BACKGROUND: Vitamin D insufficiency may lead to various health problems. By encouraging sun protection to prevent skin cancer, physicians may be limiting a major source of vitamin D for many individuals. METHODS: We did a literature review on issues related to vitamin D inadequacy, particularly those relevant to various racial/ethnic groups. RESULTS: Vitamin D is an important hormone with many physiologic roles beyond those related to bones, including blood pressure regulation and acting as a tumor suppressant. The recommended amount of vitamin D has recently increased for adults over age 50. Moreover, some researchers are urging higher doses for the entire population to prevent osteoporotic fractures. CONCLUSIONS: Previous studies that have found serum levels of vitamin D in their sun-protected subjects to be in the normal range may need to be reevaluated. In concert with counseling sun protection, physicians should consider discussing vitamin D intake, typically in the form of supplements.
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