Importance of Melanin
The importance of melanin can be understood by the fact that it is produced in the human body by the cells called melanocytes which are located just below the skin. The production of melanin is initiated when a hormone, known as Melanocyte stimulating hormone, stimulates the cell to produce it.
The skin colour is determined by the amount of melanin present in the outer layer of the skin. If there is less melanin, the skin will appear white, if there is more melanin it will appear dark. Melanin serves many purposes but its main role may be that of protection against ultraviolet radiation (UV) from sunlight because melanin absorbs UV rays. Melanin acts as a natural sunblock and may even prevent cancerous cells from forming.
Melanin also demonstrates antioxidant properties by scavenging for reactive oxygen species produced via UV light damage. Without intervention from protective compounds like antioxidants, these ROS (reactive oxygen species) contribute to oxidative stress, which causes significant cellular damage.
Melanin deficiency can lead to two conditions:
- Vitiligo: It is an autoimmune condition that occurs when the body is unable to produce enough melanocytes. This causes a lack of pigment that can appear as white patches on the skin and hair.
- Albinism: It is a rare genetic condition that can occur if there is a deficiency of melanin in the body. This may happen because of a reduced number of melanocytes or reduced melanin production from melanosomes. There are various types of albinism, but most cause a moderate to severe lack of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes.
Top 5 Best Foods to Increase Melanin Production
Melanin is the primary determinant of skin colour and is produced by specialized cells called melanocytes. Melanin production takes place in specialized structures called melanosomes. There are two types of melanin: eumelanin and pheomelanin. Eumelanin (which produces a brown to black colour) is more abundant in adult human beings, while pheomelanin (which produces a yellow to red colour) is more abundant in children.
Analyzing many studies, we got to know that food rich in pigment such as green leafy vegetables and fruits such as oranges can increase your skin's melanin content and thus help to protect it from the sun's rays.
Here are 5 foods rich in melanin:
- Red Cabbage: Rich in Vitamin C, red cabbage is a powerful antioxidant that can optimize collagen and melanin production. Thus, helping in protecting the skin cells from harmful free radicals caused by exposure to sun rays. A serving of red cabbage contains sulfur which helps produce the protein keratin, which provides strength and structure to the hair, nails and skin.
- Avocado: Nowadays, many skincare products use avocado oil as a soothing moisturizer that can penetrate the skin easily to hydrate patchy areas and reduce wrinkles. Avocados are rich sources of nutrients like vitamin e, which carries anti-inflammatory properties to rejuvenate the skin and reduce oxidative damage. Half an avocado has 2 mg of vitamin e. Avocados also carry lutein, which aids in skin elasticity.
- Dark Chocolate: Rich in vitamins, dark chocolate for skin is a superfood with great overall health benefits. It blocks the breakdown of collagen and is known to replace lost moisture in the skin. Dark chocolate is rich in nourishing antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that relieve dry skin and itchiness. The flavonols found in dark chocolate also help in protecting the skin against sun damage.
- Kale: Loaded with anti-inflammatory properties like vitamin K, kale helps in keeping the skin healthy and glowing. These powerful leafy green vegetables also have anti-ageing agents like magnesium to help even out skin tone. Raw kale is packed with copper, which is an essential mineral to stabilize skin proteins and revitalize the synthesis of melanin.
- Carrots: Filled with beta-carotene, carrots are a great source of provitamin that can improve vision and a healthy immune system. Beta-carotene is a plant pigment that gives fruits and vegetables their rich green, orange and red colour. Many researchers believe that Vitamin A in carrots can lead to increased melanin production.
As we know, melanin is the pigment that gives colour to the skin and hair. Melanin production can be increased by eating foods rich in vitamin C and iron. Vitamin C increases melanin production and makes the skin healthy. Vitamin C is found in oranges, kiwis, green bell peppers, broccoli and mangoes.
The best source of iron is meat, including fish, beef, chicken and lamb. If you’re a vegetarian or a vegan, eat more vegetables and beans. You can also drink tea with lemon slices – it contains vitamin C – and herbal teas, such as chamomile tea, which relaxes you.