What Is the Connection between Vitamin D and Sunscreen?

Eugene P.

Vitamin D is an important part of the functioning of the body and aids in the prevention of disease. While it can be absorbed from certain foods, the primary source for people is usually the sun. With the concerns about skin cancer and the aging effects of tanning, though, more people are using sunscreen. Sunscreen that is applied to the skin and reapplied as directed can actually hinder the body from creating vitamin D. The misapplication of sunscreen combined with dietary intake of vitamin D provides most people with the amount needed to remain healthy.

Sunscreen can prevent some vitamin D production facilitated by the sun.
Sunscreen can prevent some vitamin D production facilitated by the sun.

Even though sunscreen can cause problems with the production of vitamin D, the sunscreen would need to be applied to all exposed areas of skin to completely block vitamin D production. It also would need to be reapplied regularly, as instructed on the packaging. Most people do not do this the entire time they are in the sun, meaning the body will still make vitamin D and sunscreen will not completely stop it. The results of some research involving vitamin D and sunscreen application in children, however, show they are producing far less. This is partially attributed to children being out of direct sunlight for longer periods of the day than their parents.

Sunlight is everywhere, so Vitamin D production would only be blocked if a person's entire body was covered in sunscreen.
Sunlight is everywhere, so Vitamin D production would only be blocked if a person's entire body was covered in sunscreen.

Spending significant amounts of time in the sun without protection from its rays is discouraged by the medical community, even though doing so might increase the amount of vitamin D in the body. New products, ultraviolet blocking lotions containing vitamin D, have emerged as a result of the concern about vitamin D and sunscreen. Combined with a diet that includes vitamin D-rich foods, such as salmon and egg yolks, enough is absorbed by the body to stave off some associated diseases. On average, a person can get enough vitamin D into his body during just 5 to 30 minutes of exposure to the sun each day. Supplements also can help to keep the level of vitamin D up.

Vitamin D is produced whenever the skin is exposed to UV rays, which tanning beds produce.
Vitamin D is produced whenever the skin is exposed to UV rays, which tanning beds produce.

Vitamin D and sunscreen can become a problem that leads to health issues because of a deficiency of the vitamin in the body. This deficiency can cause bone degeneration, especially in children. It also can complicate certain forms of diabetes. There is some evidence that vitamin D helps to raise resistance to high blood pressure and cancer in women.

There are some people who advocate the use of tanning beds as a source of vitamin D. While a tanning bed will produce ultraviolet light and trigger production of the vitamin, it also has many of the detrimental effects of sun exposure. These can include skin cancer and visible premature aging.

Researchers estimate that as little as five minutes in the sun each day can help the body produce an adequate amount of vitamin D.
Researchers estimate that as little as five minutes in the sun each day can help the body produce an adequate amount of vitamin D.

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