In the present day, poor vitamin D status in adults is occurring in epidemic proportions as measured by the blood levels of the intermediate form of vitamin D, 25(OH)D3. The geography of the epidemic is evident in areas where vitamin D production is inefficient. The farther away from the equator, the greater the insufficiency of vitamin D because of reduced UVB light exposure. Many factors are at play: air pollution, the use of sunscreen (an SPF factor of 8 or above blocks all vitamin D synthesis), cloud cover, and skin tone. Because of the number of factors involved, it is difficult to estimate a population-wide sunlight exposure recommendation.
For latitudes closer to the equator, somewhere between 5 to 30 minutes of sunlight exposure between 10 am and 3 pm several times a week may be needed to support sufficient vitamin D status. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with many chronic medical conditions, including:
Fractures from falls
Colon, breast, and prostat cancers
Increased susceptibility to autoimmune inflammatory diseases such as type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Nutrition: Your Life Science
By Jennifer Turley and Joan Thompson
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