Antioxidant "sunscreen pills," are these too good to be true?
Heliocare, also know as the “sunscreen pills.” These have been getting a lot of attention lately and I am asked in clinic nearly daily if they work. Here’s the scoop.
Heliocare boasts to have harnessed the natural power of Polypodium leucotomos fern (native to Central and South America), which has developed its own protections against harmful free radicals in the environment. For years, the extract from this fern has been used for psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, vitiligo, etc., so it’s not new to us. It is however, new as an oral tablet that boasts UV protection. The truth of the matter is that there are very few safety and efficacy clinical trials performed on this supplement. This is a “vitamin,” and does not need FDA approval or testing. The handful of studies that tested the fern extract supplement showed that orally administered P. leucotomos extract decreases UV-mediated oxidative damage to DNA by enhancing the activity of endogenous antioxidant systems responsible for blocking the formation of reactive oxygen species. In short, it did help reduce the damaging effects of UV radiation. The key word is REDUCE. This does not prevent UV damage or protect you entirely from photo damage and subsequent life threatening skin cancers. This is to be used in addition to SPF45 or higher for complete sun protective benefits. It is NOT recommended to replace sunscreen, only work synergistically with it to enhance your protection.
Moral of the story, it seems safe so far, with some UV protective benefits, but keep using your SPF45 or higher daily! No magic pill here folks!