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Keywords:

  • skin;
  • sun protection factor;
  • sunburn;
  • sunscreens;
  • ultraviolet radiation;
  • vitamin D

Summary

Exposure to ultraviolet B radiation in sunlight provides the mechanism for more than 90% of the vitamin D production in most individuals. Concern has been expressed in recent years that the widespread use of sunscreens, particularly those with high sun protection factors, may lead to a significant decrease in solar-induced previtamin D3 in the skin, resulting in a vitamin D level which is considered insufficient for protection against a wide range of diseases. In this article the published evidence to support and to question this view is presented. It is concluded that, although sunscreens can significantly reduce the production of vitamin D under very strictly controlled conditions, their normal usage does not generally result in vitamin D insufficiency.