Sunny Disposition, Brittle Bones: The Vitamin D Deficit Shocking Sun-Soaked Americans

Vitamin D plays a crucial role in maintaining the strength of our bones. When our skin is exposed to sunlight, it can produce vitamin D, which our body needs to absorb calcium and phosphorus from the food we eat. Together, these three elements work to keep our bones strong, healthy, and resistant to fractures. However, new research suggests that many people, even those living in sunny regions, are not getting enough sunlight to produce the vital amounts of vitamin D their bodies need.

Vitamin D Deficiencies in Hip Fracture Patients

A study of 1,539 patients at a major medical center in Southern California, including 448 acute hip fracture patients and 1,091 total hip (THR) or total knee replacement (TKR) patients, revealed alarming levels of vitamin D deficiency. The researchers found that 65.8% of hip fracture patients had deficiency or insufficiency, compared to 54% of THR or TKR patients.

Furthermore, the study found that patients aged 71 and older presented a higher rate of deficiency or insufficiency in the hip fracture group than in the joint replacement group (66.7% versus 47.13%). Overall, the majority of patients aged 18 and older of both sexes with hip fractures had insufficient levels of vitamin D. Those aged 71 or older had significantly lower levels than the control group of people who had total hip or knee arthroplasty (reconstruction).

Why Aren’t We Getting Enough Sun?

The research findings raise the question of why people aren’t getting enough sun, even in areas with abundant sunshine. Several factors may contribute to this trend:

  1. Indoor Lifestyle: Today’s society is becoming increasingly sedentary, with people spending more time indoors, whether it’s for work, leisure, or education. As a result, they’re getting less natural sunlight exposure.
  2. Sun Protection: While protecting our skin from harmful UV rays is essential to prevent skin cancer and premature aging, excessive use of sunscreen and sun-protective clothing may also limit the skin’s ability to produce vitamin D.
  3. Air Pollution: In highly polluted areas, contaminants in the air can block UVB sunlight, reducing the skin’s exposure and limiting its capacity to produce vitamin D.
  4. Obesity: Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, and excess body fat can absorb it, reducing its availability in the bloodstream.

Ways to Boost Your Vitamin D Levels

Although many factors may limit our sun exposure, it’s important to find ways to ensure adequate vitamin D levels in order to keep our bones strong and healthy. Here are a few tips to increase your vitamin D intake:

  1. Spend Time Outdoors: Aim for at least 10-30 minutes of sun exposure on your face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen at least twice a week. Remember to protect your skin from excessive sun exposure.
  2. Eat Vitamin D-rich Foods: Include foods high in vitamin D in your diet, such as fatty fish like salmon and mackerel, eggs, and fortified foods like milk and yogurt.
  3. Take Supplements: If you’re unable to get sufficient sunlight or consume enough vitamin D-rich foods, consider taking a vitamin D supplement. Consult your doctor to determine the appropriate dosage for your needs.
  4. Test Your Vitamin D Levels: Consult your healthcare provider to ensure your vitamin D levels fall within the recommended range.


Vitamin D deficiency can have serious consequences for our bone health, increasing the risk of fractures and other complications. It’s essential to prioritize getting enough sunlight, consuming vitamin D-rich foods, and considering supplements when necessary to maintain optimal levels for strong and healthy bones.