Randomized Control Trial Assessing Impact of Increased Sunlight Exposure versus Vitamin D Supplementation on Lipid Profile in Indian Vitamin D Deficient Men

Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2017 May-Jun;21(3):393-398. doi: 10.4103/ijem.IJEM_9_17.


Background: Despite abundance of sunshine in India, Vitamin D deficiency is common and therefore there is an increasing trend toward taking Vitamin D supplements either as prescription medicine or as a nutritional supplement. Studies have suggested that duration of sun exposure may influence serum lipid profile.

Objectives: To study the effect of increased sunlight exposure versus Vitamin D supplementation on Vitamin D status and lipid profile in individuals with Vitamin D deficiency (25-hydroxyvitamin-D [25OHD] <50 nmol/L).

Design: A prospective, randomized open-label trial was carried out in apparently healthy Indian men (40-60 years). Based on 25OHD concentrations, individuals were divided into control (>50 nmol/L, n = 50) and intervention (<50 nmol/L, n = 100) groups. Individuals from intervention group were randomly allocated to two groups; either "increased sunlight exposure group" (n = 50, received at least 20 min sunlight exposure to forearms and face between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. over and above their current exposure) or "cholecalciferol supplement group" (n = 50, received oral cholecalciferol 1000 IU/day).

Results: Significant increase in 25OHD concentrations was seen in both intervention groups (P < 0.01). Significant decrease in total cholesterol (TC), high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) was seen in individuals with increased sunlight exposure (P < 0.05). Cholecalciferol supplement group showed a significant increase in TC and HDL-C (P < 0.05) and insignificant increase in LDL-C.

Conclusions: Increase in Vitamin D concentrations through sunlight exposure significantly reduced TC, LDL-C, and HDL-C concentrations, and cholecalciferol supplementation increased TC and HDL-C concentrations.

Keywords: Cholecalciferol; Indian; Vitamin D; cholesterol; sunlight.