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Vitamin D from low-cost UVB lamps

Must wear glasses when near UVB - it can damage your eyes, perhaps within minutes.

Plastic contact lenses might pass UVB unless you have paid for UV blocking feature
Without UV blocking contacts you must wear glasses/ski goggles/whatever if you might look at the bulb
Light years2 - out of business - Update Jan 2019

Founder of VitaminDWiki bought a GE lamp fixture Jan 2019 and used UVB bulk from previous Light Year 2 fixture
Bulb is said to last 4,000 hours, so UVB bulb would cost 1 cent per hour
GE 16466 Basic 18 Inch Fluorescent Under Cabinet Amazon $13
G15T8E 15W Germicidal UV-B Fluorescent Lamp $25 including USPS to Seattle
OR    Ushio BC3286 USHIO G15T8E 14.7W Midrange UV Fluorescent Lamp Amazon $38
Put the bulb and fixture at top of a ladder (near the ceiling) and measured UVB at chest level 7 feet from bulb

Image Image

Similar reading with a direct view of the bulb and with reflector made with aluminim foil placed between the ceiling and the wall
8 IU per minute: UVB Meter calibrated for 20% of skin area for a 20 year-old (approximately face and hands)
500 IU per hour - 20 year-old
5,000 IU per 10-hour- 20-year-old
1200 IU per 10 hours for a senior (assumes 1/4 as much UVB created Vitamin D)
It appears that the celing paint, by itself, does not reflect any UVB
As expected, the plastic bulb cover on the GE fixture is opaque to UVB
UVB intensity at 2 feet across countertop
Countertop might reflect, so reading would be lower if no countertop
Intensity 85 @ 2 feet with reflector
5,300 IU per hour - 20-year-old, 1300 IU senior
Warning: Start with very short durations
Try one day at ~3 minutes, and see if get UV burn/pinking the following day
Double the time each day,until get slight burn/pinking the following day, then reduce the duration (perhaps by 1/3)
Note: Burning is more likely if:

  1. Low blood level of Vitamin D
  2. Same portion of skin had had UVB dose in past few days

Closeup photo of Al foil reflector

Claims that their UVB lamps put out very little UVA (i.e. not good for tanning, should be great for production of Vitamin D)
Made in US ( in business for over a decade), ships internationally (your choice: 110V vs 220V)
Suggests starting with just 2 minutes per use (day?), and building up to 5 minutes per use
Optional extras include : timer, glasses to stop UVB (recall that virtually all glass, both window and eye, block UVB)
Image 1 bulb lamp, wall mount 21" long, 1" wide $134 normal ballast

Comment by VitaminDWiki

This appears to be the lowest-cost source of indoor UVB
- 1 or 2 bulb models vs more expensive Sperti 4 bulb model, which includes timer, glasses, etc
Suspect that can have more than a single session per day - but each might be shorter
Spectra of G15T8E (added July 2014)

Update Oct 19, 2012: received the UVB lamp

$180 including shipping
3 pages of instructions include the following

  • UV Skin light is 100X more powerful than sunlight
    (Wonder: at noon, at equator, in summer?)
  • keep at least 2 feet away
  • initially: once per week, work up to 3 times per week
    (Suspect this is not necessary if you already have an adequate amount of vitamin D)
  • Never use with reflector or foil
    (wonder why? Perhaps because it increases the intensity even more?)
  • Always use with a time (not provided)
  • A session might consist of 30 seconds per side: front, right, back, left
  • keep away from temporary color dies of wallpaper, paint, fabric and carpet which could bleach
    (similar to bleaching of dies in sunlight - but apparently much faster)
  • they recommend that bulb will slowly dim at 300 hours and should be replaced.

There is a very very slight ozone smell when it is on.
Subset of the Table of session duration and frequency for single UVB bulb

Skin typeWeek 1 Week 3
1: always burn, never tan1 minute 1/week1 minute 3/week
3: sometimes burn, always tan2 minutes 2/week4 minutes 5/week
5: heavily pigmented
  Mediterranean or Native American
6 minutes 3/week6 minutes 5/week

Update Oct 26, 2012

Tried to measure how much UVB it has - without success.
All methods failed. It appears that they all measured/ or were calibrated on UVA from the sun and assumed that UVB would be proportional
This bulb does not have the natural UVA/UVB ratio, so the measurements do not apply

  1. Purchased the UV meter by Hawk (returned after discover that Hawk appears to measure UVA and UVB)
  2. Tried UV card which temporarily changes color when it senses UV - again, far less total UV (UVA + UVB) than normal

update Nov 11, 2012

Have ordered for an additional UVB bulb - compact fluorescent
Have ordered for a Vitamin D Meter: model 6.4 - which measures just UVB and converts it into IU per minute.
$185 including shipping
Will use the meter to test all 4 sources of UVB which I have purchased.
Mounted UVB fixture to the right of the bathroom cabinet
I find myself brushing & flossing teeth as well as shaving more often than in the past (getting vitamin D while doing it)
No tan expected, as the lamp has very little UVA
Investigating reflectors to increase the intensity of UVB which I get.
Note: Cannot use a mirror to increase intensity as the glass in the mirror absorbs UVB

update Nov 11, 2012

Used a piece of furnace duct as a reflector - which increased the intensity about 3X.

Paths of light with reflector

Guess that light intensity increased 3X with reflector

Measured UVB and IU

1000 IU @ 2 feet 5 minutes using Solar Meter converter
Parameter 3 Skin type 2
Parameter 4 Skin exposed 50%
Parameter 5 SPF 0%
Parameter 6 Facultative tan 0%
Parameter 7 Age: 66
   Their Excel converter Spreadsheet is attached at the bottom of this page

The 1000 IU is a best guess based on current research

More research is needed to see if any of the following might change the estimate

  1. Does the lack of UVA increase the vitamin D generated? Perhaps 8,000 IU instead of 1,000 IU
    UVB lamp produced 8X as much vitamin D as same intensity from the sun – July 2012
  2. Does the vitamin D generated vary with the % of skin illuminated? +-30%?
  3. Does warmer skin generate more vitamin D? -30%?
  4. Does shorter people generate less vitamin D? That is, is the vitamin D generated a function of skin area?

Zero UVB to eyes without and with standard glasses

Image Image

Paths of light if had an ideal reflector

I have no intention of making this kind of reflector.

2016 Update

Installed in house next to exercycle
Off Topic: Exercycle for high-intensity exercise with UV
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#2: Sperti

The Sperti Vitamin D appliance is the ONLY medical device (OTC) recognized by the FDA and has been used in clinical research.

http://www.vitaminduv.com $425 factory direct,   also Amazon

Apparently no prescription needed

From Sperti website Aug 2012

This UV lamp was designed for either home or facility use, and its size and power is just right for 5 minute sessions {3 times per week}. Easy to use, so whether its just for your home, or for supervised facility use - the 1 to 5 minute timed dial with auto turn-off makes it easy to use, + a good safety feature. Increase your vitamin d levels naturally with UV light. Protective UV eyewear is included free with all orders at Sperti.com
1000 hour bulb life average for these Vitamin D bulbs, & easily replaced when the time comes.
Replacement bulbs are only $79 for a full set, and are easy to install.
{amortized cost of bulbs: 8 cents per hours} CLICK HERE for details

Their claim that the lamp would generate Vitamin D was recognized by the AMA and the organization that proceeded FDA around 1941.

This lamp was designed with the help of Dr. Holick, who published A paper on it Dec 2012

Highlights of paper

  • 0.75 minimal erythemal dose of UV radiation over ?9% of body surface area three times a week for 4 weeks.
  • Raised blood levels from 18 ng up to 27 ng (average of 4 men)

Notes by VitaminDWiki before reading the paper - which is attached at the bottom of the page as of Aug 2014

  • 4 weeks was not long enough for the measurements to have become stable - the levels were most likely still rising
  • The chart at Overview How Much vitamin D indicates 9 ng raise from 1,000 IU daily
    The study happened to show a 9 ng rise, so it was approximately like getting an extra 1,000 IU daily
    still do not know the duration (# of minutes) of a session. (from paper: 15 minutes)


1 minute video no audio needed

UV Spectrum Sperti

UVB content of light

  • Sperti: stated 80% of UV is UVB (appears to be 40%)
  • Sun: 1% of UV is UVB

The ratio of vitamin D / tanning is much higher for Sperti than the sun
That is, Sperti is much better than a full-spectrum light source or even a tanning bed for producing vitamin D

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UV transmission by standard window glass

No UVB (Vitamin D) gets thru, but most UVA (Tan) gets thru

uv window glass.jpg

Philips also makes narrowband UV bulbs

which are used for Psorasis - both have plenty of UVB needed for production of vitamin D in the skin

Image Image

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UVB is not the same as vitamin D spectra

From UVGuide in the UK 2007 Excellent, with lots of detailed information.

  • UVB bulbs were measured at a distance where they where they had an intensity of 100 µW/cm² of total UVB
  • Then from the same distance their UV Index was measured – which just looks at the Vitamin D portion of the UVB.
  • Notice that there was a 6X difference in the amount of vitamin D spectrum
  • Be aware, also, that there are hints that when there is less UVA (than from the sun) that more vitamin D may be created
    Thus, some of these bulbs may produce > 10X more vitamin D than would be indicated by their UVB Index
UVB SourceUVB Index
Vitamin D spectra
Arcadia 5% UVB D3 Reptile linear tube 2.2
Arcadia 7% UVB D3 Compact Reptile Lamp 2.2
Namiba Terra 8% UVB Replux UV-Plus D3 compact 2.2
ZooMed Reptisun 5.0 linear tube 2.3
Lucky Reptile Compact UV Sun 2.5
ZooMed Reptisun 10.0 linear tube 3.1
ExoTerra ReptiGlo 8.0 linear tube 4.1
ZooMed Reptisun 5.0 compact 8.9
ZooMed Reptisun 10.0 compact 10.0
Big Apple Herp. Mystic Compact 10.9
Big Apple Herp. Mystic tube 11.9
R-Zilla Desert Series 50 T5 Low Profile Single Bulb Fixture 13.4
R-Zilla Desert Series 50 T8 tube 14.2

Russian kids 1977


UVB for WWII submariners in the UK

UVB submariners WWII.jpg

Babies with low vitamin D can get UVB if they need an immunity boost

UVB for baby

See also VitaminDWiki

Notes by VitaminDWiki

  1. The light years lamp may generate 5000 IU/5 minutes because it has little UVA which destroys vitamin D)
  2. When UV light was originally used to create vitamin D, people happened to notice that the UV light also caused a tan.
    This caused the creation of the sunbed industry.
    The sunbed industry then changed the spectrum so as to maximize the tan. This change resulted in minimizing the vitamin D produced.

#3) Psorasis Lamp


1.1.1. 4) Androv 3000 UV-B Lamp for Vitamin D

£299 72 watts

Ancient UV lamp, similar to the one used by the founder of VitaminDWiki in the 1950s

By Sun-Kraft
It appeared to eliminate the growing pains in my legs
See Quick, free, self test of vitamin D deficiency which has the following
Press with about 10 lbs (4 kg) of force at the bottom of your sternum and your tibia
Image Image

UVB bulb supplier discovered 2021

Example: G6T5E $23 May 2023

short url for this page = http://is.gd/Dlamps

Vitamin D from low-cost UVB lamps        
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Attached files

ID Name Comment Uploaded Size Downloads
16580 Ushio G8TSE.jpg admin 12 Nov, 2021 28.76 Kb 9361
11301 UVB AL off.jpg admin 30 Jan, 2019 16.34 Kb 32041
11300 UVB Al 2 feet.jpg admin 30 Jan, 2019 24.40 Kb 32623
11299 UVB 2 feet.jpg admin 30 Jan, 2019 10.75 Kb 32721
11283 UV bulb, ladder.jpg admin 28 Jan, 2019 19.10 Kb 33660
11282 UV reflector ladder.jpg admin 28 Jan, 2019 16.20 Kb 34640
10226 UV lamp Sunkraft.jpg admin 22 Jul, 2018 10.21 Kb 38975
7649 Androv 3000.jpg admin 12 Jan, 2017 12.73 Kb 68308
7648 Psoriasis lamp.jpg admin 12 Jan, 2017 6.20 Kb 64547
4145 G15T8E.jpg admin 15 Jul, 2014 45.48 Kb 103110
3681 no glasses.jpg admin 08 Mar, 2014 19.19 Kb 103869
3680 glasses-1.jpg admin 08 Mar, 2014 22.56 Kb 103204
3394 Russia 1977.jpg admin 14 Dec, 2013 147.63 Kb 111227
1725 solarmeter.xls admin 19 Nov, 2012 50.50 Kb 2464
1724 Measured reflector.jpg admin 19 Nov, 2012 40.55 Kb 112527
1723 Actual reflector.jpg admin 19 Nov, 2012 19.35 Kb 110792
1722 Ideal reflector.jpg admin 19 Nov, 2012 25.66 Kb 110828
1721 UV-mirror2.jpg admin 19 Nov, 2012 25.37 Kb 114927
1640 B2R.jpg admin 08 Oct, 2012 22.48 Kb 92496
1639 S21.jpg admin 06 Oct, 2012 3.74 Kb 111065
1566 Philips TL-12.jpg admin 20 Aug, 2012 16.27 Kb 112028
1565 Philips TL 01.jpg admin 20 Aug, 2012 13.35 Kb 111159
1564 Sperti lamp.jpg admin 20 Aug, 2012 7.39 Kb 111062