Role of Diet, Nutrition and Supplements in Sun Protection

Posted By Dr Stephen Lai  
10:35 AM

Role of Diet, Nutrition and Supplements in Sun protection

The Slip, Slop, Slap Slogan has become institutionalised as the core message of Cancer Council’s SunSmart Program. The campaign is widely credited as playing a key role in the dramatic shift in sun protection attitudes and behaviour over the past two decades. In 2007, the slogan was updated to Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek, Slide to reflect the importance of seeking shade and sliding on wraparound sunglasses to prevent sun damage

However, the role of diet, nutrition and supplements in sun protection is never mentioned and many patients are not aware of its importance because this is not educated to them by their doctors. As skin cancer doctors, we should educate patients about the roles of diet and nutrition in sun protection and inform them the evidence-based information about the different types of supplements and their food sources.

Mediterranean diet foods that possess UV radiation protective qualities include:


  • Fish (steamed or grilled)
  • Poultry
  • Low-fat dairy
  • Complex carbohydrates (legumes and grains)
  • Antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, and low amounts of red wine
  • Olive oil
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Various herbs like garlic, oregano, rosemary, and thyme



The following health guide is a very useful resource for patients to understand the Mediterranean anti-inflammatory diet:

The types of supplements that may provide sun protection and their food sources are as follow:


  • Carotenoids
  • Astaxanthin
  • Lycopene




  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin C & E
  • Niacinamide




  • Botanicals
  • Polypodium leucotomos
  • Camellia sinensis (Green Tea)
  • Punica granatum (Pomegranate)


Table of Supplements and their Food sources:

Type of supplement


Doses studied

Food sources



2mg, 4mg, 6mg, 8mg, 12mg

Salmon, trout, crab, lobster, and shrimp


5mg, 7mg, 15mg, 16mg, 40mg

Tomatoes, red carrots, watermelons, grapefruits, and papayas


Vitamin E & C combo

3g Vit C + 2g Vit E


2g Vit C + 500 IU Vit E (twice daily)


2g Vit C + 1000IU Vit E

Vit C: bell peppers, oranges, strawberries, grapefruit, broccoli, papaya, sweet potato, cantaloupe, and kiwis


Vit E: almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and soybean oil


500mg once daily


500mg three times daily

Legumes, nuts, grains, mushrooms, chicken, pork, beef, and fish


Polypodium leucotomos



240mg 3x a day one day prior to sun exposure and an additional dose of 360mg 3 hrs before sun exposure (total oral dose of 1080 mg)


960mg/day for 1 month then 480mg/day for 5 months


240mg three times a day


Camellia sinensis (Green tea)

450mg 3x/day with 25mg Vit C 2x/day


1L of green tea a day (about 1402mg of catechins, 100mg of epicatechin, 980 mg EGCG and 238mg of EGC)

Green tea

Punica granatum (pomegranate)

1,000mg pomegranate extract (containing: 100mg punicalagin & 44mg ellagic acid)


240ml pomegranate juice (containing: 100mg punicalagin & 23mg ellagic acid)


100mg & 200mg (ellagic acid)

Food sources of ellagic acid: pomegranates, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries