Can I Really Get Vitamin D from a Tanning Bed?

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  • Written By: B. Koch
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 19 December 2018
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Obtaining vitamin D from a tanning bed is possible, as tanning beds emit ultraviolet (UV) light like the sun. UV light promotes the body’s own synthesis of this vitamin. Vitamin D is important because it is involved in calcium utilization and bone growth. Spending too much time in tanning beds, however, can be dangerous and increase an individual’s risk of skin cancer.

While most essential vitamins and nutrients can be obtained through diet, vitamin D is unusual because it is one of the few vitamins that does not naturally occur in many foods. Some food producers fortify their products, such as milk, with vitamin D, but the vitamin is rarely found in unmodified foods. Instead, humans are able to synthesize their own vitamin D through the skin’s exposure to sunlight. Although location, skin type, and weather are all important factors in vitamin D absorption, between five and 30 minutes of sun exposure to uncovered skin per day is recommended for adequate vitamin D production.

Acquiring vitamin D from a tanning bed is possible, as vitamin D production occurs whenever the skin is exposed to UV light. The types of UV light that the sun emits include UVA, UVB, and UVC. Tanning beds produce UVA only yet are just as capable of promoting vitamin D production as the sun.


It is important for the body to obtain sufficient amounts of vitamin D, as this vitamin is involved in a number of important life processes. Vitamin D is essential for the body to access and utilize calcium. It is also involved in the creation and remodeling of bones. A link has also been found between this vitamin and mood, and it is thought that vitamin D promotes a positive mood and fights depression. Some research even indicates that vitamin D may help to prevent cancer.

Although obtaining vitamin D from a tanning bed may be beneficial, exposure to UV rays in tanning beds can also be harmful. The use of tanning beds has been linked with a much higher risk of acquiring skin cancer, especially melanoma, an especially dangerous type of skin cancer.

Methods that are safer than acquiring vitamin D from tanning are available. Supplements of vitamin D3 are expected to be as effective as the vitamin D synthesized through exposure to the sun. Some foods, like fatty fish, contain vitamin D naturally, so it is important to eat these foods. Being exposed to sunlight for short amounts of time is not harmful, and exposing bare hands and face to sunlight for about 15 minutes several times a week should allow the body to synthesize the appropriate amount of vitamin D.



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