The debate about vitamin D and sun exposure has been ongoing and the Canadian Dermatology Association (CDA) hopes to clear up some of the confusion.
“Canadians are getting a lot of mixed messages when it comes to vitamin D and some information can be quite misleading,” says Dr. Ian Landells, President of the Canadian Dermatology Association. “These include statements from the tanning industry that tanning beds are a safe way to produce vitamin D.”
The CDA, along with Health Canada and the World Health Organization, strongly recommend tanning beds not be used as a means to produce vitamin D, as it greatly increases a person’s risk of developing skin cancer.
Not only are tanning beds dangerous but they are an inefficient way to produce vitamin D because they emit mainly UVA rays, while it is UVB rays that stimulate the production of vitamin D in the skin. The regular use of tanning beds can lead to the development of skin cancer as well as premature photoaging. Skin cancer can also result in possible disfigurement from treatment and premature death if a melanoma is not detected and treated early.
Alternative methods to safely acquire vitamin D include choosing a diet with foods rich in vitamin D or by simply taking a vitamin supplement.
The Institute of Medicine (IOM), an independent, non-profit organization, released its Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) for Vitamin D and Calcium in November 2010, which took into account almost 1,000 published studies as well as testimony from scientists and stakeholders. The IOM acknowledges the sun’s involvement in the production of vitamin D in the skin, though made its DRI recommendations of 400 to 600 IUs of vitamin D based on the needs of those people who minimize their sun exposure.
Most Canadians receive enough sun exposure during their day-to-day activities in the spring through the fall to maintain adequate levels of vitamin D. For the long Canadian winters, the IOM also echoes the CDA’s position that those who are concerned about their vitamin D levels should opt for a supplement or a change in diet.
Source: CANADIAN DERMATOLOGY ASSOCIATION