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Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Dec;80(6):1645-9.

Tanning is associated with optimal vitamin D status (serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration) and higher bone mineral density.

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  • 1Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory and the Section of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Nutrition, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA.



Vitamin D is made in the skin on exposure to solar radiation, and it is necessary to optimal skeletal health. Subjects who use a tanning bed that emits ultraviolet B radiation (290-315 nm) are likely to have higher 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations than do subjects who do not regularly use a tanning bed.


The first objective of this study was to ascertain whether subjects who regularly use a tanning bed have higher 25(OH)D concentrations than do subjects who do not use a tanning bed. The second objective was to ascertain whether higher 25(OH)D concentrations correlated positively with bone mineral density.


This cross-sectional analysis examined 50 subjects who used a tanning bed at least once a week and 106 control subjects. Each subject gave a blood specimen for measurement of serum 25(OH)D and parathyroid hormone concentrations. Each subject underwent bone mineral density testing of the hip and spine.


Subjects who used a tanning bed had serum 25(OH)D concentrations 90% higher than those of control subjects (115.5 +/- 8.0 and 60.3 +/- 3.0 nmol/L, respectively; P <0.001). Subjects who used a tanning bed had parathyroid hormone concentrations 18% lower than those of control subjects (21.4 +/- 1.0 and 25.3 +/- 0.8 pg/mL, respectively; P=0.01). Tanners had significantly higher BMD and z scores at the total hip than did nontanners.


The regular use of a tanning bed that emits vitamin D-producing ultraviolet radiation is associated with higher 25(OH)D concentrations and thus may have a benefit for the skeleton.

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