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sunrunner's avatar

How harmful is using a UVB-emitting tanning booth for 2 minutes, 3 times per week to maintain healthy vitamin D levels?

Asked by sunrunner (117 points ) November 3rd, 2010

Recently diagnosed with a very low vitamin D level, which I know is being linked to a number disorders as of late: viz., depression, heart disease, impotence, insomnia, cancer, and multiple sclerosis. I also know, just from experience, that I’m much happier, more relaxed, and can fall asleep easier in the summer, when I am synthesizing vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. So, I read a lot of studies, papers, and books on the subject, and apparently indoor tanning, if done using a UVB-emitting bed and conducted in 2-minute sessions, 3 times per week, is believed by several doctors to be a good alternative to actual sun exposure during the winter months for denizens of northern-latitude cities, and more effective in maintaining healthy vitamin D levels than supplementation through diet (e.g., fish) or daily vitamin D-3 pills. One researcher calculated that 2 minutes in a tanning bed is the equivalent of 20 minutes in the sun, and the 12–15 minutes tanning salons recommend is the equivalent of 2 to 2.5 hours in the sun, which is perhaps why so many tanning bed users have gotten melanoma.

I’m not interested in tanning to achieve a tan, rather only to maintain vitamin D levels during the winter months. I’m wondering if anyone ever used tanning beds in such a brief duration to do this, as well as how dangerous or wrinkle-inducing this could be. Thanks.

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5 Answers

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skfinkel's avatar

Why not just take the very effective pills of D3? They work. No tanning necessary.

LuckyGuy's avatar

UV-B – is dangerous. Compared with UV-A it does about 10x the DNA damage for the identical exposure. Cornea damage can occur in minutes even with exposures to 4 Watts at a distance of 1 meter. Note that 2 minute exposure.
I would never intentionally expose myself to it. But if I had to I’d:
1) Wear protective glasses all the time. Even when it is off. Do not look at the bulbs unprotected even for an instant.
2) Make sure the timers are working correctly – make sure again! 2 minutes means 2 mnutes.
3) Make sure the distance is set correctly. If the bulbs are linear tubes figure the energy drops of with the square of the distance. If it is a high energy point source it drops off with the cube of the distance. If you have a big belly that is close, you will be exposing it to huch higer levels than parts further away.

Danger! You are playing with fire here. But lots have people play with Zippos every day and don’t set their houses on fire.
Be very, very careful. I use this stuff in my work and it scares me.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

All you need for vitamin D supplement is fresh mushrooms. They are like bites of sunshine. In fact, if you set the mushrooms in the sunlight, gills up, for 60 seconds, they increase their vitamin D content by 10,000 times. No lie, mushrooms are The Super Sunlight Food

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