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More vitamin D needed for pale people

4th October 2011

Researchers from the University of Leeds have said that pale-skinned people could be deficient or low in vitamin D.

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The vitamin is essential to the creation and maintenance of healthy bones and teeth. 

The team of researchers studied 1,200 people and found that 730 had "lower than optimal" vitamin D levels. 

Of the people with low vitamin D levels, they found many had pale skin. While most people can generate enough vitamin D from around 10-15 minutes exposure to sunlight a day, the team said many fair-skinned people did not appear able to produce enough of the vitamin.

Although this could be because pale people are told to cover up in the sun and use sun protection to prevent sunburn and skin cancer, the study showed even those fair-skinned participants who were exposed to direct sunlight did not produce enough of the vitamin.

Professor Newton-Bishop, who headed the team, said: "It's very difficult to give easy advice that everyone can follow. There's no one-size-fits-all."
"However, fair-skinned individuals who burn easily are not able to make enough vitamin D from sunlight and so may need to take vitamin D supplements."
Hazel Nunn, of Cancer Research UK, said: "It is about striking a balance between the benefits and harms of sun exposure."
"People with fair skin are at higher risk of developing skin cancer and should take care to avoid over-exposure to the sun's rays. If people are concerned about their vitamin D levels, they should see their doctor who may recommend a vitamin D test."

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