Skin pigmentation and vitamin D-folate interactions in vascular function: an update

S. Tony Wolf, W. Larry Kenney

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Vitamin D and folate promote vascular endothelial health and may therefore help mitigate the development of cardiovascular disease (CVD). Ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure stimulates cutaneous vitamin D synthesis but degrades the bioactive metabolite of folate, 5-methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF). Skin melanin absorbs UVR, thereby modulating the impact of UVR exposure on vitamin D and 5-MTHF metabolism. This review presents recent findings regarding the inter-relations among UVR, skin pigmentation, folate and vitamin D, and endothelial function. RECENT FINDINGS: Evidence for roles of folic acid or vitamin D supplementation on CVD endpoints is inconsistent, although preclinical and clinical studies have demonstrated the efficacy of both micronutrients for improving endothelial function. Vitamin D deficiency is most prevalent in darkly pigmented individuals living in relatively low-UVR environments. Conversely, there is a negative relation between accumulated UVR exposure and serum folate concentration in lightly pigmented adults. The interactions among UVR and bioavailable folate and vitamin D differentially impact endothelial function in differently pigmented skin. SUMMARY: UVR exposure disparately impacts folate and vitamin D metabolism in differently pigmented skin depending upon regional UVR intensity and seasonality. These findings present new clinical research questions regarding the interactions among UVR, skin pigmentation, folate and vitamin D bioavailability, and endothelial health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)528-535
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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