December 13th, 2016

// Study Urges Public Health to Embrace Sunlight Benefits

Study Urges Public Health to Embrace Sunlight Benefits

Just weeks after research warned Canadians that vitamin D deficiency was costing Canadian healthcare $12.5B annually by leading to a higher risk of developing life-threatening illnesses, a new study from the US is supporting the Canadian research and challenging conventional sun exposure advice. The study calls for public health organizations to re-evaluate their current message of sun avoidance and to promote non-burning sun exposure for vitamin D and other health benefits.

The recently published study, written by one of the most qualified and diverse groups of researchers in the fields of pigment cell research, photobiology, melanoma research, dermatology and vitamin D, “The Risks and Benefits of Sun Exposure 2016” by David G. Hoel, Marianne Berwick, Frank R. de Gruijl and Michael F. Holick, has found that insufficient sun exposure is an emerging public health risk.

Published in Dermato-Endocrinology, the report says that the current state of the science behind the risks and benefits of sun exposure suggests that public health advice should be changed to recommend that all men, women and children accumulate sufficient non-burning sun exposure to maintain their vitamin D blood levels at 75 nmol/L (30 ng/ml) especially in northern climates. The research goes further, reporting about the positive benefits of vitamin D and outlines how many other photoproducts produced by sunlight exposure are beneficial to our health.

In Canada, lab tests relied upon by doctors, consider the sufficient vitamin D blood level range to be between 75 to 150 nmol/L or higher in some provinces. Currently 65% of Canadians, or 2 out of every 3, do not meet the 75 nmol/L vitamin D blood level and have insufficient vitamin D levels.

“The results of our study show that to live a healthier life, it’s important for North Americans to increase their vitamin D levels through non-burning sun exposure,” says Dr. Michael Holick, Scientific Advisor for the Vitamin D Society and Professor of Medicine at Boston University Medical Center. “Insufficient sun exposure has become a major public health problem, demanding an immediate change in the current sun-avoidance public health advice. Generating vitamin D with non-burning exposure to the sun every day or under artificial UVB sources can help prevent the development of serious diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis and others. Remember that the UV index must be above 3 and your shadow shorter than you are to produce vitamin D from the sun.”

A new Canadian study reported that increasing vitamin D intake could spare 23,000 Canadians premature deaths annually and save Canada $12.5 billion in healthcare spending and associated costs. The study found that Canadians vitamin D levels have been dropping  due to lower sunlight exposure putting more people at risk of life-threatening illnesses.

“More and more research is being published urging individuals to increase their vitamin D levels through non-burning sun exposure,” says Perry Holman, Executive Director of the Vitamin D Society. We need to start looking at UV exposure differently and embrace the benefits while controlling for the risks of overexposure.”

Canadians can get their vitamin D levels checked by their physicians, or online, through a simple 25(OH)D blood test to ensure they aren’t deficient.

About the Vitamin D Society:

The Vitamin D Society is a Canadian non-profit group organized to increase awareness of the many health conditions strongly linked to vitamin D deficiency; encourage people to be proactive in protecting their health and have their vitamin D levels tested annually; and help fund valuable vitamin D research. The Vitamin D Society recommends people achieve and maintain optimal 25(OH)D blood levels between 100 – 150 nmol/L (Can) or 40-60 ng/ml (USA).

To learn more about vitamin D, please visit


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