Meeting Vitamin D Requirements in White Caucasians at UK Latitudes: Providing a Choice

Nutrients. 2018 Apr 17;10(4):497. doi: 10.3390/nu10040497.


The body gains vitamin D through both oral intake (diet/supplementation) and synthesis in skin upon exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR). Sun exposure is the major source for most people even though sun exposure is complex and limited by climate and culture. We aimed to quantify the sun exposure required to meet vitamin D targets year-round and determine whether this can be safely achieved in a simply defined manner in the UK as an alternative to increasing vitamin D oral intake. Data from observation (sun exposure, diet, and vitamin D status) and UVR intervention studies performed with white Caucasian adults were combined with modeled all-weather UVR climatology. Daily vitamin D effective UVR doses (all-weather) were calculated across the UK based on ten-year climatology for pre-defined lunchtime exposure regimes. Calculations then determined the time necessary to spend outdoors for the body to gain sufficient vitamin D levels for year-round needs without being sunburnt under differing exposure scenarios. Results show that, in specified conditions, white Caucasians across the UK need nine minutes of daily sunlight at lunchtime from March to September for 25(OH)D levels to remain ≥25 nmol/L throughout the winter. This assumes forearms and lower legs are exposed June-August, while in the remaining, cooler months only hands and face need be exposed. Exposing only the hands and face throughout the summer does not meet requirements.

Keywords: climatology; dietary intake; ultraviolet radiation; vitamin D; white Caucasian.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Seasons
  • Skin
  • Skin Pigmentation
  • Sunlight*
  • Time Factors
  • Ultraviolet Rays
  • United Kingdom
  • Vitamin D / metabolism*
  • White People


  • Vitamin D