There has been a lot of conflicting information surrounding vitamin D deficiency recently, but according to new data released by the CDC, only 8 percent of Americans are currently at risk of an actual deficiency.
The report, which used data from 2001-2006, found that two-thirds of the population had sufficient levels of vitamin D -- defined by the Institute of Medicine as 50 to 125 nanomoles for every liter of blood.
The CDC reports that another quarter of Americans were "at risk" of vitamin D inadequacy (between 30 and 49 nmol/L), while one percent were at risk of dangerously high levels (greater than 125 nmol/L). The data came from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, which looks at a "nationally representative sample" of approximately 5,000 people every year.
While experts continue to quarrel over how much vitamin D Americans actually need, few question that it is essential to human health.
The Mayo Clinic explains that the major function of vitamin D -- which is actually a hormone, produced in the body -- is to regulate levels of calcium and phosphorous in our blood, as well as to aid in the body's absorption of calcium.
Vitamin D can be found in a few foods, namely certain fatty fishes, as well as products like milk, which are fortified with it. But the NIH estimates that 80 to 90 percent of the vitamin D in our bodies comes from sun exposure.