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Beta-carotene for skin protection. Influence on melasma.

A study by the University Witten-Herdecke, Germany, found that supplementation with beta-carotene or a carotenoid mix ameliorates UV-induced redness of the skin. The scientist compared the protective effect of beta-carotene (24 mg/d) to that of carotenoid mix consisting of beta-carotene, lutein and lycopene (8 mg/d each). The intensity of redness of the skin 24 hours after irradiation was reduced in both groups [1].

Topical treatment with beta-carotene could be used as an effective treatment of melasma. This was the conclusion of a clinical study conducted by the Department of Dermatology of Dr RML Hospital in New Delhi. Melasma is a dark facial skin discoloration that is particularly common in women. The symptoms of melasma are dark, irregular patches on the upper cheek, nose, lips and forehead. They tested the safety and efficacy of beta-carotene on 31 adults with melasma. They found that beta-carotene reduced the severity of pigmentation. Most cases with high grade pigmentation improved to a lower grade of pigmentation and some cases recovered completely. Some side effects such as mild erythema and local irritation were observed in two participants [2].

Beta-carotene may also act as a pro-oxidant when irradiated with ultraviolet A. Taiwanese researchers showed that beta-carotene induced DNA damage in cultured fibroblast cells treated with ultraviolet A radiation. They found that treatment with the flavonoids (naringin, rutin and quercetin) significantly decreased this DNA damage. Naringin and rutin were the flavonoids with the strongest protective action. They suggested that a combination of beta-carotene with naringin, rutin or quercetin may increase the safety of beta-carotene [3].

[1] Heinrich U, Gärtner C, Wiebusch M, Eichler O, Sies H, Tronnier H, Stahl W. " Supplementation with beta-carotene or a similar amount of mixed carotenoids protects humans from UV-induced erythema." J Nutr. 2003 Jan;133(1):98-101.
[2] Kar HK. "Efficacy of beta-carotene topical application in melasma: an open clinical trial." Indian J Dermatol Venereol Leprol. 2002 Nov-Dec;68(6):320-2.
[3] Yeh SL, Wang WY, Huang CH, Hu ML. " Pro-oxidative effect of beta-carotene and the interaction with flavonoids on UVA-induced DNA strand breaks in mouse fibroblast C3H10T1/2 cells." J Nutr Biochem. 2005 Dec;16(12):729-35

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