According to the study, published in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, nearly one billion people worldwide may be having deficient or insufficient levels of Vitamin D due to inadequate sun exposure related to sunscreen use.
Vitamin D is very important for the growth of bones, as it helps the gut to absorb calcium. Interestingly, the vitamin also aids muscle and nerve function, and it helps the immune system to stave off infection.
The deficiency may lead to loss of bone density that can increase the risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis.
However, the risks that come with sunlight exposure - such as sunburn and skin cancer - cannot be ignored, and sunscreen is considered one of the best ways to protect against such harms.
From their review, the researchers conclude that sunscreen use and diseases involving malabsorption of vitamin D - including Crohn’s disease, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease - play a part in almost 1 million cases of vitamin D deficiency worldwide.
Dr. Kim Pfotenhauer, co-author of the study said that people are spending less time outside and, when they do go out, they’re typically wearing sunscreen , which essentially nullifies the body’s ability to produce vitamin D.
The study also stated that vitamin D supplementation is also a good way to boost vitamin D levels, as it does not pose the risks associated with sunlight exposure. However, the authors recommend consulting a physician before taking vitamin D supplements.