Why is vitamin D deficiency on the increase?

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Vitamin D deficiency is increasing for several reasons.
  • More sunscreen use. Your skin uses sunlight to make vitamin D, and sunscreen interferes with this process. (Depending on where you live, among other factors, just 10 or 15 minutes of sun exposure on unprotected skin three times a week is enough to synthesize adequate vitamin D. The American Academy of Dermatology says that even brief exposure of unprotected skin raises the risk of cancer, and argues that people should get vitamin D through food or supplements.)
  • Lifestyle. People are spending more time indoors and less time in the sun these days, another trend that curtails vitamin D production in the skin.
  • Rise in obesity. Studies show that obese people tend to have lower blood levels of vitamin D than normal-weight individuals. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it's possible that if a person has more fat, vitamin D will be stored there rather than circulating in the bloodstream.
  • An aging population. The increase in the number of older people is another reason for the rise in vitamin D deficiency. With age, the skin is less able to make vitamin D.

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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.