Do you love spending time outdoors? If you like going to the beach or simply love being under the sun, then you probably already know how damaging too much can be for the skin. Besides sunscreen and wearing long sleeves, researchers in Italy say what you eat can actually help protect your skin against the sun’s rays. Their study found niacin (vitamin B3) to help shield the skin from ultraviolet (UV) exposure and in the process lower the risk of developing skin cancer.
Niacin is an important nutrient that’s abundant almost everywhere. It’s in many vegetables, fruits, whole grains, animal protein and dairy products. The two main forms of this vitamin are nicotinic acid and nicotinamide (NAM). Each have different roles in the body. Previous research has shown that nicotinic acid helps lower cholesterol levels, while NAM interacts with the skin cells.
The Italian team studied cells from the skin of patients diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancers. Researchers treated these cancers with three different doses of NAM for 18, 24, and 48 hours. The samples were then exposed to UV light.
Niacin helps repair potentially cancerous skin damage
The results showed that pre-treating cells with NAM a day before exposure to UV radiation protects them from oxidative stress. This includes DNA damage caused by ultraviolet rays. NAM also improved DNA repair in these cells by decreasing the expression of the enzyme OGG1.
“Our study indicates that increasing the consumption of vitamin B3, which is readily available in the daily diet, will protect the skin from some of the effects of UV exposure, potentially reducing the incidence of non-melanoma skin cancers. However, the protective effect of vitamin B3 is short-acting, so it should be consumed no later than 24 to 48 hours before sun exposure,” says Lara Camillo, a research student from University Hospital Maggiore della Carita in a media release.
Researchers say non-melanoma skin cancers are the most common tumors among caucasian patients. The main risk factor for these growths is overexposure to the Sun’s radiation. Too little exposure isn’t good for you, but too much isn’t ideal. Prolonged exposure to UV rays for long periods of time can DNA, cause inflammation, deplete cellular energy, and kill cells.
Top 10 Foods rich in Vitamin B3
- Tuna (Yellowfin)
- Lean Chicken Breast
- Lean Pork Chops
- Beef (Skirt Steak)
- Portabella Mushrooms
- Brown Rice
- Peanuts (Dry Roasted)
- Green Peas
- Sweet Potatoes
As you can see, the richest sources of niacin are animal-based foods but if you’re vegetarian or vegan, you still can find all the vitamin B3 you need in a wide variety of plant foods.