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My Life on the D List

Posted by bmagnus On April - 21 - 2010

A lot has been made of new research showing that tanning beds can be “addictive.” Indeed, some people — including many dermatologists — want to see tanning beds banned! The FDA Advisory Panel wants restrictions on the use of tanning beds by minors. Politicians have imposed additional taxes on tanning bed use like the taxes on cigarettes. But here’s the problem: tanning beds can be of great benefit to people with vitamin D deficiency, and that is more common than you think.

Recent scientific papers have linked low vitamin D levels to such diverse conditions as rheumatoid arthritis, cognitive decline, asthma, heart disease in diabetics, and aggressive lymphoma, to say nothing of the long-known problem of rickets. Vitamin D supplementation has even been suggested as a flu fighting strategy! And the fact of the matter is that new research released this week shows that it’s hard to even know if you have a vitamin D deficiency without a blood test.

While experts will tell you that you can get vitamin D from fortified foods like milk, certain cold water fish like salmon, and of course supplements, the cold hard truth is that even the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements admits that “Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods.” The absolute easiest way to get it is to let your body make it, and that involves exposing yourself to sunlight. Humans have been getting their vitamin D in this manner for thousands of years, and it is peculiar that suddenly it is dangerous to do so. There’s clearly a lot we don’t know about sun exposure, and there may be more at work than just vitamin D: a new study just released today suggests that “UV radiation, not vitamin D, might limit multiple sclerosis symptoms.”

We’ve talked about sun exposure as a bad thing from a skin aging standpoint before, the problem is undoubtedly one of balance. Health requires vitamin D. Vitamin D synthesis requires sun exposure. Sun exposure can cause damage to connective tissue and premature skin aging as well as contributing to the development of skin cancer. I’ve heard it said that the sun is good for you but after 15 minutes it’s trying to kill you. As a witticism it’s a little flippant but there’s also some truth to it.

No matter how much data we present here, there’s still more. Read more and make a smart, informed choice regarding vitamin D and balancing that with sun exposure.

One Response to “My Life on the D List”

  1. […] has been plenty of recent research on Vitamin D, as we have discussed before. With this much new information about how important the “sunshine vitamin” is […]