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New Sunscreen Regulations & Vitamin D

You’ve probably been reading or listening to recent news reports about new regulations in the sunscreens industry. It’s recommended we put on sunscreen every time we venture outside – especially during the summer when the sun’s rays are at their strongest. By stopping the sun’s rays from getting absorbed by our skin, we’re also blocking our body’s natural source of vitamin D. It’s hard to know what sunscreen to buy and how to make sure we’re getting enough D when blocking the sun’s rays. How will the new rules affect the sunscreen we use on a daily basis? And how can we ensure we’re getting enough Vitamin D when we’re using sunscreen?

The Food and Drug Administration recently announced that they are requiring sun screen makers to make changes to their bottles and labels to help clear up consumer confusion. They’ve ordered all creams and lotions to enhance labeling by next summer.

FDA sunscreen changesWhat Are The New Rules?

Currently, every bottle sold today must be labeled with its SPF (Sun Protection Factor), which tells users how much protection it offers against UVB rays. Under the new rules, the SPF number must be 15 or higher. The sun’s UVB rays cause sunburn as well as skin redness. It also plays a key part in the development of skin cancer.

What the SPF number doesn’t tell users is its protection against UVA rays. Less intense than UVBs, UVA rays have a role in skin aging and wrinkling. Recent research shows UVAs can also contribute to the development of skin cancers. UVAs are the dominating tanning rays. And tanning damages the skin’s DNA, which can potentially cause cancer. The FDA’s new sunscreen regulations will have to show that UVA protection increases as the SPF level increases.

Other new rules include having a drug facts label on the product. Just like the drug facts boxes seen on OTC medications, these labels will clearly list every ingredient in the creams and lotions. They can also no longer claim to offer protection beyond two hours and cannot claim they’re water or sweat proof without indicating the amount of time they can provide protection.

What About Vitamin D?

One thing the FDA seems to have left out during their interviews with the press over the new regulations is vitamin D. The natural way to get vitamin D is by sun exposure. Vitamin D is needed to maintain strong and healthy bones. It’s recommended that both children and adults get at least 400 IU of vitamin D each day. However some experts are recommending up to 2000 IUs daily.

The easiest way to get vitamin D is from being outside in the sun. Our bodies manufacture D in response to sunlight exposure. It’s estimated your body can make up to 10,000 IU in as little as 10-12 minutes during peak sunlight in July. But sunscreens block our skin from absorbing the sun’s rays in order to make vitamin D.

Are You Getting Enough?

So how can you get the vitamin D you need when it’s recommended you lather on the sunscreen every time you go outside? While it is possible to get vitamin D from our diet (it’s found naturally in fish while milk, cereals and other foods are fortified with D), it’s easy to get the D you need with supplements. They are a great way to make sure you and your children are getting the vitamin D needed, without increasing the risks from unprotected sun exposure. 


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