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Is casual exposure to summer sunlight effective at maintaining adequate vitamin D status?

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Background/purpose:

The advice that an adequate vitamin D status can be achieved by short, casual exposure to summer sunlight is ubiquitous. This review will examine the value of this advice. Methods:

The results of experimental studies on changes in serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations following ultraviolet exposure are interpreted in the context of human exposure to sunlight. Results:

It is shown that current advice about modest sun exposure during the summer months does little in the way of boosting overall 25(OH)D levels, while sufficient sun exposure that could achieve a worthwhile benefit would compromise skin health. Conclusions:

Failure to understand the nature of human exposure to sunlight has led to misguided advice concerning the sun exposure necessary for an adequate vitamin D status.
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Keywords: 25-hydroxyvitamin D; public health; sun exposure; vitamin D status

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Department of Dermatological Sciences, Institute of Cellular Medicine, University of Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK

Publication date: 2010-08-01

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