Experts emphasize the use of sunscreen to protect the skin against harmful UV rays. This not only prevents tanning but also reduces the risk of skin problems that may occur due to prolonged sun exposure and free radicals. Amid the importance of sunscreen, queries are surfacing on the internet claiming sunscreen causes deficiency of vitamin D. Let us find out whether sunscreen can actually deplete vitamin D levels in the body.
Every healthcare expert recommends using good sunscreen in every season and not just in summers. UV rays of the sun are extremely harsh and they can harm your skin even when it is not the hot season. Using sun protection shields the skin and minimises the damage which is evident. Additionally, some experts even suggest applying sunscreen when indoors for better protection. However, with increasing cases of vitamin D deficiency in people, it is speculated that the use of sunscreen could be a reason for this. Does chronic use of sunscreens for sun protection affect vitamin D absorption? Can using sunscreens make you deficient in vitamin D? scroll down to find out.
A study conducted by the British Association of Dermatologists and published in PubMed NCBI reads, "experimental studies suggest that sunscreen can block vitamin D production in the skin but use artificially generated ultraviolet radiation with a spectral output unlike that seen in terrestrial sunlight. Nonsystematic reviews of observational studies suggest that use in real life does not cause vitamin D deficiency."
All the existing studies on sunscreen and vitamin D link are performed for low-SPF protection. Considering the current scenario of increased sun exposure, damage and risk of skin cancer, experts recommend using high-SPF sunscreen. No studies have a clear answer for if sunscreens with SPF 40+ can cause vitamin D deficiency or not.
Several dermatologists also explain that no matter what SPF sunscreen you use, the UV radiations are still going to affect your skin in some manner. If you apply SPF 15, it will filter out about 93% of the UVB rays reaching the skin. On the other hand, SPF 30 reduces 97% and SPF 50 reduces 98% of the exposure to UVB rays. In a nutshell, no matter what sunscreen you use, your skin gets some percent of the UV rays. Similarly, you will get vitamin D from the sunlight. Sunscreen won’t obstruct all of it.
To receive maximum vitamin D from the sun, it is suggested that you soak up some morning sunlight. It has fewer UV rays and so, it won’t harm the skin. You do not need to apply sunscreen at that time, which is great if you aim at maximum vitamin D absorption through sunlight.
However, apply sunscreen as much as possible to ward off the risk of skin cancer and other concerns that come with sun exposure. While vitamin D can be supplemented through diet, sun protection cannot. So, use good sunscreen while going out to shield your skin.
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