Skin is a major safeguard tissue in humans. Because biological barrier function is deteriorated by several kinds of stresses including exposure to ultra-violet (UV) rays, the protection and treatment of skin conditions by dietary supplements are important. We therefore evaluated the effects of dietary supplementation with an algal food-derived antioxidant, astaxanthin, on UV-induced skin deterioration. Twenty-three healthy Japanese participants were recruited to a 10-week double-blind placebo-controlled study. They were assigned to the astaxanthin group supplemented with a capsule containing 4 mg of astaxanthin or the placebo group. To assess the protective role of astaxanthin for UV-induced skin deterioration, we determined the minimal erythema dose (MED) and analyzed UV-induced changes of moisture and transepidermal water loss (TEWL) at baseline and after 9 weeks of supplementation. Subjective skin conditions were assessed by the visual analog scale. The astaxanthin group showed increased MED compared with placebo. In addition, the astaxanthin group had a reduced loss of skin moisture in the irradiated area compared with placebo. Subjective skin conditions for “improvement of rough skin” and “texture” in non-irradiated areas were significantly improved by astaxanthin. Astaxanthin seems protective against UV-induced skin deterioration and helps maintain healthy skin in healthy people.
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