I often remind women to protect themselves from the sun, but some patients have asked about the benefits of UV radiation. Should we be avoiding it or not? This is a dilemma that the American Academy of Dermatology has thoroughly researched, and their conclusions are worth noting.
Years of research have led to the following findings:
- Skin cancer is the leading cause of death in the US, and overexposure to UV radiation is a major contributor to this.
- The World Health Organization classifies UV radiation from the sun and tanning beds as carcinogens. UV radiation also increases the risk of cataracts and weakens the immune system. However, there is no research indicating a safe amount of UV radiation that can increase vitamin D levels without increasing cancer risk.
- Skin cancer rates are on the rise.
- Vitamin D obtained from food sources does not increase cancer risk or accelerate skin aging. Vitamin D-rich foods or supplements are available year-round. Taking vitamin D supplements as directed is a safe and effective option.
- In addition to vitamin D, adequate intake of calcium and phosphorus is also important for bone health. Most vitamin D-fortified foods, beverages, and supplements also contain calcium and phosphorus, making them more effective than relying solely on UV radiation.
- Vitamin D obtained from food sources is no different from vitamin D produced by UV radiation.
Based on these scientifically proven findings, the American Academy of Dermatology recommends against using UV radiation as a source of vitamin D. How much vitamin D do we need each day? Adults are recommended to consume 600 international units (IU) of vitamin D per day, a dose that takes into account no UV radiation exposure. Obtaining vitamin D from food sources, including naturally vitamin D-rich foods, fortified foods and beverages, and vitamin supplements, combined with adequate protection from UV radiation, is a more scientifically sound and healthy option.
So, in the future, don’t sunbathe for the purpose of increasing vitamin D levels.