Background: Carotenoids and tocopherols, known to be efficient antioxidants and capable of scavenging reactive oxygen species generated during photooxidative stress, may protect the skin from ultraviolet light-induced erythema. beta-Carotene is widely used as an oral sun protectant but studies on its protective effects are scarce.
Objective: 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.
Design: 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.
Results: 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.
Conclusion: The antioxidants used in this study provided protection against erythema in humans and may be useful for diminishing sensitivity to ultraviolet light.