Vitamin B3 for UV Protection


vitamin b3 for uv protection

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  • According to new research from the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, adding vitamin B3 may protect you from UV exposure.
  • Foods high in vitamin B3 include poultry, beef, eggs, nuts, legumes, and cereal grains. Additionally, many multivitamins may contain vitamin B3.
  • However, it’s still important to wear sunscreen if you’re going to be out running in the sun for extended periods of time.

    Even in the winter, dermatologists recommend applying sunscreen if you’re going to be outside for extended periods of time, like when you’re running, cycling, or doing other outdoor activities. As it turns out, adding some key vitamins to your diet may also protect you from UV exposure, a recent study suggests.

    At the recent meeting of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, researchers presented results from a study on a form of vitamin B3 that shows promise for protecting skin cells from the effects of UV light.

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    They looked at the effects of three different concentrations of the vitamin—in a form called nicotinamide—on skin cells that had been taken from participants with non-melanoma skin cancers. The cells were treated for three timeframes: 18, 24, and 48 hours, and then exposed to UVB, the type of sunlight that typically leads to sunburn with overexposure.

    Pretreatment of 24 hours before UV irradiation not only protected skin cells the most from UV-induced oxidative stress—the kind that can cause DNA damage—but also enhanced DNA repair in general in the skin cells.

    The takeaway, researchers concluded, is that foods with vitamin B3 could lower UV exposure risks, but since the protective effect is short-lived, it’s best to include those foods within 24 hours before sun exposure.

    The major caveat here is that this work was done in a lab, on isolated skin cells, and not on people, according to dietitian Bonnie Nasar, R.D.N. She told Bicycling that this fact doesn’t discount the effects, it just makes it impossible to ascertain the amount of vitamin B3 needed to offer sun protection.

    That said, the types of foods high in this vitamin have plenty of great nutritional properties, she added, so they’re worth adding into your diet anyway—UV protection would just be a bonus.

    Also known as niacin, vitamin B3 is naturally occurring in meats like chicken, turkey breast, salmon, and beef liver. Vegetarians and vegans may find it more challenging to meet the daily requirements without supplements, Nasar added, but adding more beans and grains can help. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is 16 mg NE (niacin equivalents) for men and 14 mg NE for women per day.



    “Generally speaking, a varied diet that includes poultry, beef, eggs, nuts, legumes, and cereal grains will provide adequate amounts of niacin,” she said. “Also, most multivitamins will cover your B3 needs, so if you are already taking one, check the label to be sure. As always, talk to your physician before starting any new supplements.”

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    One more pro tip: Wear your sunscreen!

    “Unfortunately, people tend to forget this in the winter in more northern climates because the sun seems ‘weaker’ to them,” Brendan Camp, M.D., dermatologist and dermopathologist at Medical Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery in New York City told Bicycling. “But it’s more than enough exposure to cause damage that leads to premature aging, sun spots, and most importantly, increases skin cancer risk.”

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