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Science. 1981 Feb 6;211(4482):590-3.

Regulation of cutaneous previtamin D3 photosynthesis in man: skin pigment is not an essential regulator.


When human skin was exposed to simulated solar ultraviolet radiation, epidermal 7-dehydrocholesterol was converted to previtamin D3. During prolonged exposure to simulated solar ultraviolet radiation, the synthesis of previtamin D3 reached a plateau at about 10 to 15 percent of the original 7-dehydrocholesterol content, and previtamin D3 was photoisomerized to two biologically inert isomers, lumisterol3 and tachysterol3. Increases either in skin melanin concentration or in latitude necessitated increases in the exposure time to simulated solar ultraviolet radiation required to maximize the formation, but not the total content, of previtamin D3. In order of importance, the significant determinants limiting the cutaneous production of previtamin D3 are (i) photochemical regulation, (ii) pigmentation, and (iii) latitude.

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