Sun Protection Pills are No Substitute for Sunscreen and Sunglasses

sunscreen pillsTaking sunscreen pills may reduce the effects ultraviolet radiation from the sun. However, swallowing these tablets may create a false sense of protection. The sun’s harmful rays cause free radical damage to the skin and eyes. Skin cancer, cataracts, and macular degeneration risk are on the rise due to among other things higher levels of sun exposure. Proper use of sunscreen and sunglasses are primary, proven methods of reducing sun damage. 

Sun Protection Pill Warning

The Food and Drug Administration has accused manufacturers of misleading advertising.1 Advanced Skin Brightening Formula, Sunsafe Rx, Solaricare, and Sunergetic were the target of a warning statement from the FDA. The concern is that using oral sun protection pills as a sole form of protection is inadequate.

How Sunscreen Pills Work

The tablets reduce some of the inflammation caused by the sun. They also cut some of the damage to the skin cells from sun exposure. The pills are in no way a sunblock because they do not provide a shield against the rays. The package might say, “Helps maintain the skin’s ability to protect against sun-related effects and aging.”

Heliocare, for example, contains polypodium leucotomos extract, an antioxidant made from a plant. Taking this supplement regularly over time was shown to reduce the damaging effects of UV radiation. These pills may be beneficial to very fair or photosensitive individuals when combined with adequate sunscreen.

How to Stay Safe

In theory, sunscreen pills could also help prevent sun damage to the eyes. Many eye diseases associated with aging are strongly linked to free radical damage. Therefore, a supplement that fights free radicals might help protect the eyes. Sunsafe Rx claims to protect both the eyes and skin. The effects of these pills are not powerful enough to totally counteract the sun’s damage.

The inconvenience of applying sunscreen pales in comparison to the risk of life-threatening skin cancer. Instructions for applying and re-applying sunscreen are on the package. Slipping on quality sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat takes moments. If you take sunscreen supplements, continue to use sunscreen and protect your eyes.

Note: Lutein, zeaxanthin, astaxanthin and mesozeaxanthin are all great antioxidants that help protect the eyes from damage due to sunlight and blue light exposure. are carotenoids that help protect the eyes from UV damage. Vitamin C and alpha-lipoic acid have also been researched.

  1. Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on new FDA actions to keep consumers safe from the harmful effects of sun exposure, and ensure the long-term safety and benefits of sunscreens. May 22, 2018