UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
Does melanin have other functions besides protection from ultraviolet radiation exposure?
Question Date: 2012-01-31
Answer 1:

Yes - melanin first off is the primary coloring and patterning agent in vertebrates. You look at the stripes of a zebra, for example, that have the effect of misleading the eyes of predators - those stripes are made by concentrations of melanin.

In humans, melanin also is used in the synthesis of vitamin D under exposure to modest levels of ultraviolet. This is why northerly peoples are actually lighter than tropical peoples: lower concentrations of melanin mean that you can harvest vitamin D from the more limited sunlight at higher latitudes.

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use