We Are Sunshine

Beauty Magazine Misrepresents UV-Vitamin D Information

Monday, April 21st, 2008

Cosmopolitan Magazine, with financial partnership from the American Academy of Dermatology and skin care giant Clinique, continued its misrepresentation of how much UV light people need to make vitamin D, suggesting in May that “You can get plenty of vitamin D just by walking outside, even with sunscreen, for five minutes, three times a week. Another good source of vitamin D is dairy products.”

2008-04-21-cosmo-copy.jpgThe trouble is there is absolutely no research to support that and plenty of data to refute it. Consider:

  • More than half of Americans and 97 percent of Canadians are vitamin D deficient, according to the vitamin D research community. An estimated 1 billion people worldwide are vitamin D deficient, and the numbers have been established by many independent studies. “If casual exposure to sunlight was all we needed five minutes a day three times a week, we would not be seeing pandemic levels of vitamin D deficiency in the population,” Smart Tan Vice President Joseph Levy said. “And for Cosmo to suggest that people can still make ample vitamin D while wearing sunscreen is questionable at best and fraudulent at worst.”
  • Cosmo receives an estimated $1 million in advertising an issue from companies that recommend daily usage of sunscreen even on days when sunburn isn’t possible — a practice that represents misuse of the product and has been tabbed by the vitamin D research community as contributing to vitamin D deficiency.
  • SPF 15 blocks almost all vitamin D production, and individuals with dark skin need up to 10 times more UVB exposure as light skinned individuals to make the same amount of vitamin D. “It is so patently clear that any one-size-fits-all recommendation of how much sunlight you need to make vitamin D is impossible, and yet Cosmo and its giant cosmeceutical partners continue to try to ram that recommendation down people’s throats. It clearly benefits Cosmo’s advertisers who sponsored the editorial piece to continue to peddle that misinformation.”

Vitamin D research continues to amass to make that case that intended human vitamin D levels can only be achieved naturally when individuals get regular sun exposure. Diet and supplements are unnatural alternatives. The vitamin D community now recommends 1,000 to 4,000 international units of vitamin D daily — 10 times the amount of vitamin D present in a glass of whole milk. Some vitamin D experts call for even higher levels.Smart Tan believes sunscreen is a good product with an intelligent usage: Sunburn prevention on days when sunburn is a possibility. Smart Tan has called for cosmeceutical companies and beauty magazines to alter their position on daily use of sunscreen.