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Impact of high latitude, urban living and ethnicity on 25-hydroxyvitamin D status: A need for multidisciplinary action?

Mendes, Marcela M., Darling, Andrea L., Hart, Kathryn H., Morse, Stephen, Murphy, Richard and Lanham-New, Susan A. (2019) Impact of high latitude, urban living and ethnicity on 25-hydroxyvitamin D status: A need for multidisciplinary action? The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 188. pp 95-102.

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Abstract

The effects of urban living on health are becoming increasingly important, due to an increasing global population residing in urban areas. Concomitantly, due to immigration, there is a growing number of ethnic minority individuals (African, Asian or Middle Eastern descent) living in westernised Higher Latitude Countries (HLC) (e.g. Europe, Canada, New Zealand). Of concern is the fact that there is already a clear vitamin D deficiency epidemic in HLC, a problem which is likely to grow as the ethnic minority population in these countries increases. This is because 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) status of ethnic groups is significantly lower compared to native populations.

Environmental factors contribute to a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in HLC, particularly during the winter months when there is no sunlight of appropriate wavelength for vitamin D synthesis via the skin. Also, climatic factors such as cloud cover may reduce vitamin D status even in the summer. This may be further worsened by factors related to urban living, including air pollution, which reduces UVB exposure to the skin, and less occupational sun exposure (may vary by individual HLC). Tall building height may reduce sun exposure by making areas more shaded. In addition, there are ethnicity-specific factors which further worsen vitamin D status in HLC urban dwellers, such as low dietary intake of vitamin D from foods, lower production of vitamin D in the skin due to increased melanin and reduced skin exposure to UVB due to cultural dress style and sun avoidance.

A multidisciplinary approach applying knowledge from engineering, skin photobiology, nutrition, town planning and social science is required to prevent vitamin D deficiency in urban areas. Such an approach could include reduction of air pollution, modification of sun exposure advice to emphasise spending time each day in non-shaded urban areas (e.g. parks, away from tall buildings), and advice to ethnic minority groups to increase sun exposure, take vitamin D supplements and/or increase consumption of vitamin D rich foods in a way that is safe and culturally acceptable. This review hopes to stimulate further research to assess the impact of high latitude, urban environment and ethnicity on the risk of vitamin D deficiency.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Biosciences and Medicine
Authors :
NameEmailORCID
Mendes, Marcela M.m.moraesmendes@surrey.ac.uk
Darling, Andrea L.A.L.Darling@surrey.ac.uk
Hart, Kathryn H.K.Hart@surrey.ac.uk
Morse, StephenS.Morse@surrey.ac.uk
Murphy, Richardrj.murphy@surrey.ac.uk
Lanham-New, Susan A.S.Lanham-New@surrey.ac.uk
Date : 2 January 2019
Funders : University of Surrey
DOI : 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2018.12.012
Grant Title : Urban Living Award Grant
Copyright Disclaimer : © 2018. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Uncontrolled Keywords : Urban; Rural; 25-Hydroxyvitamin D; 25(OH)D; Ethnicity; Latitude
Depositing User : Clive Harris
Date Deposited : 18 Jan 2019 13:58
Last Modified : 03 Jan 2020 02:08
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/850174

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