Nutrition Supplement: Vitamins, Minerals and More

| May/June 1998

  • spirulina cultivation ponds at Earthrise Farms in California.

  • Spirulina (Arthrospira platensis, shown in the round-shaped photos here)is a spiral-shaped, blue-green algae


AHAs and sun don’t mix

With the coming of warmer months, more people expose at least a little skin to the sun. Although sunscreen is always important, it is especially so for those using skin-care products containing alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), according to a recent study. Derived from fruit, sugar, or milk, alpha hydroxy acids are used in many skin-care products to smooth fine lines and improve skin texture by exfoliating old cells.

The study, conducted by the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association and sponsored by the cosmetic industry, indicates that AHAs may make skin more sensitive to the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which can cause skin cancer. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing this and related research and recommends that people who use AHAs apply sunscreen even if their product already contains sunscreen. People are also advised to apply sunscreen even if they are in the sun during a day when they did not use AHAs.

According to the FDA, the most frequently used AHAs in cosmetics are glycolic acid and lactic acid. Others include malic acid, citric acid, mixed fruit acid, triple fruit acid, and sugarcane extract.

For more information and a complete list of AHAs used in cosmetics, visit the FDA’s Web site at or contact the Cosmetic ­Ingredient Review’s Web site at 202-331-0651. (1)

Plant-based diets receive high marks

Now there is another reason to eat more vegetables, fruits, and grains. According to a recent report, a predominantly plant-based diet is fundamental to reducing the risk of cancer.

The report, sponsored by the American Institute for Cancer Research and the World Cancer Research Fund, agrees with the American Cancer Society’s dietary guidelines: Eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily; eat foods from plant sources such as breads, cereals, grain products, rice, pasta, or beans several times each day; and limit intake of high-fat foods, particularly from animal sources.

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