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Br J Dermatol. 2010 Nov;163(5):1050-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2010.09975.x. Epub 2010 Sep 30.

The role of sunlight exposure in determining the vitamin D status of the U.K. white adult population.

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  • 1School of Earth Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PL, UK. ann.webb@manchester.ac.uk

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Vitamin D is necessary for bone health and is potentially protective against a range of malignancies. Opinions are divided on whether the proposed optimal circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] level (≥ 32 ng mL⁻¹) is an appropriate and feasible target at population level.

OBJECTIVES:

We examined whether personal sunlight exposure levels can provide vitamin D sufficient (≥ 20 ng mL⁻¹) and optimal status in the U.K. public.

METHODS:

This prospective cohort study measured circulating 25(OH)D monthly for 12 months in 125 white adults aged 20-60 years in Greater Manchester. Dietary vitamin D and personal ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure were assessed over 1-2 weeks in each season. The primary analysis determined the post-summer peak 25(OH)D required to maintain sufficiency in wintertime.

RESULTS:

Dietary vitamin D remained low in all seasons (median 3·27 μg daily, range 2·76-4·15) while personal UVR exposure levels were high in spring and summer, low in autumn and negligible in winter. Mean 25(OH)D levels were highest in September [28·4 ng mL⁻¹; 28% optimal, zero deficient (<5 ng mL⁻¹)], and lowest in February (18·3 ng mL⁻¹; 7% optimal, 5% deficient). A February 25(OH)D level of 20 ng mL⁻¹ was achieved following a mean (95% confidence interval) late summer level of 30·4 (25·6-35·2) and 34·9 (27·9-41·9) ng mL⁻¹ in women and men, respectively, with 62% of variance explained by gender and September levels.

CONCLUSIONS:

Late summer 25(OH)D levels approximating the optimal range are required to retain sufficiency throughout the U.K. winter. Currently the majority of the population fails to reach this post-summer level and becomes vitamin D insufficient during the winter.

© 2010 The Authors. BJD © 2010 British Association of Dermatologists.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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