New research reveals that if you have pale skin that burns easily in the sun you may also need to take supplements to ensure you get enough vitamin D.
Announced October 4, research from University of Leeds in the UK suggests that people with very pale skin, especially those who live in mild climates such as Northern Europe, may not be able to spend enough time in the sun to make the amount of vitamin D the body needs.
The study, published in the journal Cancer Causes and Control, suggests that melanoma patients may need vitamin D supplements as well.
The study defined the optimal amount of vitamin D required by the body as at least 60nmol/L (nanomoles per liter), while there is no universally agreed standard definition, the researchers noted in a press release.
In the study, researchers measured vitamin D levels of some 1,200 people and found that around 730 people had "a sub-optimal level" for bone health. People with fair skin had even lower levels.
Currently there is no clinically recommended vitamin D regimen for fair-skinned people, so if you're concerned about your levels, talk to your doctor, stated Cancer Research UK, which funded the study.
This year Canada and the US tripled their recommended dietary allowance of vitamin D for people aged 9 to 70 from 200 to 600 international units (IU) a day, or about the amount found in three ounces of canned salmon, among other food sources.
For those with darker skin, the body does store vitamin D, so stocking up in summer months can help see you through winter's dim days. Vitamin D doesn't occur naturally in many foods, and there is some debate about how the body processes vitamin D. However, healthy sources are mackerel, sardines, salmon, and fish liver oil. Vitamin-fortified cereals and dairy products are good options.