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Sunscreens Block Vitamin D

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Q. Does sunscreen interfere with vitamin D levels? My doctor diagnosed me as seriously deficient in vitamin D even though I take calcium with D every day. I wear sunscreen whenever I go outside and wonder whether that could be a factor.

A. Sunscreen hinders the skin's ability to help create vitamin D. The amount you get from your supplement (typically 400 IU) is probably not adequate to overcome a deficiency. You will either need to spend 10 to 15 minutes in the sun without sunscreen a few times a week or take a vitamin D supplement that provides a higher dose (closer to 2,000 IU of vitamin D3).

One reader reported the following: "I moved from the sunny Mediterranean region to overcast Washington state. I gradually started to fall apart with body aches and pains and depression. Since starting 2,000 to 4,000 IUs of vitamin D daily I feel a lot better. The aches and pains are much less of a problem and my mood is much better."

We offer more in-depth information on how to get enough of this vitamin in our Guide to Vitamin D Deficiency.

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My doctor recommends approximately 1000 IU of D3 for every 10 ng / blood unit desired. I run about 50 ng/ml (I'm guessing at the units but the numerical value is right), take 5000 IU/day, and get a reasonable amount of un-screened sun exposure.

I use sunblock religiously and do not expose myself to any full sun. I use 1000IU Vit D daily and my serum Vit D is normal. But if you block you do need to add supplemental Vit D.

Is there any danger in taking 2,000 to 3,000 IU of vitamin D per day for an extended period?

PEOPLE'S PHARMACY RESPONSE: THIS SHOULD NOT BE A PROBLEM FOR MOST PEOPLE. IF THERE IS A QUESTION, VITAMIN D BLOOD LEVELS SHOULD BE TESTED.

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