Adv Exp Med Biol. 2008;624:1-15.Links Sunlight, UV-radiation, vitamin D and skin cancer: how much sunlight do we need? Holick MF. Department of Medicine, Section of Endocrinology, Nutrition and Diabetes, Vitamin D, Skin and Bone Research Laboratory, Boston University Medical Center, 715 Albany Street, M-1 013, Boston, MA 02118, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org Vtamin D is the sunshine vitamin for good reason. During exposure to sunlight, the utraviolet B photons enter the skin and photolyze 7-dehydrocholesterol to previtamin D3 which in turn is isomerized by the body's temperature to vitamin D3. Most humans have depended on sun for their vitamin D requirement. Skin pigment, sunscreen use, aging, time of day, season and latitude dramatically affect previtamin D3 synthesis. Vitamin D deficiency was thought to have been conquered, but it is now recognized that more than 50% of the world's population is at risk for vitamin D deficiency. This deficiency is in part due to the inadequate fortification of foods with vitamin D and the misconception that a healthy diet contains an adequate amount of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency causes growth retardation and rickets in children and will precipitate and exacerbate osteopenia, osteoporosis and increase risk of fracture in adults. The vitamin D deficiency has been associated pandemic with other serious consequences including increased risk of common cancers, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases and cardiovascular disease. There needs to be a renewed appreciation of the beneficial effect of moderate sunlight for providing all humans with their vitamin D requirement for health.