Sunlight exposure, with resulting cutaneous synthesis, is a major source of vitamin D for many, while dietary intake is low in modern diets. The constitutive pigment in skin determines skin type, observed as white, brown, or black skin. The melanin pigment absorbs ultraviolet radiation (UVR) and protects underlying skin from damage caused by UVR. It also reduces the UVR available for vitamin D synthesis in the skin. It has been shown that the white-skinned population of the UK are able to meet their vitamin D needs with short, daily lunchtime exposures to sunlight. We have followed the same methodology, based on a 10-year UK all-weather UVR climatology, observation (sun exposure, diet, vitamin D status), and UVR intervention studies with Fitzpatrick skin type V (brown) adults, to determine whether sunlight at UK latitudes could provide an adequate source of vitamin D for this section of the population. Results show that to meet vitamin D requirements, skin type V individuals in the UK need ~25 min daily sunlight at lunchtime, from March to September. This makes several assumptions, including that forearms and lower legs are exposed June–August; only exposing hands and face at this time is inadequate. For practical and cultural reasons, enhanced oral intake of vitamin D should be considered for this population.
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