The sun’s rays aren’t all bad. They provide vitamin D needed for bone health, and for many, sunshine helps improve mood. While it’s commonly assumed that sunscreens are the solution to preventing sun damage, that’s not entirely true. Many sunscreens are loaded with known carcinogens like 4-methyl-benzylidene camphor (4-MBC). When applied to breast cancer cells in test tubes, this chemical increased cancer cell proliferation. Plus, sunscreens inhibit the synthesis of vitamin D.
The crucial elements of skin protection are found in the free-radical decimating antioxidants vitamins A, C, and E. The natural sunscreen ability of these nutrients protect both when applied topically and taken orally in foods or supplements. The American Institute of for Cancer Research says an antioxidant-laden diet that includes at least 5 servings of fruit and vegetables a day may reduce the risk of skin cancer by almost 20% as well as ward off premature aging. The best foods for preventing sun damage include organic red bell peppers, papaya, parsley, and broccoli, which have the highest vitamin C content. For vitamin A, carrots and spinach are the best choices, while for vitamin E, Swiss chard and sunflower seeds are not to be passed by.