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Indoor Tanning Boosts Vitamin D Levels, Bone Density Posted on: 01/07/2005


A study published in recent nutrition journal shows tanning indoors raises a person’s vitamin D levels and bone mineral density, giving them a leg up in the fight against diseases such as cancer and osteoporosis. The findings were published in the December 2004 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Researchers, led by Dr. Michael Holick of the Boston University School of Medicine, sought to determine whether people who tan indoors have higher levels of vitamin D than those who don’t tan indoors, and whether higher levels of vitamin D correlates to higher bone mineral density (BMD).

The team tested 50 subjects who used a tanning bed at least once a week, and 106 subjects who did not. Each participant gave a blood sample to be tested for vitamin D levels and parathyroid hormone concentrations, and each underwent BMD testing of the hip and spine.

Subjects who used tanning beds were found to have vitamin D concentrations 90 percent higher and BMD scores “significantly higher” than non-tanners.

The study concludes: “The regular use of a tanning bed that emits vitamin D-producing ultraviolet radiation is associated with higher 25(OH)D [vitamin D] concentrations and thus may have a benefit for the skeleton.”

Vitamin D, which is rare in the diet, is produced in the body when skin is exposed to ultraviolet light. It is believed that healthy doses of the vitamin help the body ward off a host of maladies in the young and old--namely cancer, diabetes, hypertension and osteoporosis.

Holick discovered the active form of vitamin D in the 1970s and is widely regarded as the world’s leading expert on vitamin D. In 2004 he was given a $50,000 grant from the UV Foundation for Education and Research to continue his ongoing research concerning the potential health benefits of brief exposure to sunshine.

For more information on this most recent study, read the Science Corner column in the March 2005 issue of LOOKING FIT.

Source: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition via Reuters Health.


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