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Eat your way to a natural tan

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There are increasing concerns that chemicals used in fake tans can damage skin and caused skin reactions, especially to sensitive skin sufferers. But new research has found that kiwi fruit can give skin a natural tan.

The research, carried out at the Universityof St Andrews in Scotland, found that after six weeks of people eating a diet that included three portions of kiwi fruits and certain other vegetables a day, skin colour was perceived by a panel of judges to be more tanned and with a more radiant glow.

The nutrient in kiwis and certain other fruits and vegetables that is responsible for causing a tanned effect on skin are called carotenoids.

[quote]Carotenoids are also present in human skin and when they are eaten in daily portions of vegetables and fruits the red and yellow tones in the skin are enhanced, giving the appearance of a light tan. [/quote]

Vegetables that are high in tan-enhancing carotenoids include kiwis, red peppers, carrots, kale, spinach, cabbage, red lettuce, pumpkin, sweet potatoes and squash.

Another way to increase your intake of carotenoids for a natural tan is to take carotenoid supplements. However  one problem with these types of pills is that the pigment often does not match the natural skin pigment of the person taking them, where as with fruits and vegetables high in carotenoids, the colour of the tan is more matched to the person’s skin tone.

[quote]In addition to carotenoids, there are also some fruits and vegetables that increase the melanin levels in skin, which can also increase the appearance of a tan.[/quote]

Foods that are high in vitamin A can increase the skin’s production of melanin., these include peas, broccoli, beetroot, peaches, mangos, apples, tomato juice and lemons.

Naturally occurring amino acids that may also help the tanning process are L-tyrosine and L-cysteine as they also aide in melanin production. These amino acids are found in red pepper, garlic, onions, broccoli and brussel sprouts.  They are also found in soft cheeses, yoghurt, oats, milk and eggs.

It is also easy to buy food supplements that contain recommended daily doses of both L-tyrosine and L-cysteine to help aide a natural tan effect to skin. Both these amino acids also help protect the skin from UB damage from the sun, as does the regular consumption of strawberries and raspberries.

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