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J Bone Miner Res. 1995 Apr;10(4):545-9.

Solar ultraviolet B radiation and photoproduction of vitamin D3 in central and southern areas of Argentina.

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Sección Osteopatías Médicas, Hospital de Clínicas, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina.


The incidence of nutritional rickets in the southern part of Argentina is 8-12 times higher than in the rest of the country. Winter 25(OH)D serum levels in normal population of southern areas are lower than in central and northern areas. To elucidate these differences, we compared the photoconversion of provitamin D3 (7-DHC) to previtamin D3 in two cities: Ushuaia (latitude 55 degrees S) and Buenos Aires (34 degrees S). Ampules containing 7-DHC were exposed to sunlight one day in the middle of each month either from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. or from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The percentages of photoproducts formed were determined by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Previous studies have proved that this is a valid model to assess "in vitro" the photoproduction of vitamin D3 in human skin. Previtamin D3 + vitamin D3 formed in Ushuaia were less (p < 0.02) than those found in Buenos Aires during all seasons: summer, (X +/- SEM) 6.4 +/- 0.8% vs. 13.2 +/- 1.8%; autumn, 1.2 +/- 0.7% vs. 6.3 +/- 1.3%; winter, 0.8 +/- 0.7% vs. 3.6 +/- 0.7%; spring, 3.4 +/- 0.5% vs. 9.1 +/- 1.1%. The photoproducts produced from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. were similar for each month and latitude to those formed when the ampules were exposed from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. We conclude that in Ushuaia there is a prolonged "vitamin D winter" during which cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D is absent, leading to lower serum values of 25(OH)D and contributing to the higher incidence of rickets.

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