Unlike vitamin D supplements, phototherapy provides a more natural means of vitamin D production. While research has shown that the vitamin D received from supplements is functionally equivalent to that synthesized from natural sunlight, evidence suggests that vitamin D sourced from sunlight remains active in our bodies longer than vitamin D derived from dietary supplements. Studies have further demonstrated that compared to natural sunlight, UVB LEDs are more efficient and more effective in producing vitamin D3 in skin. This supports UVB emitting LEDs as the optimal delivery source for vitamin D synthesis. 

Rensselaer inventors have developed a phototherapeutic device that produces artificial sunlight and stimulates vitamin D production in humans. Narrow-band LED technology emits UVB light with a particular peak wavelength. The wavelength is approximately 3.5 times more effective at producing vitamin D than it is at causing sunburn and has been configured to maximize the difference between the efficacy of the UVB light in producing vitamin D and the efficacy of the UVB light in causing sunburn. The system is further designed with smart integrated controls that enable users to operate the device through smart device applications or other wireless technology. When used in conjunction with the device’s location the system will be capable of calibrating UVB dosage based on local photic history of sun exposure, latitude, and seasonal variations. Determination of photosensitivity levels related to skin type will also inform users of optimal exposure time and allow for personalized dosing. The potential to gain medical device classification may also lend the invention a competitive advantage consistent with the quality and control measures that will be necessary to gain FDA approval.

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Natasha Sanford