Study Links Vitamin Deficiency to Sunscreen Use
A clinical review published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association suggests nearly 1 billion people worldwide have low levels of vitamin D due to sunscreen use that prevents adequate exposure to sunlight. The study also shows that up to 95 percent of adults with dark skin have vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency.
Vitamin D, which acts as a hormone in the body, is produced when the skin is exposed to the rays of the sun. Receptors for vitamin D are found in almost every human cell and it plays an important role in several important body functions. Chronic conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, Crohn’s disease, and celiac disease impair the body’s ability to absorb vitamin D from food sources like milk, breakfast cereals, and other fortified foods, as well as from supplements.
Sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher—recommended to reduce the risk of sun damage and skin cancer—decreases vitamin D production by about 99 percent. Healthy vitamin D levels can be maintained by spending as little as five minutes—for people with light skin—to a half hour—for people with dark skin—in the midday sun twice per week, without sunscreen.
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