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The majority of young people in the U.S. may be at risk for unhealthy vitamin D test results, according to a new study. Researchers from the FDA found that children are spending too little time outside to produce healthy vitamin D levels.
Exposure to the sun's ultraviolet rays is the main source of vitamin D for most people. However, individuals are increasingly spending time inside or putting on extra layers and sunscreen when they go out. This blocks the type of radiation associated with skin cancer, but also prevents the production of vitamin D.
The Institute of Medicine recommends that people get around 600 international units of vitamin D per day. This can be achieved by spending about 10 to 15 minutes in direct sunlight per day. However, the researchers reported in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives that the majority of children do not reach these levels.
Vitamin D deficiency has been tied to a range of health problems. It is directly implicated in musculoskeletal conditions like rickets and has also been linked by recent studies to an increased risk of certain forms of cancer.
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