Posted on May 24, 2019, 2 p.m.
As we learn more about the importance of vitamin D levels in the development of various disease the warmer weather brings about questions of concern regarding sunscreen and whether it inhibits the body’s production of vitamin D.
“Sunlight is the main source of vitamin D. Sunscreens can prevent sunburn and skin cancer, but there has been a lot of uncertainty about the effects of sunscreens on vitamin D. Our study, during a week of perfect weather in Tenerife, showed that sunscreens, even when used optimally to prevent sunburn, allowed excellent vitamin D synthesis.” says Antony Young, PhD.
UVB is essential for vitamin D synthesis which is contained in sunlight along with UVA. 2 sunscreens with the same SPF were compared, sunscreen with a high UVA protection factor was found to have enabled higher vitamin D synthesis than a low UVA factor sunscreen which was likely because it allowed more UVB transmission.
“Comparisons were made between two formulations, each with a sun protection factor of 15. The UVA protection factor (UVA‐PF) was low in one case and high in the other. Healthy Polish volunteers (n=20 per group) were given the sunscreens and advised on correct application. Comparisons were also made with discretionary sunscreen use (n=22) and non‐holiday groups (51o5N, n=17). Sunscreen use in the intervention groups was measured. Behavior, UVR exposure, clothing cover, and sunburn were monitored. Serum 25(OH)D, was assessed by HPLC MS/MS.” Both low and high UVA-PF groups showed significant increases in serum 25(OH)D produced during the metabolism of vitamin D in the body.
Based on their findings the researchers concluded that sunscreens can help to prevent sunburn while allowing vitamin D synthesis; higher UVA-PF sunscreens enable higher vitamin D synthesis than lower because by default higher formulations transmit more UVB. It was noted that additional research is needed in a larger population based double blind study to determine if these results can be replicated for all skin types and ethnic backgrounds.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement