People who took beta-carotene were protected from sunburn by a sun-protection factor of up to four (SPF4). Researchers reviewed seven studies covering 135 participants who took beta-carotene from three to 24 weeks with doses of 10 mg (equivalent to 17,000 IU of vitamin A) per day to 180 mg (equivalent to 300,000 IU of vitamin A) per day. Doctors said the dose did not matter as much as did the duration of taking beta-carotene, which began to protect the skin after 10 weeks and increased with each additional month. The scientists noted that beta-carotene protects the whole body constantly at the cellular level and can complement but not replace topical sunscreens. Beta-carotene can protect areas of skin missed by sunscreen and provides a base of UVB protection. Doctors believe that beta-carotene reduces oxidative stress from UVB rays.
Reference: Photochemistry and Photobiology; 2008, Vol. 84, No. 2, 284-8.