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Monday, May 20, 2024

The Sun Isn’t Enough

New Study Revolutionizes Vitamin D Guidelines


A recent study by researchers from Trinity College Dublin, published in the journal Clinical Nutrition, explores the challenges in maintaining adequate vitamin D levels among various populations. 

The research highlights the ongoing issue of high vitamin D deficiency rates, despite extensive studies on the factors influencing vitamin D status.

Dr Margaret M. Brennan, Research Assistant, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, School of Medicine, Trinity College and first author, said:

“We hope this work can highlight the significant differences in vitamin D levels among different ethnic groups at northern latitudes and contribute to efforts to address the long-standing population health issue of vitamin D deficiency.”

Research Methodology and Insights

The authors analyzed data from half a million participants from the United Kingdom (UK,) and for each person, they calculated the individualized estimate of ambient ultraviolet-B (UVB) level, which is the wavelength of sunlight that induces vitamin D synthesis in the skin.

A comprehensive analysis of key determinants of vitamin D and their interactions revealed novel insights. The first key insight is that ambient UVB emerges as a critical predictor of vitamin D status, even in a place like the UK, which receives relatively little sunlight. 

The second is that age, sex, body mass index (BMI), cholesterol level, and vitamin D supplementation significantly influence how individuals respond to UVB. For example, as BMI and age increase, the amount of vitamin D produced in response to UVB decreases.

Professor Lina Zgaga, Associate Professor of Epidemiology, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, School of Medicine, Trinity College and the principal investigator, said:

“We believe our findings have significant implications for the development of tailored recommendations for vitamin D supplementation. Our study underscores the need to move away from a one-size-fits-all approach towards personalized strategies for optimizing vitamin D status.”

Rasha Shraim, PhD candidate, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, School of Medicine, Trinity College, and co-principal investigator on this study said:

“Our study also highlights the effect that natural environmental factors, like sunlight, can have on our health. We hope that our approach encourages future researchers and public health bodies to integrate these factors into their health and disease work.”

The authors hope that their manuscript will contribute to the ongoing discourse on vitamin D supplementation guidelines.

Reference: “Ambient ultraviolet-B radiation, supplements and other factors interact to impact vitamin D status differently depending on ethnicity: A cross-sectional study” by Margaret M. Brennan, Jos van Geffen, Michiel van Weele, Lina Zgaga and Rasha Shraim, 12 April 2024, Clinical Nutrition.
DOI: 10.1016/j.clnu.2024.04.006