Vitamin D deficiency might be common in fair skinned people: Study

Pale people might benefit from a vitamin D supplement suggests a new study.

The British study suggests that pale people tend to be deficient in the “sunshine” vitamin and that without supplements they're unlikely to get their levels up without getting sunburned. That can put them at risk for bone loss, heart disease, and poorer survival from breast cancer, according to the study's authors.

“This should be considered for fair-skinned people living in a mild climate like the UK and melanoma patients in particular,” study author Dr. Julia Newton-Bishop, a cancer researcher at the University of Leeds, said in a written statement.

For the study - published in the Oct. 4 issue of Cancer Causes and Control - researchers tested vitamin D levels in 1,200 people and found 730 of them had below-normal levels. Levels were lowest in fair-skinned folks. Meanwhile, higher vitamin D levels were associated with longer sun-exposure, taking vitamin D supplements and using lower SPF sunscreen.

Vitamin D is associated with healthy bones, and levels below 25 nmol/L s are considered deficient. The study defined 60nmol/L as the normal vitamin D level, which research suggests can be associated with healthy benefits. The National Institutes of Health recommends vitamin D levels of 50 nmol/L and above for adequate bone health. Besides supplements, foods including cod liver oil, salmon, and mackerel contain the daily value of vitamin D, while foods like, tuna, milk, yogurt, and eggs contain some amounts of the vitamin.

Sara Hiom, director of health information at Cancer Research U.K, said in the statement, “If you are worried about your vitamin D levels, our advice is to go see your doctor.” However, it is too soon to recommend supplements for fair skinned individuals, and more research is needed. As the study was conducted in people with and without melanoma, some caution should be used if applying the results to the general population.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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  1. Diana Diana United States says:

    I had a vitamin D deficiency in 2010, after which I began taking a Vitamin D supplement.  Spent 15 minutes in the sun before my daily SPF70 sunblock and got my greatest Vitamin D boost from soy and green leafy veggies. After 6 months of this routine my Vitamin D levels have returned to normal.  As long as they stay this way I will not consider adding Vitamin D via an animal derivative.  Oh heck I would not add an animal derivitave to begin with.  Just give yourself 15 minutes exposed to the sun whether it is cloudy or not.  Take a supplement and eat your veggies.  So much more healthy.

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