Sunflower oil is an excellent source for beta-carotene, a richly pigmented, fat-soluble compound found in certain fruits, vegetables, grains and oils. Beta-carotene can be converted into vitamin A, and this compound possesses many antioxidant properties that can be beneficial to the appearance and health of your skin. Understand the potential side effects of beta-carotene and check with your physician before adding sunflower oil to your diet.
Sunflower oil is produced from the seeds of the sunflower plant. It contains vitamin A, which is essential for many of your body's functions, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. Beta-carotene can be produced synthetically from sunflower oil and converted into retinol, which is an ingredient in many anti-aging skin care products, according to the Mayo Clinic. The oil can also be taken in the form of a supplement, as well as purchased in its pure oil form for cooking and topical application. Consult a doctor about the recommended dosage for your age and skin-care needs.
Consuming high doses of beta-carotene can make your skin less sensitive to the sun, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. This is particularly helpful for those with the genetic condition erythropoietic protoporphyria, which causes heightened sun sensitivity. The antioxidants in beta-carotene help to neutralize free radicals that can penetrate your skin and lead to sunburn and other types of sun damage, including skin cancer. However, do not ingest or apply high doses of sunflower oil unless you are under the supervision of a doctor.
The antioxidant properties in sunflower oil can help prevent premature signs of aging. According to Aging Skin Net, exposure to free radicals and sunlight increases the rate at which your skin ages, and it may even cause wrinkles and fine lines to pop up early. The antioxidants found in sunflower oil, along with daily sunscreen, can help reduce your risk of developing premature signs of aging.
Some people may experience a yellowing of the skin while consuming sunflower oil, says the University of Maryland Medical Center, but this typically subsides. Seek medical attention if your discoloration persists or if you notice any other side effects while taking sunflower oil. People who are sensitive or allergic to beta-carotene should avoid sunflower oil or any other form of beta-carotene supplements or topical oils, says the Mayo Clinic.
High doses of vitamin A when taken in the form of a supplement can be toxic. Ask your doctor about dosing before you begin consuming sunflower oil in its supplement form. Beta-carotene can also interact with certain medications, such as those used to lower cholesterol, and smokers who consume excess beta-carotene put themselves at risk for developing cardiovascular conditions and lung cancer, says the Mayo Clinic.