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Skin Care and Diseases

Vitamin D and Sun Exposure

06/30/2011

Question:

I’ve read many places that one should use SPF 50 whenever you go outside. I’ve also heard that there is a growing Vitamin D deficiency being observed and that sun-blockers are contributing to this deficiency. Some say that there is no safe level of sun exposure, others are saying you should expose your skin to the sun a little to help generate Vitamin D and gain other benefits of letting your skin "breathe". What is the proper amount of sun that one should receive (without sunscreen) to gain the benefits of vitamin D generation and still not unduly risk skin cancer? Thank you for the information.

Answer:

You are correct that this is an area of controversy. My position reflects that of the American Academy of Dermatology and is that we should all be using a broad spectrum sunscreen with UVA as well as UVB protection and a sun protection factor of an least 30. The recommended amt of intake of Vitamin D is generally 400 -600 IU and you can certainly have your Vitamin D blood levels measured by your PCP. If they are low, you can take a supplement to bring them into the normal range.

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Response by:

Neil J Korman, MD, PhD Neil J Korman, MD, PhD
Professor of Dermatology
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University