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Tanning Combats Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D is a fat soluble substance that is found in food and can be produced by the body after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun or an indoor tanning bed. Famed for its role in preventing rickets, a debilitating bone disease that at one point had been all but eradicated in the United States, vitamin D deficiency is actually making a comeback.

If vitamin D deficiency gains a foothold in the United States, it could have serious implications for health care consumers. According to a New York Times interview with Dr. Michael F. Holick, a professor of medicine, dermatology, physiology, and biophysics at the Boston University School of Medicine, adequate vitamin D levels can help prevent a range of diseases, including osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, and colon, prostate, and breast cancers.

So why is vitamin D deficiency rearing its ugly head again? There are a number of factors. Pollution and persistent cloud cover, for example, cut UV rays from the sun by as much as 60 percent. Weak winter sun in cold climates is insufficient to trigger vitamin D synthesis in the skin. And, believe it or not, the very sunscreen that absorbs UV rays to prevent your skin from burning also prevents your skin from producing vitamin D.

Fortunately, there are a host of simple things you can do to prevent vitamin D deficiency. For starters, make sure you eat a well-balanced diet. Many foods, such as milk and breakfast cereals are fortified with vitamin D. Vitamin D also occurs naturally in many foods, such as eggs and many types of fish. But no matter how well you eat or how many multi-vitamins you take, there is no diet that can provide adequate levels of vitamin D.

Exposure to UV rays is indisputably the best source of vitamin D. The UV rays emitted by tanning bed lamps used in commercial tanning beds and residential tanning beds is a good solution for many people who may be too busy to get outside regularly or who live in cold, smoggy, or persistently cloudy areas.

The tanning bed lamps used in commercial tanning beds at indoor tanning salons can provide enough UV exposure in two or three quick visits each week to maintain healthy vitamin D levels. If you prefer tanning in the privacy of your own home, an affordable home tanning bed or canopy may be a better choice for you as long as you follow the manufacturer's instructions for safe and prudent use.

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