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20th August 2018

Does sunscreen stop me getting enough vitamin D?

We answer one of the biggest rebukes to SPF50+ sunscreens.

While the sun can cause serious skin damage, it also helps the body produce vitamin D for the development and maintenance of healthy teeth and bones. Some people often worry that sunscreens will interfere with vitamin D production especially sunscreens with high SPF’s. Studies in high-risk groups have found that sunscreen use does not cause vitamin D deficiency nor does it increase the risk of osteoporosis. Normal vitamin D levels can be maintained from diet and supplements.

The BDNG and the SAPHNA agree that there is a clear link between skin cancers and sun exposure. They recommend a diet rich in vitamin D and/or supplements as a more effective and safer alternative than putting yourself or loved ones at risk of skin cancers by not using a sunscreen.

If you are concerned about your vitamin D levels we recommend consulting your GP to get tested. Based on the test result, your doctor may recommend vitamin D supplements

The following studies have also shown that there is no clear link between sunscreen use and vitamin D deficiency:

  • Studies from high -risk groups such as those with xeroderma pigmentosum and solar keratosis, have shown that sunscreen does not necessarily cause vitamin D deficiency. [Sollitto 1997; Farrerons 1998; Marks 1995]
  • Sunscreen use does not seem to increase the risk of osteoporosis [Farrerons 2001]
  • Normal sunscreen use does not generally cause vitamin D insufficiency [Norval & Wulf 2009; Mackie 2010; Wolpowitz & Gilchrest 2006]
  • Skin cancer avoidance and vitamin D nutrition are not necessarily at odds [Egan 2009]
  • The Working Group of Australian & NZ Bone & Mineral Society, Endocrine Society of Australia & Osteoporosis Australia recommends sunscreens and sun avoidance measures when the UV index is 3 or above and/or there is a risk of sun damage, even for people with vitamin D deficiency
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