Tanning salon boosts image with link to vitamin D

On Feb. 27, 2006, the Competition Bureau of Canada signed an agreement with Fabutan Corporation. This agreement allowed for tanning salons to advertise that vitamin D can be maintained or increased in an artificial tanning session, in which the tanning equipment incorporates UB/V irradiance.

According to Health Canada, people can derive vitamin D from sun exposure or from foods and dietary supplements. Intake of vitamin D can assist immune function, reduction of inflammation and the effects on cell proliferation or deterioration.

Health Canada also warns, however, taking too much vitamin D can cause nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, weakness and weight loss.

Tanya Braham, owner of tanning salon, Eternal Tan, said that using tanning beds to get vitamin D is safe because it’s natural.

“When taking a supplement you can actually overdose on it and that can result in people getting flu-like symptoms,” she said.

Braham said customers should ask questions when choosing a tanning salon. They should inquire about the types of bulbs used, the maximum tanning time and how often to use the tanning beds.

“Always ensure the bulbs being used are UVB and not UVA,” she said. “UVA bulbs are considered high pressure which is what causes the skin to burn and become damaged.”

Maria Rengifo has been using tanning beds for three years. She is happy to hear that tanning salons are getting positive assessment rather than negative.

“I think using a tanning bed is safer than being out in the sun,” she said. “And if you go to a good salon, I think the risk of skin damage is low. I’ve been tanning for a while and there are no wrinkles or weird marks on my skin.”

Joey Rathwell, media relations officer for Health Canada is not convinced that the use of tanning beds can ever be safe.

“Health Canada believes that the risks presented from exposure to the intense UV rays from tanning beds and other tanning equipment far outweigh the benefits,” she said. “Exposure to ultraviolet A and B radiation can cause sunburn, damage to your eyes… and an increased risk of skin cancer.”

Tanning in Canada is not currently regulated, but the agreement between Fabutan and the Competition Bureau has paved the way for other tanning salons, such as Eternal Tan, to advertise their services. They claim that tanning beds are effective in delivering vitamin D to the body.

Eternal Tan owner Tanya Braham welcomes the contact with federal regulators.

“I have nothing against (government regulation) because a lot of tanning salons don’t care. Most of the time it’s all about the money,” she said.