The role of phytonutrients in skin health

Nutrients. 2010 Aug;2(8):903-28. doi: 10.3390/nu2080903. Epub 2010 Aug 24.


Photodamage is known to occur in skin with exposure to sunlight, specifically ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Such damage includes inflammation, oxidative stress, breakdown of the extracellular matrix, and development of cancer in the skin. Sun exposure is considered to be one of the most important risk factors for both nonmelanoma and melanoma skin cancers. Many phytonutrients have shown promise as photoprotectants in clinical, animal and cell culture studies. In part, the actions of these phytonutrients are thought to be through their actions as antioxidants. In regard to skin health, phytonutrients of interest include vitamin E, certain flavonoids, and the carotenoids, β-carotene, lycopene and lutein.

Keywords: carotenoids; flavonoids; photodamage; vitamin E.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Carotenoids / pharmacology*
  • Flavonoids / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Lutein / pharmacology
  • Lycopene
  • Melanoma / etiology
  • Melanoma / prevention & control*
  • Mice
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Rats
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Sunlight / adverse effects
  • Ultraviolet Rays / adverse effects
  • Vitamin E / pharmacology*
  • beta Carotene / pharmacology


  • Antioxidants
  • Flavonoids
  • beta Carotene
  • Vitamin E
  • Carotenoids
  • Lycopene
  • Lutein