Vitamin D :: Boost Vitamin D intake through diet and supplements

Based on data reviewed by a consensus conference convened by the American Academy of Dermatology Association (Academy) to examine the relationship between sunlight, tanning booths and vitamin D, renowned medical experts agreed that increasing exposure to either natural or artificial ultraviolet (UV) light should not be recommended as a supplemental source of vitamin D.

However, the conference experts noted that there is growing evidence demonstrating that many people in the U.S. – particularly older adults, women, and darker-skinned individuals – may have vitamin D levels below those necessary for optimum health.

Speaking today at the Academy’s Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Month news conference, dermatologist Vincent A. DeLeo, M.D., associate professor of clinical dermatology, Columbia University, New York, N.Y., and chairman of the department of dermatology at both St. Luke’s Roosevelt and Beth Israel Hospital Centers, New York, N.Y., presented findings from the conference white paper published in the May 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology reviewing the data on sunlight, tanning booths and vitamin D.

“It is known that there is a high risk of developing skin cancer from repeated and intentional ultraviolet B exposure to boost vitamin D levels; the latter can be safely achieved by nutritional supplements,” said Dr. DeLeo. “Skin cancer is an epidemic in this country and recommending increased UV exposure with claims that sunlight somehow promotes good health is highly irresponsible.”

The benefits of vitamin D are well documented and include, most notably, improved bone health and fracture prevention, better muscle health and a reduced risk of falling in older individuals. While these benefits are particularly important for older adults who are at risk to developing osteoporosis, research suggests that this age group is most prone to vitamin D deficiencies and requires the highest recommended daily intake.

Currently, the recommended intakes of vitamin D by age group are 200 International Units per day (IU/d) for young adults, 400 IU/d for those aged 51 to 70 years, and 600 IU/d for those over age 70. There is evidence however that these recommended levels are too low for optimum health. Without supplemental dosages of vitamin D, experts warn that older individuals are not getting enough of the nutrient they need through incidental sun exposure or foods.

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