Actinic flux and O 1 D photolysis frequencies retrieved from spectral measurements of irradiance at Thessaloniki, Greece.

11 November 2004


Background: The cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D is dependent on UVB from sunlight, but melanin reduces the penetration of UVB and thus contributes to vitamin D insufficiency in individuals with darker skin. The national guidance provided on amounts of sunlight exposure in the United Kingdom is for the light-skinned population, and in the absence of dedicated information, darker-skinned people may attempt to follow this guidance.

Objectives: We determined the relative effect of a simulation of UK recommendations of summer sunlight exposure on the vitamin D status of individuals of South Asian ethnicity compared with that of whites.

Design: In a prospective cohort study, simulated summer sunlight exposures were provided under rigorous dosimetric conditions to 15 adults (aged 20–60 y) of South Asian ethnicity, and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] was measured weekly. Dietary vitamin D intake was estimated. Outcomes were compared with those of 109 whites (aged 20–60 y) treated with the identical UV-radiation exposure protocol.

Results: At baseline (winter trough), all South Asians were vitamin D–insufficient [25(OH)D concentrations <20 ng/mL], and 27% of South Asians were vitamin D–deficient [25(OH)D concentrations <5 ng/mL]; although 25(OH)D concentrations increased postcourse (P < 0.0001), all South Asians remained vitamin D–insufficient. The mean increase in 25(OH)D was 4.3 compared with 10.5 ng/mL in the South Asian and white groups, respectively (P < 0.0001), and 90% of the white group reached vitamin D sufficiency postcourse. The median dietary vitamin D intake was very low in both groups.

Conclusions: Sunlight-exposure recommendations are inappropriate for individuals of South Asian ethnicity who live at the UK latitude. More guidance is required to meet the vitamin D requirements of this sector of the population. This study was registered at as ISRCTN 07565297.


Kazadzis, S., Topaloglou, C., Bais, A.F., Blumthaler, M., Balis, D., Kazantzidis, A. and Schallhart, B., 2004. Actinic flux and O 1 D photolysis frequencies retrieved from spectral measurements of irradiance at Thessaloniki, Greece. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 4(8), pp.2215-2226.

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