Who is more likely to have low levels of vitamin D?

Anyone who doesn't get enough sunlight or whose skin isn't functioning well is likely to have a low level of vitamin D. That's because the skin uses sunlight -- UVB rays specifically -- to make vitamin D.

About 50% of people on the planet are at risk for vitamin D deficiency. They include:
  • older adults. The skin of an older person takes longer to make vitamin D than the skin of a younger person. Plus, older people tend to spend less time outdoors.
  • people with dark skin. The abundance of melanin pigment in their skin blocks penetrating UVB rays.
Several medical conditions, such as osteoporosis and Crohn's disease, and certain drugs also can lead to a shortage of vitamin D. Speak to your doctor if you have a chronic disease or are taking medication.

People who have gastric bypass surgery risk running low on vitamin D because the part of their intestine that absorbs the vitamin is bypassed.

Infants who are exclusively or partially breast-fed and not given a vitamin D supplement may not get enough of the nutrient. Pregnant and breast-feeding women not taking supplements risk running low on vitamin D.
A vitamin D deficiency has been noticed as a global issue and recently found in underserved populations, patients in northern latitudes, people with darker skin tones, the elderly, obese and pregnant or lactating women. It is also very common in areas with a high degree of sunshine (this seems counter-intuitive, but think about all that sunblock).

Check with your doctor about vitamin supplementation. We all work hard, and eating right isn’t always easy -- and even when we do, we may not get what we need from the food we eat.

Continue Learning about Vitamin D

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.