Q: With the increasing evidence for the benefits of vitamin D, is there any artificial light that will give me the benefits of sunshine in making vitamin D?


Answer :While not even the most avid vitamin D advocate suggests broiling yourself in a tanning booth, it is true that people in northern climes cant get enough sunshine during winter to trigger the bodys natural ability to make vitamin D. The easiest alternative is to take vitamin D supplements. But if you prefer to bring the sun indoors, youll need a special kind of medium-pressure lamp that puts out the UVB rays the body uses in making vitamin D.Many so-called sunlamps (such as those designed to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder) and tanning salons use only high-pressure lamps that produce UVA light but not UVB-increasing your risk for skin cancer without producing vitamin D. The US Food and Drug Administration has sanctioned some sunlamps made by Sperti (, 859-331-0800), such as the KDB D/UV lamp, as a vitamin-D producer for people who have trouble absorbing vitamin D from food, such as those with gastric bypass surgery, Crohns disease or cystic fibrosis.

There is no official recommendation for UVB exposure, from the sun or sunlamps, although a review article last year in the New England Journal of Medicineconcluded, Exposure of arms and legs for 5 to 30 minutes (depending on time of day, season, latitude and skin pigmentation) between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. twice a week is often adequate. The nonprofit Vitamin D Council says 15 to 20 minutes of noonday sun exposure (or when the sun is high enough in the sky so that your shadow is shorter than you are), twice a week, will give most fair-skinned people in most of the continental US enough of the vitamin. If using a sunlamp, 10 to 15 minutes twice a week is probably plenty, and you should apply sunscreen to protect your face, since facial skin makes very little vitamin D.


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