The Effect of Sunscreen on Vitamin D
The Truth About Vitamin D and Sunscreen
One of the best ways to avoid sun damage is to wear sunscreen. However, a common concern is that wearing sunscreen daily may cause Vitamin D deficiency. I've heard this from doctors and my parents throughout my life and it's a comment I often hear my customers make at the summer market days too. But what science is there to back up this claim? I did some research to find out the answer to this question.
Why Vitamin D is Important
Vitamin D is important for healthy bones as it helps us to absorb calcium. Severe Vitamin D deficiency can lead to bone diseases such as osteoporosis (Chang and Lee 2019). It's not found in many foods so the main way we get our vitamin D is from exposure to the sun's UVB rays (Chang and Lee 2019). On the other hand, UVB rays can damage skin cells, eventually leading to melanoma (MD Anderson Cancer Centre).
According to Health Navigator, as little as 15 minutes under the sun (without sunscreen), 3 times a week enables your body to make enough vitamin D. The advice they give is to be sensible and to avoid sunburn due to the risk of skin cancer.
Does sunscreen prevent vitamin D synthesis?
Short Answer: No. At least not when using a lower SPF sunscreen (SPF 15). More research about higher SPF sunscreen use in a real-life setting is needed.
Long Answer: There is little evidence that SPF 15 sunscreen decreases Vitamin D when used in real-life settings (as opposed to the lab); however, there have been no trials of the high-SPF sunscreens (Neal et al. 2019). Current research suggests that concerns about vitamin D should not negate skin cancer prevention advice. Clearly, more research on the effects of wearing SPF 30 and above sunscreen is needed.
Skin cancer prevention advice
These are some of the best things you can to do protect your skin against the risk of melanoma (skin cancer):
- Seek shade between 10am-4pm
- Use clothing (long sleeves, hat and sunglasses) to protect your skin from the sun)
- Wear an SPF 30 or higher sunscreen on exposed body parts
Protect your skin with Seasick Sunscreen
Seasick Sunscreen is an independently certified SPF 30 sunscreen. We use non-nano zinc oxide as our only active ingredient which provides highly effective protection against both UVA and UVB rays. Zinc oxide is one of only two active sunscreen ingredients listed as safe and effective by the FDA (Ma and Joo 2021).
Chang, S.W. and Lee, H.C., 2019. Vitamin D and health-The missing vitamin in humans. Pediatrics & Neonatology, 60(3), pp.237-244. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S187595721830651X
Health Navigator. Vitamin D. Available from https://www.healthnavigator.org.nz/healthy-living/v/vitamin-d/#:~:text=As%20little%20as%2015%20minutes%20in%20direct%20sunlight%20(without%20sunscreen,you%20don't%20get%20sunburnt.
Ma, Y. and Yoo, J., 2021. History of sunscreen: An updated view. Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 20(4), pp.1044-1049. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/jocd.14004?casa_token=ZSrj92XBxvUAAAAA%3ABz6xg61D5FBxVFC_MoZy3fxbvf3UW3kMNsD80z48bk9RVDxfl3xJSt_hdm6s03hOcLpI7KTYS13d6FAM
MD Anderson Cancer Centre. What’s the difference between UVA and UVB rays?
Neale, R.E., Khan, S.R., Lucas, R.M., Waterhouse, M., Whiteman, D.C. and Olsen, C.M., 2019. The effect of sunscreen on vitamin D: a review. British Journal of Dermatology, 181(5), pp.907-915. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/bjd.17980?casa_token=V0l5HZWhEhsAAAAA%3AbtkmemYOMaOtCnrVNSfwhYH5Np1eRb4twZEP4_tox1MmM0OzfhSie5mkfi-5w9WyI7weZt5CAJi7ShvG