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The vitamin D–folate hypothesis as an evolutionary model for skin pigmentation: An update and integration of current ideas

Lucock, M.

Authors

M. Lucock



Abstract

© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Vitamin D is unique in being generated in our skin following ultraviolet radiation (UVR) exposure. Ongoing research into vitamin D must therefore always consider the influence of UVR on vitamin D processes. The close relationship between vitamin D and UVR forms the basis of the “vitamin D–folate hypothesis”, a popular theory for why human skin colour has evolved as an apparent adaption to UVR environments. Vitamin D and folate have disparate sensitivities to UVR; whilst vitamin D may be synthesised following UVR exposure, folate may be degraded. The vitamin D–folate hypothesis proposes that skin pigmentation has evolved as a balancing mechanism, maintaining levels of these vitamins. There are several alternative theories that counter the vitamin D–folate hypothesis. However, there is significant overlap between these theories and the now known actions of vitamin D and folate in the skin. The focus of this review is to present an update on the vitamin D–folate hypothesis by integrating these current theories and discussing new evidence that supports associations between vitamin D and folate genetics, UVR, and skin pigmentation. In light of recent human migrations and seasonality in disease, the need for ongoing research into potential UVR-responsive processes within the body is also discussed.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date May 1, 2018
Journal Nutrients
Print ISSN 2072-6643
Publisher MDPI
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 10
Issue 5
Article Number 554
APA6 Citation Jones, P., Lucock, M., Veysey, M., & Beckett, E. (2018). The vitamin D–folate hypothesis as an evolutionary model for skin pigmentation: An update and integration of current ideas. Nutrients, 10(5), https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10050554
DOI https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10050554
Keywords Vitamin D; Folate; Skin pigmentation; Ultraviolet radiation
Publisher URL https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/10/5/554

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Copyright Statement
© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).





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