Sunlight exposure assessment: Can we accurately assess vitamin D exposure from sunlight questionnaires?

Catherine A. McCarty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


The purpose of this review is to summarize the peer-reviewed literature in relation to sunlight exposure assessment and the validity of using sunlight exposure questionnaires to quantify vitamin D status. There is greater variability in personal ultraviolet (UV) light exposure as the result of personal behavior than as the result of ambient UV light exposure. Although statistically significant, the correlation coefficients for the relation between personal report of sun exposure and ambient UV light measured by dosimetry (assessment of radiation dose) are relatively low. Moreover, the few studies to assess the relation between sunlight measures and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D show low correlations. These low correlations may not be surprising given that personal factors like melanin content in skin and age also influence cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D. In summary, sunlight exposure questionnaires currently provide imprecise estimates of vitamin D status. Research should be directed to develop more objective, nonintrusive, and economical measures of sunlight exposure to quantify personal vitamin D status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1097S-1101S
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2008


  • Environmental exposure
  • Film dosimetry
  • Questionnaires
  • Sunlight
  • Ultraviolet rays
  • Vitamin D


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