Melanin is the pigment that gives skin, hair and eyes their colour,and is much more concentrated in these tissues in populations that inhabit areas nearer the equator. It also holds an important role in the body and protects cells from overexposure and damage by UV rays.
Melanin is a pigment that is produced by cells known as melanocytes in the skin of most animals, including humans. This pigment comes in different shades, depending on the genetic makeup of the individual. Melanin comes in two basic forms and can range from yellowish-red to dark brown.
Eumelanin is the most common form of melanin and is brownish in colour. The other basic form is called pheomelanin, which produces reddish-brown color that is often associated with freckles and red hair. The production of melanin in the individual is determined by several factors:
However, if melanin provides such a crucial role in the protection of tissues in the body then why doesn’t everyone possess high concentrations of it in their skin? Well, the amount of UVA and UVB reaching the surface of the earth diminishes the further away from the equator meaning it isn't equally distributed.
How to increase melanin in your body
Nutrients could be the key to increasing melanin naturally in skin. Here are a few vitamins that may help your body produce more melanin.
Antioxidants show the strongest potential for increasing melanin production.
Micronutrients like flavonoids or polyphenols, which come from the plants we eat, act as powerful antioxidants and may affect melanin production. Some of them increase melanin, while others may help reduce it.
Eat more antioxidant-rich foods such as dark leafy greens, dark berries, dark chocolate, and colourful vegetables to get more antioxidants. Taking vitamin and mineral supplements may also help.
Studies suggest vitamin A is important to melanin production and is essential to having healthy skin. You get vitamin A from the food you eat, especially vegetables that contain beta carotene, such as carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and peas.
You can increase vitamin A levels by eating more vitamin A-rich foods like orange vegetables (carrots, squash, sweet potatoes), fish, and meat. Taking a vitamin A supplement can also help.
Vitamin E is an important vitamin for skin health. It’s also an antioxidant and could possibly boost melanin levels.
While there are no studies proving a direct link between vitamin E and more melanin, some studies do show vitamin E may help protect skin against sun damage.
You can get more vitamin E by taking a supplement or by eating more vitamin E-rich foods like vegetables, grains, seeds, and nuts.
Like vitamins A and E, vitamin C is an antioxidant. It may also have some impact on melanin production and skin protection.
Eating vitamin- C rich foods like citrus, berries, and leafy green vegetables may optimise melanin production. Taking a vitamin C supplement may help as well.