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The truth behind vitamin D and the sun

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Ever hear someone say “But I MUST tan! I need the vitamin D!” We do in fact need vitamin D to use calcium and phosphorus – minerals that are necessary for building strong bones and healthy bodies. And while it’s true that vitamin D can come from the sun, the experts at the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) warn that there is no scientifically proven safe amount of UV exposure that will increase your vitamin D without increasing your skin cancer risk. The AAD recommends that best way to get your vitamin D is from dietary sources.*

UV rays can cause both premature aging of the skin and skin cancer. There is significant scientific evidence to support this fact, which is why the World Health Organization’s International Agency of Research on Cancer classifies UV radiation from the sun and tanning devices as a known carcinogen – a cancer-causing agent. (UV exposure can also lead to cataracts and suppressed immune responses.)

It’s best to get your vitamin D from a healthy diet, including naturally enriched vitamin D foods (try fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, eggs, dried shiitake mushrooms, soy milk, and cheese). You can also take vitamin D supplements (always consult with your doctor first).

More than 3.5 million skin cancers in more than 2 million people are diagnosed in the United States annually.**  While the benefits of vitamin D to bone health are well known, it also is well known that exposure to UV radiation can cause skin cancer.

The bottom line: Vitamin D from food and dietary supplements offers the same benefits — without the danger of skin cancer — as vitamin D obtained from UV light. And don’t forget: Always wear a broad spectrum sunscreen daily!

 

* Source: AAD.org; ** Source: SkinCancer.org

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