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma by 23%. 9
Copper is an essential trace element for many enzymes. It contributes to the production of melanin (a pigment that protects the skin from the sun) and promotes tanning. Copper favours the physiological pigmentation of the skin and contributes to its protection against oxidative stress. It is particularly effective in preparing the skin for the sun and obtaining a naturally golden complexion. 8
There is some evidence that taking high amounts of vitamin C (over 1,500mg) can reduce copper absorption. We recommend that you take these at different times of day (morning vs. evening). 12
Copper and zinc work together in processes such as immune response, nervous system function, and healthy digestion. They are antagonists, meaning that levels of copper increases, zinc supplementation is also recommended.4
Zinc should be taken with food as it can cause nausea on an empty stomach. 5