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UVB therapy vs supplementation for vitamin D deficiency

Posted on: March 7, 2013   by  Vitamin D Council


A recent Swedish study reports that narrowband UVB therapy may be a more effective treatment for vitamin D deficiency than supplementation.

Patients with a vitamin D deficiency who were underwent 6 weeks of full-body UVB phototherapy had significantly greater increases in vitamin D status compared with those who supplemented, reported Morten Bogh, MD, PhD, during a poster session at the American Academy of Dermatology meeting this past weekend.

Dr Bogh was quick to point out that most tanning beds generate mainly UVA radiation, “which doesn’t stimulate vitamin D production in the body the way UVB does.”

He advises against tanning as a source of vitamin D if oral supplementation is a viable option.

“Nevertheless, it might be a useful alternative for certain groups of patients, especially those with malabsorption problems or noncompliant patients,” he explained.

The researchers randomized 32 patients to receive either full-body UVB radiation three times per week or supplementation with 1600 IU of vitamin D and 1000 mg calcium daily.

Dr Bogh and colleagues found that patients in the UVB group had significantly greater improvements in vitamin D status, rising from 7.7 ng/ml to 30 ng/ml, than those in the supplement group with an increase from 9.3 ng/ml to 24.2 ng/ml.

The researchers warn that 1-5% of UV tanning beds use UVB radiation, so if you use tanning beds to get your daily dose of vitamin D make sure you know which bed you’re using.


Fiore K. UVB exposure may boost low vitamin D. MedPage Today. March 5, 2013.

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