Vitamin D and sunbeds
Vitamin D is essential for good bone health and for most people sunlight is the most important source of vitamin D. The time required to make sufficient vitamin D varies according to a number of environmental, physical and personal factors, but is typically short and less than the amount of time needed for skin to redden and burn.
Enjoying the sun safely, while taking care not to burn, can help to provide the benefits of vitamin D without unduly raising the risk of skin cancer.
Supplements and specific foods can help to maintain sufficient levels of vitamin D, particularly in people at risk of deficiency. However, there is still a lot of uncertainty around what levels qualify as “optimal” or “sufficient”, how much sunlight different people need to achieve a given level of vitamin D, whether vitamin D protects against chronic diseases such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes, and the benefits and risks of widespread supplementation (Consensus statement, 2010, BAD).
Many sunbed outlets are advertised as enhancing vitamin D synthesis. The usefulness of vitamin D synthesis is dependent up on the level of UVA emissions. UVA is generally the prominent emission from sun beds. Evidence suggests that although vitamin D levels can increase with sunbed use, a plateau is reached after a few sessions (Thieden et al, 2008), so there is no benefit to deliberate prolonged sun exposure. Vitamin D can be supplied naturally and nutritionally with out the risks. There is evidence that a small amount of exposure to sunlight is sufficient to maintain a healthy level of vitamin D.
You do not need a sunbed to provide you with vitamin D, you do get enough from normal daylight, even if it is a cloudy day.
Sunbeds are NOT a safe alternative to tanning outdoors!