Normal everyday exposure to the sun or the use of tanning beds has been found to be related to the higher bone mineral density and optimal status of vitamin D in the body.
Adequate exposure to limited amounts of ultraviolet radiation also produces the necessary amount of Vitamin D that the body needs to protect against heart disease, depression, cancer, strokes and osteoporosis.
In spite of this information, a lot of people find it difficult to get the needed amount of sunshine necessary for optimal health, and this difficulty increases more than ever during the winter months where the hours of daylight are fewer and outdoor activities are very rare. To address this situation, many individuals have looked to tanning beds to get their dose Vitamin D.
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There has been significant research done that shows tanning allows the body to naturally produce more Vitamin D than normal. This is good news because most people don’t eat a well balanced diet to get enough Vitamin D on their own. Even taking calcium supplements, most individuals are still lacking in this area.
Home tanning beds or residential tanning beds are growing more and more popular due to the reason that if you continue to go to a tanning salon for your regular tanning sessions, the cost of these visits when accumulated over a period of months or years will reach a rather staggering amount.
The UVB rays found in tanning lights offer radiation that helps the body to effectively use all the Vitamin D the person consumes as well. This is good news because some people consume as much of it as they can, yet their body doesn’t metabolize it well. It is also very good news for individuals who are lactose intolerant. They often struggle to find ways to get enough Vitamin D.
Tanning beds and vitamin d: an interesting relationship
Women seem to suffer from Vitamin D deficiencies more than men. This is thought to be due to the structure of their bodies and their chemical design. Women who are at risk of osteoporosis also need to make sure they get all the Vitamin D they can.
The key to effective Vitamin D increases from tanning is to do the tanning in moderation. Research has show than tanning 5 minutes per day is better for Vitamin D levels than tanning for 15 minutes every three days.
Commercially used tanning beds come in two varieties. The older versions of tanning beds emit two types of ultraviolet radiation – UVA and UVB radiation. These rays are the same that are emitted by the sun; however, it has been proven that the exposure to UVB rays can be damaging.
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With this information made public, most tanning bed manufacturers now makes tanning beds that emit more UVA rays and minimal or no UVB rays.
Ironically, while fair skinned people need more tanning time and session to get deep golden tan, darker skinned individuals need more Vitamin D. Many people don’t realize this information. They have the misconception that their level of tan is an indicator of the amount of Vitamin D they are getting from the tanning. There is no connection.
Use tanning beds with moderation
A certain level of self control should be practiced when using an indoor tanning bed. The common rule of thumb is to take time off your tanning schedule when you see that your tan already looks good.
While it does appear that tanning is a good way to help ensure you get enough Vitamin D, there is still plenty of debate going on about the adverse effects of tanning. Each individual will have to take the facts then make an informed decision about what is the right option for them personally.
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Study on Vitamin D and tanning beds
In a study conducted on Vitamin D by the Skin and Bone Research Laboratory and the Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Nutrition in the Department of Medicine in the Boston University School of Medicine, it was found that the habitual usage of tanning beds that emit ultraviolet radiation that produce Vitamin D is related to higher levels of 25(OH)D or serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D and has certain benefits on the human skeleton.
The study was conducted to determine whether people who used tanning beds regularly had higher 25(OH)D concentrations as compared to people who do not use tanning beds at all. Another aspect of the same study was focused on establishing whether high levels of 25(OH)D concentrations is positively correlated with the individual’s bone mineral density.
The exposure of the skin to solar radiation produces Vitamin D. Vitamin D is important in achieving the most favorable skeletal health. In the study conducted by the Bone Research Laboratory and the Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Nutrition in the Department of Medicine in the Boston University School of Medicine, it was found that the subjects who were exposed to UVB rays from tanning beds had higher concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D as compared to the subjects who were not using tanning beds.
The study conducted would show that yes, tanning beds can be a source of Vitamin D, however, it does not state that the use of tanning beds is a SAFE source of Vitamin D. The characteristics of the ultraviolet rays and its effects on the body come into play on the safety aspect of tanning beds. Indoor tanning is not a recommended source of vitamin D.
The sun, as well as tanning beds, gives off two types of ultraviolet rays, these are the UVA and UVB rays. Both types of rays are absorbed by the skin but in very different ways. UVA rays penetrate more into the skin’s deepest layers whereas the UVB rays can only penetrate the skin’s surface layers.
The two types of UV radiation are related to the health risks connected to too much exposure to the sun, a prime example of this is the development of certain types of skin cancer. On the other hand, the UVB type of radiation does aid in the production of vitamin D and is mostly accountable for the sun’s health benefits.
A twenty minute exposure to this type of radiation from the sun is enough to provide the individual his needed boost of Vitamin D to eliminate any deficiencies without bringing about any continuing harm to the skin.
Though UVB rays are responsible for the sun’s health benefits, this does not mean that the same holds true for tanning beds. Since too much exposure to UVB rays causes sunburns, most tanning salons are using the other type of ultraviolet radiation, which is the UVA radiation.
This results in having most tanning salons adjust their tanning beds to emit more UVA rays – approximately 95% of the radiation used. This adjustment does minimize the risk of sunburn and increases the effects of the tanning beds; however, it also dramatically decreases the levels of Vitamin D that is produced from the use of the tanning bed.
Remember, your safety should come first. The secret to safe exposure to ultraviolet radiation depends on control and moderation. Keep in mind that 15 or 20 minutes of staying under the sun in one day is enough for most Caucasians to maximize their levels of Vitamin D.
Tanning beds might have the benefit of giving you that golden color, but it is in no way a substitute for sunshine.