Vitamin D and Tanning


Many proponents of tanning beds will discuss the importance of sun and Vitamin D levels. Below is a video from dermatologist Jeff Benabio discussing vitamin D and tanning. Remember, there are many other ways to get vitamin D in your system besides tanning. Tanning beds often do not have the correct UV rays to create vitamin D in your system. Stay sun smart this Memorial Day and limit your time in the sun especially between 10am and 4pm when the sun’s rays are strongest. Read more about how to protect yourself from skin cancer on the Skin Cancer Foundation website.


  1. D3forU says:

    It’s so sad that the benefits of a controlled, consistant, known source of uv light like a tanning bed is demonized, and the Sun, which is uncontrolled is what is responsible for 95% of skin cancers (easilly removed too) is what can never be outlawed.

    All the “increased diagnoses” of skin cancer are phony. As my own derm says..”the little ones that they used to leave alone are now removed for the insurance money.” So, MORE are diagnosed but there are actually no more.

    And where do people get the severe burns? In tanning beds or at the beach, pool, shore, lake, golf course, back yard?

  2. Perry Holman says:

    I disagree with Mr. Benabio’s statement that “most tanning beds have very little UVB if at all”. 95% of tanning beds have the same ratio of UV as natural sunlight. That would be 95% UVA and 5% UVB. That small 5% UVB in a typical tanning session will produce 10,000 to 20,000 IU of Vitamin D in a person’s skin. A photon of light is a photon of light. There is no such thing as artificial UV radiation. Whether you get it from a tanning bed or the sun its the same.

    Moderate UV exposure, in a non-burning fashion, will provide far more benefit in terms of total cancer prevention than the risk of skin cancer. Visit and have a look at the Disease Incidence Prevention chart.

    UV exposure is the best way to get Vitamin D. It has been perfected in our bodies over millions of years. Without the sun and this process we wouldn’t be here today.

  3. @d3foru
    Skin cancer incidence has increased every year including the incidence of potentially deadly melanoma

  4. @perry
    UVB exposure can increase vitamin D levels. So does taking a vitamin D supplement. Purposely exposing your skin to tanning beds (which use varying amounts of UVB depending on the machine) increases your risk for melanoma, basal cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma. Taking a vitamin D supplement does not.

    A little sun can be helpful for some people, but it must be done on an individual basis. Some people should not get any sun in summer (always burn). Some people could get an hour or more of sun and still not produce much vitamin D (never burn). The system that developed over millions of years only works when your skin color matches the latitude where your (prehistoric) ancestors lived.

  5. Troy says:

    From the Australian Skin Smart perspective
    As the summer months heat up many of us take the opportunity to take our lifestyle outdoors.
    The information below sourced from the Australian Cancer Council, outlines the four main types of skin cancers. Save your skin before its too late!
    Melanoma: A Melanoma is a dangerous skin cancer that can be fatal if not detected early. They can occur anywhere on the body and can appear as a new spot, an existing spot or from a freckle or mole. They usually have an irregular or smudgy outline; may be blotchy and more than one colour, ranging from brown, black, blue, red or grey.
    Nodular Melanoma: This is a highly dangerous form of melanoma that grows quickly and can be life threatening if not detected and removed early. It can appear as a small, round lump on the skin and can be black, brown, pink or red, looking very similar to a blood blister. It is generally firm to touch and may crust and bleed.
    Basal Cell Carcinoma: This is the most common and least dangerous of all the skin cancers. They tend to be slow growing and occur on the head, neck or upper body. It appears as a lump or scaling area, red or paley in colour. It can become ulcerated and like a sore that won’t heal.
    Squamous Cell Carcinoma: This skin cancer is not as dangerous as a melanoma but can spread to other parts of the body if not detected early. It occurs on areas most exposed to the sun and appears as a thickened, red, scaly spot which may bleed or ulcerate overtime.
    The cancer council recommends 6 easy steps to protect your skin:
    1. Slip on a closely woven long sleeve shirt
    2. Slop on SPF 30+ sunscreen
    3. Slap on a broard brim hat
    4. Wear sunglasses that meet standards
    5. Seek shade whenever possible
    6. Stay in shaded areas or indoors when UVR levels are highest from 10am to 2pm (11am to 3pm daylight savings).
    Follow these few simple guidelines and have a stress free summer vacation!

  6. Kirk says:

    Everyone is right, to some degree. It is important to NOT burn, but EVERYONE, has some tolerance to sun exposure, and, bottomline, NATURAL sun exposure is the best way to get it! There is no plausible way that taking an oral supplement could possibly mimic the body’s natural production of Vitamin D! Type I skin vs Type V skin will obviously have their inherent differences, but the body will still produce Vitamin D, and that is FAR better than taking some pill from Costco!

    That is the problem with medicine today, everyone just wants to take a pill! Something made out of a lab, from synthetic products CANNOT ever mimic the body’s ability to do it alone. Our Vitamin D levels have been declining since everyone started freaking out about sun exposure! Kind of reminds me when everyone thought that prostate cancer and testosterone cannot coexist, when in fact, just because one is declining in the face of the other rising, doesn’t mean that one necessarily causes the other! For decades we (as medical professionals) were taught that higher levels of testosterone will contribute to higher levels of prostate cancer. After all, Prostate Cancer is rising even while testosterone levels are falling–that must mean that IF we give more testosterone, it MUST by definition cause more Prostate Cancer.

    Well, after almost 70 years of this fallacy/myth, evidence is actually showing that higher levels of testosterone would actually prevent prostate cancer from forming in the first place!

    Moral is that nature is far better than medical intervention in many cases. Moderate sun exposure, without burning, will prove to be a better option than swallowing some pill–what with all the other preservatives, stabilizers, carriers, and other additives in order to make it stable enough to make into a capsule, tablet, etc.! Have you looked at a label on any leading sunscreen brand? DO you have ANY idea what all that stuff is? Do we really know what THEY cause our body to do? Many of those products are just a chemical reaction or two from more powerful, banned substances that are KNOWN to cause cancers, birth defects, etc!

    No thank you, I’ll take moderate sun exposure any day for my OWN Vitamin D!

  7. D3forU says:

    So why has mortality from melanoma stayed at a constant 2/100,000 or 0.00002 for women in the past 30 years as noted from the US CDC?

    Men on the other hand have been increasing since the 1970’s and even before.

    If we go all the way back to the 1930’s we can see a correlation between Sunscreen sales and an increase in melanoma incidence as registered by the Connecticut Tumor Registry.

    Even the most recent study released that tries to prove indoor tanning is bad show an increased risk with use of sunscreens of 30% while lifetime exposure, outdoor jobs, and outdoor recreation all show a lowered risk from melanoma.

    Many moles has a risk of 1281% higher, red hair, very fair skin raised the risk 450%, and more than 5 lifetime sunburns raised the risk 156%. Add any one or more of these factors together and you have risk without ever seeing the inside of a tanning salon.

    Interesting that this study was able to find 62% of cases and 51% of controls that had ever used an indoor tanning bed, yet statistics from the industry show that on average not more than 10-15% of the population has ever used their services.

    Also noted in this study is almost those same percentages of people registered having more than 5 sunburns in their lifetime in both the case study and controls?

    On the heels of all this, the Environmental Working Group recently issued a warning that Sunscreen products have ingredients that may speed up the cancer that sunscreen is used to prevent.

  8. D3forU says:

    By the way, I’m not arguing that you are seeing more cases, just that the underlying reason as to why is seriously suspect.

    Over the past few weeks, the weather has turned for the better, and casual observation shows many non-tanners walking around with sunburns, again.

    At a recent Field Day with primary school children, over 25% went home at the end of the day, severely pink, and some rather red, including more than a few teachers, even after parents had been requested to send sunscreen with their children to school that day.

    Tanning beds are regulated as to the amount of exposure they may produce, a total of 4 MED’s, but the sun is not so regulated or controllable.

    During the course of that one day, these kids were exposed to over 500% the UVB from the strongest Tanning Beds, and 300% more UVA from the “High Pressure Beds.”

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