Last year, a study published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association made headlines claiming that the use of sunscreens was responsible for widespread vitamin D deficiency worldwide . Given the fact that wearing sunscreen is one of the most common advice from doctors. Should the risk of vitamin D deficiency – which can lead to brittle bones and has been linked to insulin resistance, hypertension, and decreased immune function – overshadow the years of this recommendation?
Not according to Dr. Victoria Werth Professor of Dermatology and Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, who is certified in both dermatology and internal medicine. "I think we are too worried about vitamin D," says Werth. "The risk of skin cancer is so much greater than that of vitamin D."
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In 201
Given the frequency, Werth says that prevention of skin cancer should be given priority over protection against vitamin D deficiency, especially since it is possible to get some vitamin D from food (such as fish, egg yolk, mushrooms and fortified foods) and supplements. She also says that it is a myth that wearing sunscreen completely stops the absorption of vitamin D from sunlight.
"On the order of 2% to 7% of the light comes through, depending on the sun protection factor of the sunscreen," says Werth. "When people use a SPF of 15, only 93% of the rays are blocked and enough sun can penetrate to deliver enough vitamin D."
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If you spend about 15 days a day in the midday sun while wearing SPF 15, this would probably be enough to prevent the vitamin To bring D levels to a healthy range, she says. If you do not take sunscreen, it only takes about 10 minutes – give or take something, depending on how dark your skin is – to get enough.
The effects of vitamin D deficiency – which, according to some estimates, affects about 40% of the US population in varying degrees of severity – should not be downplayed, especially for children. But by and large Werth says it fades compared to the importance of preventing skin cancer.
"It's really important to put everything that is said about the sun into perspective, that we see many skin cancers really terrible," she says.