Every day a variety of internet searches find this site asking if light therapy lamps and light boxes produce Vitamin D. Short answer: No.
You don’t want to get Vitamin D from a light box
There are two key parts of the winter blues puzzles tangled together here – light therapy and Vitamin D production.
Light therapy is exposure to bright artificial light to mimic the sun, usually very early in the morning, and is used to treat seasonal depression and other conditions.
Vitamin D is produced by the ultraviolet rays (UV) in sunlight on our bare, exposed skin. Studies are increasingly showing that Vitamin D is a key factor for virtually every organ and system in the human body. Every one of our cells has Vitamin D receptors. Because of the lack of winter sunshine, low Vitamin D levels are linked with seasonal depression.
UV rays create Vitamin D
The UV radiation from the sunlight is what makes your skin tan and has been linked to skin cancer and eye damage. UV rays have no place in light therapy. All light therapy lamps and bulbs produced by reputable manufacturers filter out UV rays to avoid eye damage.
UV rays damage your eyes
No light therapy lamp, white light or blue light, should produce UV rays. And because all-blue light has been implicated in long-term retinal damage, I recommend not using an all-blue light for light therapy.
That leaves you with four choices to get enough Vitamin D
- From sunlight – Many medical experts now say daily, short sun exposure on bare skin can help most people prevent Vitamin deficiency. Caucasian skin naturally produces 10,000 IU in about 20-30 minutes summer sun exposure – without sunblock.
- From a tanning bed – To give you a tan, tanning beds emit high amounts of UV radiation. Be careful – people who use tanning beds are 1.5 to 2.5 times more likely to develop skin cancer.
- From food – Some foods, like milk, cereal and orange juice, are fortified with Vitamin D.
- From supplements – Vitamin D3 cholecalciferol is the form produced by our body with sun exposure. The debate about how much Vitamin D is enough continues.
Bottom line: Use your light therapy lamp to reset your body clock AND get the Vitamin D you need.
The home study course, The LightDiet: Using Light to Beat the Cloudy Day, Rainy Day, Winter Day Blues, teaches you everything you need to understand and use light therapy. Subscribe to the advance list (top right) to learn about the pre-release discount.
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