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Research on athletes at the University of Wyoming has found that their vitamin D levels vary with the seasons, and the lead researcher says the general public may be in danger of wider fluctuations than the athletes.
"We know that people who live at greater than 35 degrees north or south latitude can't make vitamin D in the winter months," said Enette Larson-Meyer, an assistant professor in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences in the College of Agriculture. "We need to take supplements or get it from our diet."
Low vitamin D levels have been linked to a number of health problems, including increased risks of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension and many common cancers.
Larson-Meyer and colleagues are studying vitamin D levels in UW athletes in football, wrestling, track and field, cheerleading, swimming, men's and women's basketball and women's soccer. The vitamin D tests found that about 88 percent of the athletes they studied had sufficient levels in the fall but only 36 percent in the winter.
Members of the general public are probably not as well off as the athletes, according to the researchers.
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