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J Nutr. 2010 Mar;140(3):542-50. doi: 10.3945/jn.109.115253. Epub 2010 Jan 6.

Vitamin D intake needed to maintain target serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations in participants with low sun exposure and dark skin pigmentation is substantially higher than current recommendations.

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Nutrition Department, University of California, Davis, CA, 95616, USA.


Cutaneous cholecalciferol synthesis has not been considered in making recommendations for vitamin D intake. Our objective was to model the effects of sun exposure, vitamin D intake, and skin reflectance (pigmentation) on serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) in young adults with a wide range of skin reflectance and sun exposure. Four cohorts of participants (n = 72 total) were studied for 7-8 wk in the fall, winter, spring, and summer in Davis, CA [38.5 degrees N, 121.7 degrees W, Elev. 49 ft (15 m)]. Skin reflectance was measured using a spectrophotometer, vitamin D intake using food records, and sun exposure using polysulfone dosimeter badges. A multiple regression model (R(2) = 0.55; P < 0.0001) was developed and used to predict the serum 25(OH)D concentration for participants with low [median for African ancestry (AA)] and high [median for European ancestry (EA)] skin reflectance and with low [20th percentile, approximately 20 min/d, approximately 18% body surface area (BSA) exposed] and high (80th percentile, approximately 90 min/d, approximately 35% BSA exposed) sun exposure, assuming an intake of 200 iu/d (5 ug/d). Predicted serum 25(OH)D concentrations for AA individuals with low and high sun exposure in the winter were 24 and 42 nmol/L and in the summer were 40 and 60 nmol/L. Corresponding values for EA individuals were 35 and 60 nmol/L in the winter and in the summer were 58 and 85 nmol/L. To achieve 25(OH)D > or =75 nmol/L, we estimate that EA individuals with high sun exposure need 1300 iu/d vitamin D intake in the winter and AA individuals with low sun exposure need 2100-3100 iu/d year-round.

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