Vitamin D study suggests that pale people need supplements

Feeling tired, dizzy and have pale skin? Those can be signs of an iron deficiency and that can be a sign of something much worse.Iron is needed to make hemoglobin, the protein that delivers oxygen to tissues throughout the body. A deficiency can be caused by all sorts of conditions that aren't cancer, including heavy menstrual periods, ulcers, and a diet that is too low in iron. But since iron-deficiency anemia can also be evidence of colon cancer, it's essential that doctors take steps to find out the specific cause. istockphoto

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(CBS) Pale? Pasty? A new study suggests you might benefit from a vitamin D supplement.

The English study suggests that pale people tend to be deficient in the "sunshine" vitamin and that without supplements they're unlikely to get their levels up without getting sunburned.

That can put them at risk for bone loss, heart disease, and poorer survival from breast cancer, according to the study's authors.

"This should be considered for fair-skinned people living in a mild climate like the UK and melanoma patients in particular," study author Dr. Julia Newton-Bishop, a cancer researcher at the University of Leeds, said in a written statement.

For the study - published in the Oct. 4 issue of Cancer Causes and Control - researchers tested vitamin D levels in 1,200 people and found 730 of them had below-normal levels. Levels were lowest in fair-skinned folks.

Vitamin D is associated with healthy bones, and levels below 25 nmol/L s are considered deficient. The study defined 60nmol/L as the normal vitamin D level, which research suggests can be associated with healthy benefits.

The National Institutes of Health recommends vitamin D levels of 50 nmol/L and above for adequate bone health.

Think you're not getting enough vitamin D?

Besides supplements, foods including cod liver oil, salmon, and mackerel contain the daily value of vitamin D, while foods like, tuna, milk, yogurt, and eggs contain some amounts of the vitamin.

Sara Hiom, director of health information at Cancer Research U.K, said in the statement, "If you are worried about your vitamin D levels, our advice is to go see your doctor."

The NIH's office of dietary supplements has more on vitamin D.

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