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Several recent studies have shown that individuals living in northern climates are more likely to have low levels of vitamin D, but new research has found that many adolescents in the South are also likely to have vitamin D tests show that they are deficient.
Vitamin D is actually a hormone created in the body when skin is exposed to the sun. It has long been thought that people who live in northern climates where the sun is weaker may be more likely to experience deficiencies of the vitamin, but this is the first study to find that southerners are also at risk.
Researchers from the Medical College of Georgia found that 58 percent of teenagers between the ages of 14 and 18 in the Georgia area had insufficient levels of the vitamin while another 28 percent were deficient.
The findings run contrary to conventional wisdom that says that individuals living in southern areas don't need to worry about vitamin D deficiency, said Yanbin Dong, who led the study.
"Our data demonstrate that low vitamin D status is common among adolescents residing in the southeastern region and is related to various lifestyle factors," Dong said. "Taken together, these findings suggest that low vitamin D status is a growing national problem for adolescents in the United States, regardless of latitude."
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