Solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) is required for cutaneous vitamin D synthesis, and experimental studies have indicated the levels of sun exposure required to avoid a vitamin D deficient status. Our objectives are to examine the sun exposure behaviours of different United Kingdom sectors and to identify if their exposure is enough to maintain winter circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D above deficiency (>25 nmol/L). Data are from a series of human studies involving >500 volunteers and performed using the same protocols in Greater Manchester, UK (53.5° N) in healthy white Caucasian adolescents and working-age adults (skin type I–IV), healthy South Asian working-age adults (skin type V), and adults with photodermatoses (skin conditions caused or aggravated by cutaneous sun exposure). Long-term monitoring of the spectral ambient UVR of the Manchester metropolitan area facilitates data interpretation. The healthy white populations are exposed to 3% ambient UVR, contrasting with ~1% in South Asians. South Asians and those with photodermatoses wear clothing exposing smaller skin surface area, and South Asians have the lowest oral vitamin D intake of all groups. Sun exposure levels prevent winter vitamin D deficiency in 95% of healthy white adults and 83% of adolescents, while 32% of the photodermatoses group and >90% of the healthy South Asians were deficient. The latter require increased oral vitamin D, whilst their sun exposure provides a tangible contribution and might convey other health benefits.
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