No doubt, you're probably familiar with the role of vitamin D in promoting healthy bones, largely by promoting the absorption of calcium. "If you have a vitamin D deficiency, particularly in your older years, it can lead to osteoporosis or osteomalacia [bone softening]," says Lona Sandon, RD, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern in Dallas.
But there is recent and mounting evidence that links low levels of the vitamin to an increased risk of type 1 diabetes, muscle and bone pain, and, perhaps more serious, cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, ovaries, esophagus, and lymphatic system.
A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone deformities such as rickets in children, and bone pain caused by a condition called osteomalacia in adults.
The body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on the skin when outdoors.
But between October and early March we don't get enough vitamin D from sunlight. Read more about vitamin D and sunlight.
Some people won't get enough vitamin D from sunlight because they have very little or no sunshine exposure. The Department of Health recommends that you take a daily supplement containing vitamin D throughout the year if you: