FERNDALE, Wash.—Nearly 64 percent of Americans surveyed are unaware sunscreen hinders the body's ability to produce vitamin D—a nutrient found beneficial to the immune system, bone strength, colon health, etc. The survey was conducted by WELLESSE, manufacturers of a liquid vitamin D3 supplement. "Vitamin D is important to overall health. People need to be aware sunscreen, even at SPF15, blocks more than 90 percent of the sun's rays used to produce this vital vitamin," warned Dr. Michael Holick, M.D., Ph.D. of Boston University.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends the public obtain vitamin D from nutritional sources and dietary supplements, and not from unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or indoor tanning devises, as UV radiation is a known risk factor for the development of skin cancer. 1
For optimal health, regular sunscreen users should consider nutritional vitamin D sources from their diet. But often dietary sources, including mackerel, sardines, salmon or fortified milk are not frequently consumed by Americans in the amounts needed to satisfy the daily allowance.
Vitamin D deficiency has garnered the attention of leading scientific and public health organizations. In April, The Archives of Internal Medicine reported more than 75 percent of Americans have vitamin D insufficiency.2 Last fall, The American Public Health Association called vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency "a major public health concern for both children and adults in the United States." 3
Populations who may need additional vitamin D, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements include breastfed infants, people ages 50 and older, those with limited sun exposure, with dark skin, with fat mal-absorption and the obese.