We Are Sunshine

Adults Get Vitamin D Message: Study

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Nearly one-third of adults in a recent study know that sun exposure without sunscreen increases vitamin D levels, with 42 percent of those adults turning to the sun to get “the sunshine vitamin” according to a new study.

Published in Public Health Reports, the survey of 8,000 adults in Maryland suggests that vitamin D awareness is increasing. Five years ago, surveys suggested almost no one knew their vitamin D blood levels — or even that they even had one. Encouraging was the fact that the more education respondents had, the more likely they were to understand that sunlight is the best source vitamin D.

“The public has long been encouraged to engage in sun-safe practices to minimize exposure to sunlight, the major cause of nonmelanoma skin cancer,” the authors wrote. “More recently, some have advocated unprotected sun exposure to increase cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D as a way to promote health. We assessed the net result of these conflicting messages.”

The authors are worried that telling the public to get unprotected sun exposure will undermine skin cancer prevention strategies. Smart Tan disagrees.

“People need to be counseled to prevent sunburn — but not to simply avoid the sun. You can’t just lie to people and tell them that sun isn’t the best way to get vitamin D because you think that any and all sun exposure is harmful,” Smart Tan Executive Director Joseph Levy said. “The public is figuring this out. The message needs to be balanced — understanding the proper context of the risks of overexposure but respecting the whole truth. Sun Scare messengers continue to foster a giant deception — telling people that nature was wrong and that pills are a better way to get the sunshine vitamin.”

To read the study click here.

To read The Vitamin D Council’s interpretation of the study click here.