Since forever, men and women have been obsessed with getting a suntan. As a result, people will go to any lengths and spend huge amounts at spas, beaches and visiting tanning salons. The buzz about how great melanin is all over the Internet as a result of how beneficial melanin is to the skin.
For centuries, skin colour has been used to identify race and ethnicity. Throughout history, there are incidences of controversies that sparked from same skin colour issues.
Melanin is responsible for the colour diversity of the human race. Besides that, melanin acts as a protective layer on the skin, keeping the skin protected from ultraviolet ray damage. The curiousity around melanin in recent times has stemmed from its social, protective and cosmetic effects on an individual’s pigmentation.
What is Melanin?
Melanin is a versatile pigment that leaves a hue to the skin tone, iris of the eyes and hair texture of humans and animals. It is usually produced by melanocyes, present in the hair, skin, eyes and other body parts. Melanin is produced from the oxidation of an amino acid called tyrosine.
This diversity of exquisite colors that melanin comes in is majorly an offshoot of the genetic makeup of the individual.
Melanin could give off black colours, brown, yellow and even red. Depending on the colours, melanin often manifests in two forms :
Eumelanin is a dark form present in animals and humans manifesting as gray, brown or black colours.
Pheomelanin is a vibrant melanin form which manifests as red, freckles in some races and a yellowish red tinge to the feathers of birds.
Ways to Boost Your Melanin Levels
1. Get a Tan
Exposing yourself to sunlight will definitely up your melanin levels. Even though Basking in the sun can give your skin a characteristic hue, it may also increase your chances of developing skin cancer, like melanoma.
Fortunately, this could very easily be avoided by using a sunscreen. We advise that you always have a sunscreen on at all times when going out to protect your skin from any damage induced by the sun’s UV rays.
You could find artificial sources of Ultraviolet rats like tanning beds and tanning booths.
2. Incorporate Tyrosine-Rich Foods in Your Diet
Melanin is formed by the oxidation tyrosine, as we’ve mentioned before. Tyrosine contributes to the production of various neurotransmitters that help the transmission of nerve impulses.
Since tyrosine is the precursor of melanin, it would be wise to consume foods rich in tyrosine. Examples of such foods include eggs, chicken, turkey, meat, chews and whole grains. You could speak with a doctor for a dietary supplement rich in tyrosine.
3. Consume Antioxidant-Rich Foods
Antioxidants can and do boost the production of melanin. Although some studies say that antioxidants do help, more research is needed to approve its efficacy.
Micronutrients like vitamin E, flavonoids and polyphenols are potent antioxidants that play a role in melanin production.
Not all antioxidants can play a role in the production of melanin, some reduce it instead.
4. Eat Vitamin E-Rich Foods
Vitamin E has antioxidant properties that are great for the skin. No studies yet show the link between vitamin E and increases melanin production. However, a few studies say that vitamin E is effective in protecting the skin against damage induced by the sun
Examples of foods that are rich in vitamin E include nuts (almonds, cashew nuts, pine nuts), fruits (avocado, mango, grapes, kiwi and plums), vegetable oils (olive oil, sunflower oil and soy) etc.
Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A. Vitamin A can help skin cells mature and function properly.
There’s no outright scientific evidence regarding vitamin A’s melanin production ability. However, it helps heal the skin which could help in the production of melanin and strengthening the skin tissues, thereby acting as a potential agent to mask the damaging effects of the ultraviolet rays.
Carrots, red peppers, papayas, spinach, tomatoes, melons and pumpkins are foods rich in beta-carotene. Adding these to your diet will help keep your skin healthy and naturally tan your skin for long.
Note: Beta-carotene intake has been associated with the increased risk of tobacco-related cancers such as lung cancer. Hence, it is advisable not to exceed the normal dietary amount for people who are into smoking.
5. Take Tanning Pills
Tanning pills can be gotten over the counter. These pills have carotenoid, canthaxanthin as their active ingredient. Such pills will give your skin an orangish-brown colour, though this is strongly discouraged.
Caution: Always consult your doctor for approval before you intend to start a supplement, especially if you are on medication.
Canthaxanthin is FDA approved as a coloring agent in minute quantities, as its use in large quantities can cause adverse effects such as hepatitis, retinopathy, and gastrointestinal troubles.
6. Apply Commercial Sun Tanners
Sun tanners are commercial products that you will find in the market to help give your skin a characteristic colour.
Such products often give the illusion of a tan and come in creams, sprays, lotions and gels. Overtime, they eventually fade
Always opt for sun tanners that contain do hydroxychalcone which works along the lines of melanin and blocks damaging effects of the sun’s rays.
Side Effects of Excess Melanin
Excess of melanin has undesirable consequences:
Vitamin D Deficiency
Excess of melanin can lead to vitamin D deficiency. Sunlight triggers production of vitamin D as it converts the precursor to its active form. People who have excess melanin are more susceptible to vitamin D deficiency because the melanin ends up shielding the absorption of sunlight which is required to produce vitamin D. This could eventually lead to other conditions like rickets and osteoporosis.
Vitamin D plays an important role in the absorption of phosphorus and calcium which is important for maintaining the skeletal and bone structure of the body. It’s important to keep a check on your vitamin D levels when you’re tanning.
When you’ve been exposed to so much sun, your melanin levels are boosted and you may experience hyperpigmentation, leading to dark spots, age spots and melasma.