Nutritional approach to sun protection: a suggested complement to external strategies

Nutr Rev. 2010 Feb;68(2):75-86. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2009.00264.x.


The increasing incidence of skin cancer despite the use of externally applied sun protection strategies, alongside research showing that nutrients reduce photo-oxidative damage, suggest nutritional approaches could play a beneficial role in skin cancer prevention. Penetrating photo-oxidative ultraviolet A radiation reduces skin and blood antioxidants and damages cell components, including DNA. Dietary antioxidant vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals in addition to n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, n-9 monounsaturated fatty acids, and low pro-inflammatory n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, have demonstrated protective properties. The presence of these elements in the traditional Greek-style Mediterranean diet may have contributed to the low rates of melanoma in the Mediterranean region despite high levels of solar radiation. This suggests a potentially relevant model for studying dietary/nutritional supplementation for lifelong internal support of sun-protection mechanisms, which could complement external strategies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Antioxidants / administration & dosage*
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • DNA Damage
  • Diet, Mediterranean*
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Melanoma / epidemiology
  • Melanoma / prevention & control*
  • Micronutrients / administration & dosage*
  • Micronutrients / metabolism
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Skin Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena / drug effects
  • Sunscreening Agents / administration & dosage


  • Antioxidants
  • Dietary Fats, Unsaturated
  • Micronutrients
  • Sunscreening Agents