Vitamin D synthesis depends on skin pigmentation
This research looked at the effect of skin colour on the ability of the body to synthesize Vitamin D through sun exposure. The conclusions drawn were profound, estimating that current recommendations for Vitamin D intake were up to 8 times too low! This study found that even individuals in California getting ~90 minutes of sun exposure per day, with ~35% of their body surface area exposed needed 1300IU Vitamin D supplemented daily… Just to get levels out of the deficient range!
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.
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° N, 121.7° W, Elev. 49 ft). Skin reflectance was measured using a spectrophotometer, vitamin D intake using food records, and sun exposure using polysulfone dosimeter badges. A multiple regression model (R2 = 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, ~20 min/d, ~18% body surface area (BSA) exposed] and high (80th percentile, ~90 min/d, ~35% BSA exposed) sun exposure, assuming an intake of 200 IU/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 ≥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.
We can see from the conclusion that African Ancestry individuals with low sun exposure (Hint: the UK) needed 2100-3100IU/d year round just to get to the lower levels of normal!