The Beauty Bar: Vitamin A's Sun-Saving Power

By Lindsey Galloway

New research shows it might be time to toss a bottle of vitamin A into your beach bag along with the sunscreen. In a recent study, patients taking 50,000 IU of vitamin A a day for a year saw an 80 percent improvement in previously sun-damaged skin. Some scientists believe this occurred because UVA and UVB light attacks the vitamin A naturally present on the skin’s surface. Many studies on vitamin A suggest that when taken in high enough amounts, it can prevent and even reverse skin cancer.

Dose: Up to 10,000 IU daily in supplement form. Vitamin A is present in foods in much smaller amounts (half a cantaloupe contains about 1,500 IU of usable vitamin A).

Precautions: The high doses used in the study didn’t appear to have negative effects on patients’ health, but taking much more than 10,000 IU daily could cause nausea, headache, and joint pain. Also, be sure to look for vitamin A in beta-carotene form; steer clear of A palmitate, which may cause cancer.