Can you really increase the melanin in your skin?

Melanin is a skin pigment. It occurs in both humans and animals, and is what makes hair, skin, and eyes darker.

To research discovered that melanin can help protect the skin from UV rays. Increase melanin may also help block processes in the body that lead to skin cancer.

For many years, studies found a lower incidence of skin cancer in people with darker skin, and people of non-Caucasian descent tended to have more melanin. But more research is needed to be sure that increased melanin is the primary reason for this reduced risk.

People of any skin type can try increasing melanin to reduce the risk of skin cancer. Studies suggest that increasing your intake of certain nutrients may increase melanin levels. It might even increase the amount of melanin in fair-skinned people.

Nutrients can boost melanin

There are no studies directly proving ways to increase melanin. However, many nutrients thought to boost melanin can improve overall skin health and reduce your overall risk of developing skin cancer.

Nutrients could be the key to naturally increasing melanin in the skin. Here are some nutrients that research shows may help your body produce more melanin.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants show the greatest potential for increasing melanin production. Although more studies and high-quality trials are needed, some to research suggests that antioxidants may help.

Micronutrients like flavonoids or polyphenols, which come from the plants we eat, act as powerful antioxidants and can affect melanin production. Some of them increase melanin, while others can help reduce it.

Eat more antioxidant-rich foods such as dark leafy greens, dark berries, dark chocolate, and colorful vegetables to get more antioxidants. Taking vitamin and mineral supplements can also help.

Vitamin A

Studies suggest that vitamin A is important for melanin production and is essential for healthy skin. You get vitamin A from the foods you eat, especially vegetables that contain beta-carotene, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and peas.

Since vitamin A also functions as an antioxidant, some researchers believe that this vitamin, more than any other, may be the key to melanin production. However, more studies are still needed to directly prove that vitamin A increases melanin in humans.

So far, claims that vitamin A increases melanin levels are mostly anecdotal. However, some studies suggest that taking vitamin A (especially retinol) may be good for skin health.

A type of carotenoid (the substance that gives red, yellow and orange vegetables their color) is found in vitamin A. It may also play a role in melanin production and UV protection, According to research.

You can increase vitamin A levels by eating more vitamin A-rich foods like orange vegetables (carrots, squash, sweet potatoes), fish, and meat. Taking a vitamin A supplement can also help.

Since vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, it can build up in your body. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) suggests sticking to the recommended daily amount of 700 micrograms (mcg) for women and 900 mcg for men. Children need even less vitamin A per day.

Pregnant women should never exceed the daily dose of vitamin A, as there are dangers for the baby.

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Vitamin E

Vitamin E is an important vitamin for skin health. It is also an antioxidant and could possibly increase melanin levels.

Although there are no studies proving a direct link between vitamin E and more melanin, some studies do show vitamin E can help protect the skin against sun damage.

You can get more vitamin E by taking a supplement or by eating more vitamin E-rich foods like vegetables, grains, seeds, and nuts.

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Vitamin C

Like vitamins A and E, vitamin C is an antioxidant. Vitamin C is necessary for healthy mucous membranes. It can also impact melanin production and skin protection.

No studies prove that vitamin C increases the production of melanin. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that vitamin C may increase melanin levels.

Eating vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits, berries, and leafy green vegetables can optimize melanin production. Taking a vitamin C supplement can also help.

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Herbs and plants

Some studies explored the potential benefits of herbs and teas to protect skin from UV damage. Herbal products like green tea and turmeric, which are rich in flavonoids and polyphenols, can increase melanin and help protect the skin.

To date, no studies have proven that herbs of any kind increase melanin production. For now, such claims are only anecdotal.

However, if you are interested in trying herbs to help your skin, you can find these herbs in supplements, teas, and essential oils.

Essential oils are not meant to be taken by mouth. They are intended to be diffused in the air in aromatherapy or diluted in a vegetable oil and massaged into the skin.

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Patricia J. Callender