We all know that people differ in color from skin, eyes and hair, but do not always think about why this happens. But this is melanin. What it is? Pigment of black or dark brown color, which is present in some cells, located both in the epidermis and in the iris of the eye. In some cases, its number is determined by the genotype, in others - by the environmental conditions.

Melanin - what is it and why is it needed?

The fact that the production of melanin occurs under the influence of sunlight - the skin is protected from ultraviolet light, there is a tan. The more time a person spends on the sun, the darker becomes his skin - this is the usual defensive reaction of the body. But almost everyone knows that different people get tanned worse or better, someone just gets burned. As with the color of the eyes, this is determined by the genotype. In the skin of such people just a little melanin, and the body also produces an insufficient amount of it, so you have to use sunscreen.

This function of melanin is extremely important, and although a huge number of cases of skin cancer are recorded every year in the world, without this pigment there would be even more. To take at least the African continent - without the powerful photo-protection inherent in local residents, it would be simply impossible to survive. So it is this substance that is responsible for the color of the skin and protects it from the harmful effects of sunlight.

Thus, it is easy to distinguish people with high levels of melanin from others - they easily sunbathe, and the shade of their skin is rarely very light, usually it is olive or even darker. There is also a state where the body can not in sufficient quantities or even completely produce melanin. What does this mean and how does it manifest itself? In this case, they talk about albinism - the appearance of such people may seem at first sight very strange. People-albinos can be met infrequently, but in the animal world it is not such a rarity, especially among rodents. Sometimes in the skin this pigment is destroyed for one reason or another - then it's about vitiligo.

Not only is it human to develop melanin in its cells in response to sunlight. What does it mean? Do mushrooms, animals and plants also produce it? Yes, they also need a photoprotection, and this pigment perfectly shields the ultraviolet.

In addition to its main function, melanin in the body plays the role of a neurotransmitter, and also participates in the restoration and protection of DNA - the genetic information of each individual organism. In addition, it is a powerful antioxidant, an important role of this substance has long been recognized in medicine. It is this pigment that is responsible for the formation of freckles - the colored cells seem to be assembled into groups, and it looks like small specks on the skin, familiar to everyone.

People with pale skin often want their cells to normally produce melanin. What is it? Can this be done? Directly - no, but you can increase the consumption of foods with vitamin A, which is also involved in the production of this pigment, and also gives the skin a golden hue. Melanin has already learned how to extract from cells, and synthesize with the amino acid tyrosine. It is used in medicines for the treatment of vitiligo, as well as photodermatitis, solar eczema, etc. It is also contained in cosmetics for protection from ultraviolet and used after sunburn. Neglect the protection of the skin can not in any case, because it is fraught with not only burns, but also much more serious problems.