Vitamin D Pills vs. Tanning Beds

Vitamin D Pills vs. Tanning Beds
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A reclassification of tanning beds as a Group 1 carcinogen underscores the importance of vitamin D supplementation for those at risk for deficiency.

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As I’ve noted in previous volumes, vitamin D deficiency remains a major problem. Even if every day we do go outside and get 15-30 minutes of midday sun, the majority of North America is at such a high latitude that during the winter months the sun’s rays are at such an angle that it’s necessary to supplement our diet with this sunshine vitamin. There’s been a suggestion, though, that instead of taking pills, it’s preferable to go to a tanning salon. Well, a major review on just that topic was just published. What do you think they found?

Tanning beds for vitamin D: harmful, harmless, or helpful? Harmful. Last summer, the World Health Organization raised the carcinogen classification of tanning beds to the highest level. With evidence showing that tanning bed exposure can raise the risk of the deadliest kind of skin cancer by up to 75%, the International Agency for Research on Cancer bumped tanning beds up to a Group 1 carcinogen—along with things like asbestos, cigarettes, and arsenic.

Okay, more skin cancer, but wouldn’t the vitamin D you produce lower your risk of internal cancer so much that it would all balance out, like it does with moderate sun exposure?

The light produced by the sun is not the same as the light produced by tanning beds. Most tanning devices primarily emit UVA, which is relatively inefficient in stimulating vitamin D synthesis. So the health benefits can be fully disassociated from the risks with vitamin D supplementation for those unwilling or unable to get enough sunshine.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

As I’ve noted in previous volumes, vitamin D deficiency remains a major problem. Even if every day we do go outside and get 15-30 minutes of midday sun, the majority of North America is at such a high latitude that during the winter months the sun’s rays are at such an angle that it’s necessary to supplement our diet with this sunshine vitamin. There’s been a suggestion, though, that instead of taking pills, it’s preferable to go to a tanning salon. Well, a major review on just that topic was just published. What do you think they found?

Tanning beds for vitamin D: harmful, harmless, or helpful? Harmful. Last summer, the World Health Organization raised the carcinogen classification of tanning beds to the highest level. With evidence showing that tanning bed exposure can raise the risk of the deadliest kind of skin cancer by up to 75%, the International Agency for Research on Cancer bumped tanning beds up to a Group 1 carcinogen—along with things like asbestos, cigarettes, and arsenic.

Okay, more skin cancer, but wouldn’t the vitamin D you produce lower your risk of internal cancer so much that it would all balance out, like it does with moderate sun exposure?

The light produced by the sun is not the same as the light produced by tanning beds. Most tanning devices primarily emit UVA, which is relatively inefficient in stimulating vitamin D synthesis. So the health benefits can be fully disassociated from the risks with vitamin D supplementation for those unwilling or unable to get enough sunshine.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

For more on Vitamin D, check out these videos:
Is Vitamin D3 Better Than D2?
Take Vitamin D Supplements With Meals
Is Vitamin D the New Vitamin E?
Vitamin D and Mortality May Be a U-Shaped Curve

And check out my other videos on vitamin D.

For more context, also see my associated blog posts:  Aspartame: Fibromyalgia & Preterm Birth, and Vitamin D from Mushrooms, Sun, or Supplements? 

If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here.

 

24 responses to “Vitamin D Pills vs. Tanning Beds

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  1. I live in Yukon, Canada (doesn’t show on your map). How much should I be taking? 4000 IU a day, all year long? Also, is this the amount for D2? Any thoughts on D2 vs. D3?




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  2. According to Dr. Mercola, we don’t get proper Vitamin D from the sun because we shower with soap and the oils that need to still be absorbed on top of our skin don’t have a chance to. He claims it takes 48 hours without a soapy shower for vitamin d to be used effectively. Is there any truth to this?




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    1. The process by which vitamin D is synthesized by our body begins with a presence of sterol cholesterol on our skin which is converted into sterol-7dehydrocholesterol. When the skin is exposed to the sun (or ultra-violet light) for regular intervals, a photochemical conversion from sterol-7 dehydrocholesterol into Vitamin D occurs. The absorption of this newly formed vitamin D into the bloodstream is what is claimed to be disrupted by using soap. I’m not sure how strong the evidence is for this claim, and I wasn’t able to find a research publication on the topic. However, if it is true, all the more reason to take vitamin D supplements as Dr. Greger suggests! Here’s another great video that shows the association between vitamin D supplementation and longer life expectency, check it out! http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/vitamin-supplements-worth-taking/ I hope this helps!




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  3. Now that there is a new vegan D3, (Vitashine) would you recommend this over D2? How much should we take per day? At 20$ a bottle, 4000 would be pretty expensive.




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  4. In New Zealand we have a problem with a hole in the ozone layer, causing a much more intense UV exposure and major problems with rates of skin cancers. My question is, does this mean the length of time for sun exposure in order to achieve sufficient vitamin D would be shorter than in the northern hemisphere?




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  5. Very interesting…but what about sensible narrowband ultraviolet B for production of vitamin D? For example 10 minutes 3 times a week on bare skin, in conjunction with tobacco avoidance and an anti-oxidant packed, plant based diet which has been shown to be protective against skin damage including both melanoma & non-melanoma….




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    1. Hello Kerleyc,

      Based on the studies Dr. Greger has found, to get adequate vitamin D intake, 10 min. 3 times a week is inadequate. If you are fair skinned, you need 30 min. a day 7 days a week with full body exposure and this is midday sun in the summer, in the winter it is longer. You will find supplementation of Vitamin D to be your easiest option.

      http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/vitamin-supplements-worth-taking/
      http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/vitamin-d-supplements-may-be-necessary/




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  6. What about light therapy? Could this not be a way to avoid both the risk of skin cancer AND the dangers of vitamin d-supplements?




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    1.  I recommend sun light first in moderation. You can consider Vit D supplementation and get levels checked to make sure you are not overdoing it. Although the recent recommended blood levels have been increased levels in the 20’s are probably acceptable. Some patients even with alot of sunlight exposure can’t raise their levels above 30. It is however a confusing area but the science keeps getting better. It is also possible that somewhere down the line we will discover some other substance or effect that natural sunlight has for us that isn’t contained in a Vit D supplement. The nice thing about sun light exposure is you can often couple it with exercise. So work with your  physician(s) and keep tuned to NutritionFacts as the science keeps coming….




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  7. Hello Dr. Greger,
    Love your video  website.
    Can you please post more videos on melanoma.  My sister-in-law died of it last year at 48 years old.  She left behind two beautiful teenage daughters.  I want to educate them on staying healthy.  Of course I am encouraging them to eat as much raw fruits and veggies as possible.
    Tracey




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  8. What about tanning beds with electronic ballasts? instead of magnetic, or the smaller version UV lamps? that are being sold? can these also me harmfull?




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    1. electronic ballasts are more energy efficient than magnetic, but I can’t see how it would have any effect on the spectrum of light put out by the fluorescent lamps.

      Same would go if they used ultraviolet LEDs instead, all that really matters is the frequency of the light, and how powerful the light source is.




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  9. I have read very contradictory information about sunscreen and skin cancer. Some say to always wear sunscreen to protect against skin cancer, others say non-natural sunscreens causes cancer. Of course, we also can get Vitamin D from the sun. Can you please clear this issue Up?




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    1. Dr. Greger points out that modern commercial vanity tanning beds are not appropriate for Vit.D production, because they produce UVA and little or no UVB. Are there any decent broader spectrum UV options that can be used lightly to simulate light/moderate exposure to the sun? Of course, UVB is more dangerous and carcinogenic than UVA, so any such product would need to be used with great care. Anyone??




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  10. “Sunbeds of course can be used to make vitamin D. It has been one of
    the ways that we have measured the amount of vitamin D that the skin has
    the capacity to make,” stated Dr. Reinhold Vieth, a professor at the
    University of Toronto in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and
    Pathobiology.

    “Tanners actually have robust levels of vitamin D,” stated Dr.
    Michael Holick, Professor, School of Medicine, Endocrinology, Diabetes
    & Nutrition, Boston University.

    Here is a comparison of a typical sunbed as related to outdoor
    sunlight. The outdoor snapshot was taken on June 24, 2014 which
    coincides with the Summer Solstice in Chicago. These levels are only
    available between the hours of 12-2 PM.

    The Sunbed replicates this golden window of optimal UVB for Vitamin D
    production on demand and is not dependent on a daily schedule, time of
    the day, time of the season, weather conditions such as clouds and haze
    any day of the year in a controlled environment which can then be
    additionally adjusted by skin type for personalized exposure schedules.

    https://justdfacts.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/sunbeds-and-outdoor-exposure-as-a-means-of-producing-vitamin-d/




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