Exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation is associated with a decreased folate status in women of childbearing age

D Borradale, E Isenring, E Hacker, M G Kimlin

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In vitro studies indicate that folate in collected human blood is vulnerable to degradation after exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation. This has raised concerns about folate depletion in individuals with high sun exposure. Here, we investigate the association between personal solar UV radiation exposure and serum folate concentration, using a three-week prospective study that was undertaken in females aged 18-47years in Brisbane, Australia (153 E, 27 S). Following two weeks of supplementation with 500μg of folic acid daily, the change in serum folate status was assessed over a 7-day period of measured personal sun exposure. Compared to participants with personal UV exposures of <200 Joules per day, participants with personal UV exposures of 200-599 and >600 Joules per day had significantly higher depletion of serum folate (p=0.015). Multivariable analysis revealed personal UV exposure as the strongest predictor accounting for 20% of the overall change in serum folate (Standardised B=-0.49; t=-3.75; p=<0.01). These data show that increasing solar UV radiation exposures reduces the effectiveness of folic acid supplementation. The consequences of this association may be most pronounced for vulnerable individuals, such as women who are pregnant or of childbearing age with high sun exposures.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-5
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


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