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Vitamin D Not Needed From Sun

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

Isn't some tanning necessary in order to get vitamin D?


Some Sun Essential

Dear Some Sun Essential,

No, tanning is not needed in order to get vitamin D. It would be safer and healthier to get vitamin D from food sources such as cereal fortified with vitamin D, or taking a supplement.

Vitamin D is important for the body to be able to use calcium, needed for strong bones.

The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) feels strongly about limiting sun exposure. In brief below are the AAD reasons to get vitamin D from your diet, not the sun.


1. UV rays cause premature aging of the skin, actinic keratoses and skin cancer, cataracts and suppresses the body's immune system.

2. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. Over half of all new cancers in the United States are skin cancers. Worldwide, half of the cancers diagnosed in people are skin cancers.

3. Many of the more than one million skin cancers diagnosed in the United States during 2005 could have been prevented with protection from the sun's rays. Skin cancer is one of the cancers for which the cause is known - exposure to UV radiation.

4. The number of diagnosed cases of skin cancer continues to increase at an alarming rate. At current rates, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime.

5. One person dies from melanoma, a type of skin cancer, almost every hour (approximately every 68 minutes) in the United States. Today, melanoma is the most prevalent form of cancer among women aged 25 to 29.

6. Dietary sources of vitamin D do not prematurely age the skin nor increase the risk of developing skin cancer or actinic keratoses. Research shows that vitamin D supplements are well-tolerated, safe and effective.

7. People can have normal vitamin D levels with limited sun exposure.

8. Sunscreen use does not cause vitamin D deficiency. Sunscreen helps prevent premature aging, actinic keratoses and skin cancer. Sunscreen is one component of a comprehensive sun protection program and should be used year round.

9. Humans need calcium to benefit from vitamin D. Sun exposure does not provide calcium. Getting enough calcium and vitamin D is essential to prevent osteoporosis.

10. Vitamin D from food and dietary supplements offers the same benefits - without the danger of UV exposure - as vitamin D obtained from the sun.

For more information, see