The American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) recently issued a position statement on vitamin D, drawing on the scientific literature to support its recommendation for safely obtaining an adequate amount of this vitamin. The Academy recommends that the public obtain vitamin D from nutritional sources and dietary supplements, and not from unprotected exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun or indoor tanning devices, as UV radiation is a known risk factor for the development of skin cancer.
"Vitamin D is essential for optimal health, and the medical literature supports safe ways to get it -- a healthy diet which incorporates foods naturally rich in vitamin D, vitamin D-fortified foods and beverages, and vitamin D supplements," stated dermatologist C. William Hanke, MD, MPH, FAAD, president of the American Academy of Dermatology. "And, according to the medical literature, unprotected exposure to UV radiation from sunlight (natural) or indoor tanning devices (artificial) is not safe. Individuals who intentionally expose themselves to UV radiation for vitamin D are putting their health at risk for developing skin cancer."
The Academy further recommends that individuals who are concerned about their vitamin D levels seek a physician's guidance about safe options to obtain vitamin D. The Academy recommends physicians use the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine guidelines for vitamin D as a standard reference for advising patients on proper minimum intake levels, as no clinical trials to date have unequivocally established the amount of vitamin D needed to decrease the risk of certain cancers or other chronic conditions. Yet the Academy advises that a higher dose of supplementation for individuals with known risk factors for vitamin D deficiency should be considered.
The Academy recommends that when you are enjoying yourself outdoors, be smart by taking steps to protect yourself from UV exposure -- seek shade whenever possible, wear sunscreen and cover up with a wide-brimmed hat, long sleeves, pants and sunglasses. Also, avoid tanning beds.
For more information about skin cancer, please visit the SkinCancerNet section on http://www.skincarephysicians.com, a Web site developed by dermatologists that provides the public with up-to-date information on the treatment and management of disorders of the skin, hair and nails.
Headquartered in Schaumburg, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology (Academy), founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 15,000 physicians worldwide, the Academy is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the Academy at 1-888-462-DERM (3376) or http://www.aad.org.