According to new research, sunscreen does not prevent the production of vitamin D in most people.
Several studies have suggested that it could contribute to a lack of mineral production, but three separate studies have concluded that its use has no impact on vitamin D levels in most people.
Vitamin D helps regulate helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, says the NHS.
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The body creates it in response to the ultraviolet (UV) rays of the sun. However, UV rays are a major cause of skin cancer, one of the most prevalent cancers in the world.
To study the impact of sunscreen on vitamin D production, a study conducted by researchers at King's College London divided the participants into four groups.
Three of the groups spent a week in Tenerife, Spain, where the UV index is very high.
During the trip, 20 participants received a broad-spectrum sunscreen – offering a balance between UVA and UVB protection – with a sun protection factor of 15, offering UVB protection and high protection against UVA.
In the meantime, another 20 people received a broad-spectrum sunscreen that also had a SPF of 15 but low protection against UVA.
Both groups learned to use their sunscreens properly to achieve the indicated SPF.
In a third group, 22 participants used their own sunscreen without instructions on how to apply it.
Blood samples were collected from all participants 24 hours before and up to 48 hours after the holidays.
Meanwhile, a 17-person control group did not make the trip and stayed in Poland.
The study found that SPF 15 sunscreens applied to a thickness sufficient to prevent sunburns allowed a "very significant" improvement in vitamin D levels.
In addition, the broad spectrum sunscreen has also allowed higher synthesis of vitamin D than a sunscreen protector against UVA. It is thought that this is due to the fact that the former can transmit a little more UVB than the latter.
The lead author of the study, Professor Antony Young, of King's College London, said about the study: "Sunscreens can prevent sunburn and skin cancer, A week of perfect weather in Tenerife showed that sunscreens, even optimally used to prevent sunburn, allowed an excellent synthesis of vitamin D. "
A second study examined 75 published experimental studies, field trials, and observational studies published between 1970 and 2017 regarding the effects of sunscreen on vitamin D production.
The study's researchers, from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Australia and the Australian National University, found that experimental studies (using artificial light sources in a laboratory) corroborated earlier theories of which the use of sunscreen could affect vitamin D.
However, they stated that evidence from field trials and observational studies – which had been conducted using natural sunlight – suggest that the risk is weak.
The last who reported a link between vitamin D levels and sunscreen application most often found a positive relationship.
Holly Barber of the British Association of Dermatologists added that the results of the studies are "very encouraging".
"It was found that the risk of vitamin D deficiency due to sunscreen was low and that it was therefore unlikely that it outweighed the benefits of sunscreen for prevention of skin cancer, "she said.
She added, "More research is needed on SPF 30 and higher sunscreens because we recommend these people use this optimal protection in real-life situations, and people with darker skin have a higher risk of developing skin scarring. Vitamin D and a lower risk of skin cancer, so it is necessary to continue research to see how these results translate for people with dark skin. "
The results of the studies, which should be published in the British Journal of Dermatology (BJD), are supported by a systematic review of 75 articles on sunscreens and vitamin D that were also recently published by the journal.