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Individuals who have spent years avoiding the sun because of concerns about skin cancer may want to consider seeking a vitamin D test, as many people who get little sun exposure often have low levels of the nutrient.
This is because vitamin D is actually a hormone that is produced naturally by the body following exposure to ultraviolet light. In recent years, many health experts have warned their patients about the risk of skin cancer posed by sun exposure, but neglected to discuss the importance of vitamin D.
The nutrient has long been known to assist in the absorption of calcium, helping to ward off conditions like rickets and osteoporosis. However, in recent years vitamin D has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks, depression, certain cancers and arthritis.
This has prompted many doctors to begin recommending that their patients get vitamin D testing. Paul Erhmann, a primary care physician in Royal Oaks, Michigan told the Detroit News that he is advising that more of his patients monitor their levels of the vitamin.
"We've been surprised by people who are vitamin D deficient," Erhmann told the news source. "It's an important risk factor for a lot of preventable problems."
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