Does Chronic Sunscreen Use Reduce Vitamin D Production to Insufficient Levels?

M. Norval; H.C. Wulf


The British Journal of Dermatology. 2009;161(4):732-736. 

In This Article


Although sunscreens could almost entirely block the solar-induced production of cutaneous previtamin D3 on theoretical grounds or if administered under strictly controlled conditions, in practice they have not been shown to do so, as summarized above. This is mainly due to inadequacies in their application to the skin and because people using sunscreens may also expose themselves to more sun than nonsunscreen users. However, as the advantageous properties of vitamin D for the prevention of an increasing list of diseases, including bone deformities, several autoimmune diseases and internal cancers and various viral infections, are becoming apparent, care should be taken not to limit sun exposure unduly in daily life. The adoption of what might be termed a sensible approach is advocated so that circulating 25(OH)D is maintained at what is considered a sufficient level. Diffey[50] and Thieden et al.[17] have shown that, for north European populations, much of the high dose-rate exposure which largely accounts for the harmful effects of solar UVR occurs during recreational activities, particularly during sunshine holidays. These represent the times when the use of sunscreen would be of most benefit rather than application daily all year round to all exposed skin.