by Dr. Angelina Riopel, ND

Sun exposure is one of the primary contributors to skin damage and premature aging, close runners up are pollution and poor quality diet. September is a great time to do a skin check-in and take steps to repair sun damaged skin.

How does skin damage happen? Free radical generation occurs when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet light from sun exposure.   Free radicals stimulate inflammation and deplete intracellular anti-oxidants, such as vitamin C. This process leads to oxidative damage of cellular proteins, such as collagen and lipids, contributing to skin damage and pre-mature aging.

The most effective way to address skin health and healing is from the inside, both from a preventative and recovery perspective. Along with a nutrient-rich diet and limiting sun exposure, the following nutrients will help prevent skin damage and help support recovery.

Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate (EGCG)

EGCG is a polyphenol and one of the potent anti-oxidants found in green tea. Research has found that EGCG is not only protects the skin from sun damage and sunburns (1) but also repairs the DNA of damaged skin. A study conducted by the Medical College of Georgia found that dying skin cells exposed to EGCG can actually be reactivated. (2)

Sources: Green tea or taken as a supplement

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

The active components are EPA/DHA, which are powerful anti-inflammatory agents are preventative to both sun damage and natural signs of aging.   Research has found that EPA specifically is protective against oxidative stress, and sunburn sensitivity was diminished thus preventing sun damage to the skin (3)

Sources:   Omega 3 essential fatty acids are found in high amounts in fish and fish oil, although flax seed, chia and hempseed do contain smaller amounts.   Caution: choose a quality fish oil from a reputable company that guarantees its product is free of heavy metals.

Collagen Hydrolysate

Collagen is a protein and primary building block in the dermis, which is sub-surface layer of the skin. The dermis is responsible for the elasticity and flexability of the skin. Its breakdown is an important factor contributing to the skins primary signs of aging; dehydration, wrinkle formation and thinning and is due to aging and sun exposure.

Source: Collagen hydolysate as a powdered supplement, Great Lakes Gelatin produces a clean, easily absorbed supplement. Also bone broth soup is a great source of collagen (link to recipe)

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an important anti-oxidant and is found in high concentrations in the skins dermis layer, helping the production and stabilization of collagen. Vitamin C may have the ability to both prevent and repair sun damage. Aging, sun exposure and pollution deplete skin stores of vitamin C.


May be used topically although, one study found that individuals that have a high dietary intake of vitamin C found little to not effect using topical administration of Vitamin C.




  1. Katiyar SK. Skin photoprotection by green tea: antioxidant and immunomodulatory effects. Curr Drug Targets Immune Endocr Metabol Disord. 2003. Sep;3(3):234-42.
  2. Medical College Of Georgia. “Green Tea Linked To Skin Cell Rejuvenation.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 April 2003. <>.)
  3. Rhodes LE, Shahbakhti H, Azurdia RM, Moison RM, Steenwinkel MJ, Homburg MI, Dean MP, McArdle F, Beijersbergen van Henegouwen GM, Epe B, Vink AA (2003) Effect of eicosapentaenoic acid, an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, on UVR-related cancer risk in humans. An assessment of early genotoxic markers. Carcinogenesis 24:919-925.