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Chemist Forces Children to Eat Sunscreen

By Shane Ellison

My wife and I are unconventional parents. We didn't vaccinate our children. They don't go to public school. We don't let them drink their weight in soda. And we make them eat their sunscreen. Before you report me to Child Protective Services, let me assure you that I'm not talking about the conventional, synthetic sun block that is loaded with poisons. I m talking about edible sun block in the form of carotenoids.

Carotenoids are members of a family of nutrients that protect plants and animals from excess sunshine. Just like melanin, they are colorful molecules that reflect UV rays. About 700 different types of carotenoids have been identified. Each of the pigments functions as Mother Nature's sunblock. When humans ingest carotenoids, they are deposited into the skin to prevent sunburn and (ultimately) oxidative stress, which can lead to cancer.

Leading sources of carotenoids are eggs, spirulina, chlorella, dark-green leafy vegetables (kale, collards, and spinach), and yellow-orange fruits and vegetables (apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, and squash). The recommended daily intake of carotenoids is 100 to 200 grams per day of these foods.

The most potent carotenoid is a red pigment found in algae, salmon, trout, shrimp, and lobsters. It is known as astaxanthin. The algae are normally green. But when subjected to sunshine, they produce the red pigment naturally. Once ingested, astaxanthin is 1,000 times more effective at protecting skin from UV damage than other carotenoids.

Edible sunblock is your first line of defense against sunburn, cancer, and prematurely aging skin. So make sure you pack plenty of carotenoids in your kids' lunchboxes this summer.

Copyright © 2008 The Peoples Chemist.com
Shane Ellison's entire career has been dedicated to the study of molecules; how they give life and how they take from it. He was a two-time recipient of the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Grant for his research in biochemistry and physiology. He is a bestselling author, holds a master's degree in organic chemistry and has first-hand experience in drug design.

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