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Consumer Reports: Are you really vitamin D deficient?

Posted at 6:20 AM, Jun 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-05 09:20:34-04

TUCSON, Ariz. - After getting an annual checkup, Maritza Puello’s doctor advised her to start taking a vitamin D supplement.

“My vitamin D levels were super low," says Puello. "She said that it was one of the lowest that she had seen coming through her patient population.”

Some reports say we’re in the middle of a “pandemic” of vitamin D deficiency, which has led to the increase in screening and the use of supplements. But is taking a vitamin D supplement, if your doctor hasn’t told you to, the answer to preventing health problems?

“A recent study found that taking vitamin D daily for five years didn’t lower the incidence of cancer or cardiovascular disease," says Consumer Reports Health Editor, Lauren Friedman.

Other studies showed taking supplements failed to build bone mass or prevent falls or fractures in older people, something to consider before putting yourself on vitamin D. But there are some people who should be screened for low vitamin D.

“People who are frail or in nursing homes should be checked," says Friedman. "Also postmenopausal women, and men over 75. They’re both at risk of osteoporosis.”

It’s very common for aging adults to have low levels of vitamin D. One reason why: They’re not in the sun as much. And spending time in the sun prompts your body to make vitamin D, something Maritza now tries to do every day.

“I feel much more clear-headed and invigorated when I’m outside," says Puello.

Consumer Reports says most people can get enough vitamin D without a supplement. How? Spend a few minutes in the sun each day. You can also find vitamin D in egg yolks, canned tuna, and fortified milk, cereal, and orange juice.

For a closer look at some new studies that are casting doubt on the effectiveness of these supplements, click here.