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The #1 Problem With Not Getting Enough Vitamin D, New Study Says

Vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of this disease.

You may already try to add a little extra vitamin D to your diet, especially on winter days when you're not able to get outside and soak up the sun's rays. But there's a very serious reason to make sure you're not deficient in this crucial vitamin.

Vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, researchers from the University of South Australia concluded in a new study published in the European Heart Journal. (RELATED: The 100 Unhealthiest Foods On the Planet)

"Severe deficiency is relatively rare, but in settings where this does occur, it is very important to be proactive and avoid negative effects on the heart," chief investigator, UniSA's Prof Elina Hyppönen, said in a news release.

Is this something you need to be concerned about? Due to the fact "that many of us spend less time outdoors and wear sunscreen, we are producing less vitamin D" on our own, Beryl Krinsky, MBA, MS, RDN, the founder and CEO of B.Komplete, told Eat This, Not That!.

RELATED: Surprising Side Effects of Taking Vitamin D Supplements, Says Science

In addition to cardiovascular issues, Amy Archer, RDN, CLT, CHWC, the author of An Integrative & Functional Nutrition Approach to ADHD Management, added that "having a suboptimal vitamin D level may increase the risk of many chronic diseases," including bone disorders, cancer, and autoimmune and mental health conditions.

Archer explained that "many cells have vitamin D receptors, and vitamin D regulates the expression of over 800 genes." The registered dietitian nutritionist further noted that vitamin D is "needed to make serotonin, the 'feel-good hormone' and neurotransmitter which helps regulate mood and sleep."

In order to make sure that you're getting enough vitamin D, Archer suggests eating foods like egg yolks, fatty fish, and liver. Krinsky also notes that "some dairy products, orange juice, soy products, and cereals" help prevent vitamin D deficiency. To read up on how to add more vitamin D to your diet, check out Popular Vitamin D Foods to Eat Every Day, Says Dietitian.

Everything else you need to know about vitamin D:

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Desirée O
Desirée O is a freelance writer who covers lifestyle, food, and nutrition news among other topics. Read more about Desirée