One of the unconventional ways to soak in the sunrays is to resort to UV-emitting bulbs and vitamin d lamps. Mostly, people who are at a high risk of vitamin D deficiency choose this method for getting their daily dose of vitamin D. This may include people who are not able to absorb sunlight (known as malabsorption) or those who can’t get the required quantity in winter months, says Michael F. Holick, Ph.D., M.D., and a leading researcher in the field of vitamin D.
The lamps are similar to tanning beds, but smaller. Dr.Holick says, “The lamp is only about 24 inches by about 16 inches.”
The fluorescent sunlamp produces high-intensity UV (ultraviolet) rays that activate vitamin D production in the skin. The regular fluorescent lamps do not serve the purpose because they are not of high enough intensity.
There is a risk of cancer attached to the usage of these lamps and hence to reduce the risk and minimize skin damage, the lamp has a timer that limits the exposure to only 5 minutes, and it is suggested that you switch the parts of your body exposed to avoid tanning and burning. Other sunlamps do not essentially produce the UV spectrum that enhances the production of vitamin D in the body.
In winter, at many latitudes, people run low on vitamin D because of limited sun exposure (especially if they live in northern latitudes), because few foods contain vitamin D. UV rays, which is responsible for your body making vitamin D, are not present at such latitudes. Hence, in the winters, it is difficult to make vitamin D if you’re living north of about 35 degrees latitude. Despite this inadequacy, it has been found out that UV lamps are helpful in getting the required amount of vitamin D in the body. It has been noted by Dr. Holick that UV lamps help in increasing or maintaining vitamin D levels in healthy, fair-skinned people as well as people who have difficulty with oral absorption, like those that happen in cystic fibrosis and inflammatory bowel disease.
A much-less expensive system for a person who wants to buy a device for their own home is Sperti’s FDA approved vitamin D lamp. However, UV lamps can burn the skin so they’re best for those with a doctor’s recommendation.