Dunaliella salina: the new super-carotenoid for eczema and healthy skin

Beta-carotene is the powerful antioxidant responsible for the orange colour in carrots and sweet potatoes. It's important for healthy skin and eyes, and has the special job of converting into vitamin A in the body. However, the new super-carotenoid for healthy skin comes from the ocean, not carrots ...

 

Five surprising facts about beta carotene:

  1. Beta-carotene is a red orange pigment found in plants and when it is consumed daily it can help protect damaged skin, such as eczema, from UV radiation from sunlight.
  2. It is a safe form of vitamin A, which converts to vitamin A in the liver. 
  3. Natural beta-carotene boosts skin hydration so it can decrease skin dryness and flaking.
  4. Beta-carotene has a potent anti-cancer effect, helping to protect your delicate skin from UV damage - but you have to eat beta-carotene daily for the effects to work!
  5. While cooking can usually diminish vitamin strength, the opposite is true for beta-carotene. Cooking and adding fats to your beta-carotene rich meal helps to release carotenoids in the food and increase absorption.

What is Dunaliella salina and why is it so great for skin health?

Dunaliella salina is natural form of beta-carotene derived from the ocean and it's a natural microalgae. To survive in a salty environment, Dunaliella salina makes high concentrations of beta-carotene and other carotenoids to protect against the intense UV light.

In a similar way, the antioxidant activity of beta-carotene from Dunaliella salina, when consumed on a daily basis, provides mild sun protection for human skin.

For people with sun-sensitive skin, such as eczema, psoriasis and other skin rashes, it's important to increase your intake of natural beta-carotene to help guard against sun damage. 

Dunaliella salina is more effective against cancer than normal beta-carotene

Scientists have known for a long time that beta-carotene helps to protect against cancer. However, Chinese scientists who studied an extract in Dunaliella salina called beta-CDS on human cancer cells, found it was an effective anti-cancer agent. The scientists found that the mixed carotenoids from Dunaliella salina inhibited cancer dell development by more than 55%, which was higher that the beta-carotene test-group. 

Dunaliella salina also contains superoxide dismutase (SOD), lutein, cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin which are antioxidants that can boost skin hydration and promote normal healthy skin. To maximise the absorption of these carotenoids, take the supplement with essential fatty acids. For example Skin Friend AM, which contains Dunaliella salina, taken with flaxseed oil in a non-dairy smoothie, to make an effective skin hydrating eczema treatment.

Vitamin A deficiency signs include:

  • Acne/pimples
  • Bumpy skin on backs of arms
  • Dandruff
  • Diarrhoea
  • Dry eyes
  • Eczema, psoriasis and other skin rashes
  • Frequent colds or infections
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Poor night vision
  • Scaly and dry skin

Why avoid retinol forms of vitamin A?

Vitamin A is essential for healthy eyes, hair and skin, growth and reproduction. However, not all forms of vitamin A are beneficial for dry skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Did you know the fat-soluble vitamin A (retinol) in oral supplements helps to mop up excess oil in the skin - so it's great for acne but bad for eczema and dry skin. Take regular vitamin A and you will end up with dry, flakey skin that falls off in droves!

High intake of vitamin A is associated with a significant increase in surface pH (in women) and again this is not good for eczema sufferers who need a lower, acidic pH to guard against invading bacteria.

However, beta-carotene does not have the same negative effects. Beta-carotene, the water-soluble form of vitamin A, actually increases skin hydration.

     VITAMIN A (KNOWN AS)

    SUPPLEMENT DOSAGES
    (micrograms per day)

    ECZEMA FRIENDLY FOOD SOURCES
    retinol equiv. /100g

    SUPPLEMENT SUPPLEMENTS

    RATING
    (1-5★)

    retinol, retinoic acid, retinal, and retinyl ester

    (can be toxic in high doses - avoid retinol forms if you have eczema and do not give retinol forms to children)

    AVOID SUPPLEMENT FORM
    Fine to consume in foods.  

    fish (salmon 50ug)
    chicken (45ug)
    lean lamb (34ug)

     

    retinol/retinoic acid
    ★(avoid)

    This is often in skin supplements but it can lead to severe dry skin and flaking skin

    Beta-carotene Boosts skin hydration

    orange-coloured vegetables*
    carrot (1550ug)
    sweet potato (960ug)
    pumpkin (466ug)
    cabbage (230ug)
    green beans (62ug)
    Cos lettuce (62ug)
    Papaya/pawpaw (151ug)

    Beta-carotene
    ★ 

    (unspecified source means it is artificial)

    Dunaliella salina (natural beta-carotene, plus other carotenoids)

    Prevents deficiencies in ages 1+; provides some sun protection;
    also contains lutein, cryptoxanthin, beta-CDS and zeaxanthin which boosts skin hydration and protects against UV light; 55% more protective against cancer proliferation than regular beta-carotene. 

    Natural sea microalgae (supplement)

    Dunaliella salina cell extract

    ★ ★ ★ 

    found in products such as:

    Skin Friend AM
     

    (taken with flaxseed oil or another type of fatty acid to increase absorption)

    *Retinol equivalent (RE) amounts shown on table 

    Vitamin A: Recommended daily intake (RDI, as retinol equivalents)

     Infants*

    Children

    Adults

    Preg/lactation

    250ug to 430ug (from breast milk or formula)

    1-3 yrs: 300ug
    4-8: 400ug
    9-13 yrs: 600ug
    14-18 yrs: 700ug (retinol)

    Women: 700ug
    Men: 900ug of vitamin A in retinol form or... 2000ug beta-carotene

    800ug
    beta-carotene is safe to take while pregnant but avoid retinol forms of vit. A

    1ug of retinol = 6 ug of beta-carotene and 12 ug of other pro-vtiamin A carotenoids

    *Infants under the age of one do not adequately convert beta-carotene into retinol so to avoid deficiency infants need dietary vitamin A from breastmilk, infant formula and/or freshly ground meats when on solids.

    Verdict

    Dunaliella salina is a safe and potent source of natural beta-carotene and suitable for all types of skin disorders and inflammation. It can be used to boost your protection against UV damage and increase skin hydration and repair. 

     

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    References

    El-Baky, H.A., El-Baz, F.K. and El-Baroty, G.S., 2004. Production of antioxidant by the green alga Dunaliella salina. Int. J. Agric. Biol, 6(1), pp.1560-8530.

    Xue, L.X., 1993. [Experimental study on extract of Dunaliella salina in preventing NSAR-induced cancer of proventriculus in mice]. Zhonghua yu fang yi xue za zhi [Chinese journal of preventive medicine], 27(6), pp.350-353.


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