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27-01-2011 | Article

Unprotected sun exposure to boost vitamin D should be avoided


AAD website

MedWire News: The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) has published a statement recommending that the public obtain vitamin D from a healthy diet and/or dietary supplements, and not from unprotected sun exposure.

The statement is based on a recent review by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine (IOM), in which more than 1000 scientific studies were assessed.

The findings showed that the vitamin D blood level deemed adequate for bone health and safe for the human body is 20 ng/ml, and the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is 600 international units (IUs) per day for adults up to the age of 70 years and 800 IUs for those aged 71 years and older.

These RDAs for vitamin D were calculated at minimal sun exposure, the ADD notes. The findings also showed that most Americans and Canadians are getting adequate amounts of vitamin D through eating foods naturally rich in vitamin D or fortified with vitamin D.

The ADD therefore states that people should therefore not be exposing themselves to the sun unprotected or for prolonged periods of time, or using indoor tanning devices to try and achieve maximum vitamin D levels, as this increases their risk for skin cancer.

"There is no scientifically proven, safe threshold of sun or indoor tanning device exposure that allows for maximum vitamin D synthesis in the skin without increasing the risk for skin cancer," the Academy asserts.

William James, president of the ADD, commented: "The IOM's review of the scientific evidence about vitamin D supports the Academy's long-standing recommendation on safe ways to get this important vitamin - through a healthy diet which incorporates foods naturally rich in vitamin D, vitamin D-fortified foods and beverages, and vitamin D supplements."

He added: "Unprotected exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or indoor tanning is not safe. Individuals who intentionally expose themselves to ultraviolet radiation for vitamin D are putting their health at risk for developing skin cancer."

The AAD continues to recommend that individuals protect themselves against ultraviolet exposure when outdoors by seeking shade, wearing sunscreen, and covering up, and avoiding tanning beds.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Current Medicine Group, a trading division of Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Lucy Piper