Researchers at Boston University Medical Center have developed a process for altering the ingredients in a sunscreen that does not impact its sun protection factor (SPF), but does allow the body to produce vitamin D. The findings, published in the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE, contributed to the production of a new sunscreen called Solar D.
Sun exposure is the major source of vitamin D for most children and adults worldwide. It is also recognized that vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency is a major health problem that afflicts approximately 40 percent of children and 60 percent of adults. However, because of concern for increased risk for skin cancer, widespread sunscreen use has been implemented. As a result, an SPF of 30 when properly applied, reduces the capacity of the skin to produce vitamin D by almost 98 percent.
According to the researchers there are several chemical compounds that are typically used in a sunscreen that efficiently absorbed varying wavelengths of UVB radiation. After removing certain ingredients the researchers compared Solar D, which has an SPF of 30, to a popular commercial sunscreen with the same SPF, and found Solar D allowed for up to 50 percent more production of vitamin D in-vitro. "Solar D was designed with compounds with differing filter compositions to maximize vitamin D production while maintaining its sun protection for reducing erythema or burning of the skin," says Michael F. Holick, Ph.D, MD, professor of medicine, physiology, and biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine and an endocrinologist at Boston Medical Center. Solar D is currently available in Australia and will be available in the U.S. summer 2016.