Melanin is important to your skin's health. This compound is a pigment that protects your skin from the harmful effects of sunlight. Melanin production can increase over time to darken the skin and better protect you from sun exposure. But in order to do this, you need to be eating the right foods that provide your body with nutrients used to make melanin.
Animal products can feature multiple nutrients that assist in melanin production. One important mineral is copper, which is needed in very small amounts but is still considered a nutrient essential to the body. Copper helps produce melanin as well as elastin, a protein that gives your skin its elasticity. Copper can be found in oysters, organ meats -- particularly the liver -- and shellfish, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Other animal products containing nutrients lending themselves to melanin production include chicken, turkey and fish, as well as dairy products like cheese and milk.
Soy and Seeds
Soy is beneficial to your body's melanin production thanks to a nutrient called tyrosine. This is an amino acid that is used to build proteins in your body. It can be found in many other natural sources of protein, particularly soy products. You can also find tyrosine in pumpkin seeds, lima beans and sesame seeds.
Many other foods contain small amounts of tyrosine, copper or other nutrients that can help your body's melanin production. Consider eating nuts and legumes, including almonds, peanuts and dried beans. Dark leafy vegetables can be helpful, as can avocados, bananas, whole grain products and chocolate.
Although you can get the nutrients needed to assist melanin production through natural dietary sources, it may also be worth your time to take nutritional supplements, particularly if you are suffering from a deficiency or have a restricted diet that prevents you from getting the necessary nutrients. Talk to your doctor before taking these supplements to confirm that they are safe for you to use and won't interact poorly with other medications or conditions.