I suppose you know by now that tanning is the best way to make Vitamin D, but does also Vitamin D make you tan?
Many visitors arrive to thetanningguru.com after having searched in Google for the answer to the question: “Does Vitamin D make you tan?”.
My spontaneous thought when I see that question is that we are dealing with a mix-up between cause and effect.
It is a little bit like asking if the melting ice around the North-Pole is causing the global warming (if there is one).
So the answer to the question if Vitamin D makes you tan is most likely: No, vitamin D does not make you tanned but tanning makes you make Vitamin D and that you can get a tan in this process.
UPDATE!During the one and a half year since I wrote this article, many of the “vitamin D gurus” are reporting about their clients experiencing considerably less risk of burning when they go into the sun having a high level of vitamin D compared to when they were deficit in vitamin D. One scientific study also shows that topically applied vitamin D on the surface of the skin, helps to prevent against erythema (i.e. Burning).One of the vitamin D experts that report about less risk of burning among his John Cannell, the director of the Vitamin D Council. You can buy his book: “Athlete's Edge – Faster Quicker Stronger with Vitamin D” from Amazon. And no, you do not have to be an athlete to read this book!
However, since Vitamin D is a main contributor to your body's immune defences, Vitamin D do have some positive effects when tanning.
For example, Vitamin D helps to fight the free radicals that come from tanning and it is proved that high levels of Vitamin diminish the risk for most cancers, also skin-cancer.
The time needed for UVB-light from the sun or from the lamps in a tanning bed to produce your daily dose of vitamin D is much shorter than what is needed for you to get a tan (or a sunburn).
Unfortunately most people do not know how they can find the precious UVB-rays that have so many positive health effects.
Some health-authorities (like the Dutch Cancer-council) have recognized that their previous sun-avoidance advice was counterproductive to their purpose. Most others, still preach the mantra invented by the sun-scare industry: “Apply sunscreen whenever outdoors and stays away from sunlight in the middle of the day.”.
UVB-rays in sunlight reach the earth only when the sun is higher than 50 degrees above the horizon (that is a little bit higher than in the middle between the horizon and straight above your head) and the sky must be clear (no clouds or pollution). The right time for healthy tanning is therefore in the middle of the day.
Sun-protection cosmetics on your skin makes it impossible for the UVB-rays to do their job. You have to be a short time in the sun every day withoutsun-protection in order to get vitamin d in a natural way.
Another challenge for the UVB-seeker is that for most of the time of the year (at least for many of us) the sun never gets above 50 degrees.
The tanning-lamp emitting approximately the same spectra of UV-light like the sun, is therefore an invention well worth a Nobel-prize.
A tanning bed, equipped with low-pressure lamps, is a good substitute to the sun and available at your leisure. Look for a tanning bed equipped with lamps with at least 5% (for USA) or 2.5% (for Europe) UVB/UVA ratio. Of course, and since you tan mainly for health through vitamin d, the time in the tanning-bed can be kept shorter than if your goal is to get the dark skin-colour.
The risk of using tanning beds is much much exaggerated by the sun-scare lobby. All studies of vitamin D show that moderate and regular visits to a tanning bed only have positive effect on your health.
If you keep your skin moisturized and use tanning lotions based on Aloe Vera or coconut-milk,with a lot of silicone and other active skincare ingredients, it will stay young and smooth.
Here is a good post in order to find out the details of how to tan.
So even if the answer to “does vitamin d make you tan” is no, tanning is the best, safest, and only natural way to get your vitamin d.