Is Heliocare helpful for added sun protection?

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Several dermatologists have recommended Heliocare for added sun protection. What is your opinion on Heliocare? Thanks for all you do! Bonnie

This is a tough one because since Heliocare is sold as a supplement, it is not regulated by the FDA.  That means that side effects from it’s use may go undetected for some time.  I cannot find any convincing safety data on this product.  It is an extract made from a fern polypodium leucotomos and is taken orally.  I’m always wary of new drugs (and herbs & plants are drugs), when there isn’t a track record of safety.

The company website says Heliocare is an all natural oral antioxidant which helps protect against UV ray damage and aging. However, the fine print also states that “it is not a sunscreen and should be used in addition to topical skin protection.”

Antioxidants are likely to be more effective if they are applied directly to the skin.  There was a 2008 study by Murray, et al showing that a topical form of the antioxidants vitamins C and E helped prevent both visible sunburn and the type of DNA damage that can raise the risk of skin cancer.  Why not just use a product like the SkinCeuticals C & E Ferrulic which contains 3 antioxidants directly on your skin under your sunscreen?  This is what I do!

If you are exposing you whole body, you might consider it or you could just get a rash guard like the surfers use and use a little more sunscreen on exposed areas.     Dr. I