At CLEO, we’ve always stressed the importance of using sunscreen or sunblock to prevent sun damage and skin cancer.

However, a doctor in Zhejiang, China, claims that excessive use of sunblock, resulting in a lack of vitamin D, could be the cause of a 20-year-old’s fractured ribs.

The doctor claimed that her low levels of vitamin D caused her bones to be fragile.

Also read: The Real Differences Between Sunscreen And Sunblock

What really happened

According to China Press, Xiao Mei (not her real name) recounted how she had pulled out a straw mat to sleep on to combat the heat. Despite doing so, she suffered cold-like symptoms that very night.

Her doctor first diagnosed her with a case of allergic asthma due to dust mites. However, three days later, she felt severe pain in the left side of the chest after three particularly violent coughs. The coughs had caused fractures in 10 of her ribs.

Further tests revealed that Xiao Mei’s bone density was significantly lower than the average of the female population. On top of a vitamin D deficiency, her blood calcium and blood phosphorus levels were found to be rather low.

As to why Xiao Mei would have such unusually low levels of vitamin D, her doctor believed her daily cosmetic habits were the cause. Afraid of becoming tan, she would regularly stay indoors and used SPF50 sunscreen all year round.

He explained that young people can absorb the amount of vitamin D required from the sun just by being under the sun for 20 minutes three times a week. Alternatively, the necessary vitamin can be found in eggs, milk and fish-related products.

Does this mean you should stop using sunscreen/sunblock?

While there are studies that support his claim, plenty others have found that normal usage of sunscreen has not been proven to decrease the cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D and that in the face of sun damage, one should not be discouraged from normal usage of sunscreens.

And if you’re really afraid of having a lack of vitamin D, eat these foods that are chock-full of vitamin D.

Looking for sunscreens/sunblocks? You might want to read these articles.

Images:, Unsplash
Text: Rainer Cheung / AsiaOne / November 2019
Additional text: Hidayah Idris