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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle

Colour Counts: Sunlight and Skin Type as Drivers of Vitamin D Deficiency at UK Latitudes

1
School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK
2
Physics Department, University of Patras, 26500 Patras, Greece
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Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, University of Manchester and Dermatology Centre, Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Manchester, M6 8HD UK
4
Centre for Biostatistics, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre (MAHSC), University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL UK
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Nutrients 2018, 10(4), 457; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10040457
Received: 13 March 2018 / Revised: 29 March 2018 / Accepted: 3 April 2018 / Published: 7 April 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Changing Times for Vitamin D and Health)
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: vitamin D; ultraviolet radiation; climatology; skin type V; dietary intake; vitamin D deficiency vitamin D; ultraviolet radiation; climatology; skin type V; dietary intake; vitamin D deficiency
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Webb, A.R.; Kazantzidis, A.; Kift, R.C.; Farrar, M.D.; Wilkinson, J.; Rhodes, L.E. Colour Counts: Sunlight and Skin Type as Drivers of Vitamin D Deficiency at UK Latitudes. Nutrients 2018, 10, 457.

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