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Photochem Photobiol. 2011 Sep-Oct;87(5):1173-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-1097.2011.00956.x. Epub 2011 Jul 28.

Association of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3)levels in adult New Zealanders with ethnicity, skin color and self-reported skin sensitivity to sun exposure.

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  • 1Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Linkoping, Linkoping, Sweden.


The study aim was to determine the contribution of ethnicity, objectively measured skin color and skin reaction-to-sun exposure to variations in 25-hydroxyvitamin D(3) [25(OH)D(3) ]. A multiethnic sample (European, Maori, Pacific and Asian) of 503 adult volunteers aged 18-85 years, recruited from Auckland and Dunedin in New Zealand, answered a questionnaire on sun exposure and self-defined ethnicity. Skin color was measured using a spectrophotometer and the Individual Typology Angle (ITA) calculated. A blood sample was collected 4 weeks later to measure 25(OH)D(3). 25(OH)D(3) was associated with ethnicity, but not self-reported skin reaction-to-sun exposure. Amongst the ethnic groups, Asians had the lowest mean 25(OH)D level (37.0 nmol L(-1)) and Europeans with lighter colored skin had the highest (57.9 nmol L(-1)). An association also was seen between 25(OH)D(3) and skin color, with an increase of 2-3 nmol L(-1) per 10° increase in ITA value, indicating higher 25(OH)D(3) with lighter skin color; but much of this association disappeared after adjusting for ethnicity. In contrast, ethnicity remained associated with 25(OH)D(3) after adjusting for ITA skin color and skin reaction-to-sun exposure. These results indicate that self-defined ethnicity was a major determinant of variations in serum 25(OH)D(3), while objective measures of skin color explained relatively little additional variation.

© 2011 The Authors. Photochemistry and Photobiology © 2011 The American Society of Photobiology.

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