While the link between staving off sun damage and producing vitamin D is not a solid one, there is a growing concern in regard to vitamin D deficiencies. “There’s a lot of debate about what the ‘optimum’ level is,” explains Fullerton, CA, dermatologist Julie A. Hodge, MD. “If you are concerned, get your levels checked with your doctor.” Here, the top groups mainly targeted as being in danger of having a deficiency:
- The Obese: Obesity increases the risk of vitamin D deficiency. “Once vitamin D is synthesized in the body, it is deposited in fat stores, making it less available to people with large stores of body fat,” celebrity nutritionist Paula Simpson says.
- Darker Skin Tones: Darker skin synthesizes less vitamin D when exposed to sunlight than those with light-colored skin. “The risk of vitamin D deficiency is particularly high in dark-skinned people who live far from the equator,” explains Simpson.
- The Elderly: The elderly have reduced capacity to synthesize vitamin D when exposed to UVB radiation. “This is mainly due to diet, but it also has to do with the kidneys working less efficiently,” explains Simpson.
- Skin Cancer Patients: New York dermatologist Dennis Gross, MD, says that vitamin D deficiencies are common in those with skin cancer. “Studies show that skin cancer patients avoided sun exposure, resulting in vitamin D deficiencies. That’s kind of where the whole concept of this topic stemmed from,” he says.