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As scientific research continues to link a wide range of health effects to vitamin D, many doctors are recommending more testing to determine if their patients have dangerously low levels of the vitamin.
Vitamin D has long been known to facilitate the absorption of calcium, which can help strengthen bones. But more recent studies have shown that it may decrease the risk of heart disease and some cancers while boosting brain function and energy.
This has caused many doctors to reevaluate their vitamin D recommendations. Deborah Freeman, a Chicago-based endocrinologist, told the Naperville Sun that she is advising more of her patients to get a vitamin D test and suggesting that they take supplements if their levels are too low.
"I believe there's a marked deficiency of it in about a billion people worldwide," she told the news source, "and that we have grossly underestimated its value."
Studies by the American Medical Association show that just over 24 percent of adolescents and a majority of adults may be vitamin D deficient.
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