Increased skin pigment reduces the capacity of skin to synthesise vitamin D3

Lancet. 1982 Jan 9;1(8263):74-6. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(82)90214-8.


To determine the effect of increased skin pigment on the cutaneous production of vitamin D3, circulating vitamin D concentrations were determined in two lightly pigmented Caucasian and three heavily pigmented Negro volunteers after exposure to a single standard dose of ultraviolet radiation (UVR). Exposure of Caucasian subjects to 1 minimal erythemal dose of UVR greatly increased serum vitamin-D concentrations by up to 60-fold 24-48 h after exposure, whereas this dose did not significantly change serum vitamin-D concentrations in Negro subjects. Re-exposure of one Negro subject to a dose of UVR six times larger than the standard dose increased circulating vitamin D to concentrations similar to those recorded in Caucasian subjects after exposure to the lower dose. These results indicate that increased skin pigment can greatly reduce the UVR-mediated synthesis of vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Black People
  • Cholecalciferol / biosynthesis*
  • Humans
  • Melanins / metabolism
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Rickets / prevention & control
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Skin Pigmentation / radiation effects*
  • Ultraviolet Rays
  • Ultraviolet Therapy
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • White People


  • Melanins
  • Vitamin D
  • Cholecalciferol