It's a sunny and warm day in New York City, where I live. In fact, it's the first truly warm day of the new year and I couldn't be more excited. As I walked outside during lunch today, I could feel myself soaking up the sunshine—and Vitamin D that comes with it.

In the winter, some people suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) due to a lack of sun. But besides this extreme, a new study says that we—and our kids—may not be getting enough Vitamin D at all. Unfortunately for us, Latino kids are especially at risk for low Vitamin D levels, which is one of the most essential vitamins for the body to function right.

Is your family getting their fill of Vitamin D? Probably not.

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Vitamin D is essential to bone health and regulates over 200 genes in the body. Children suffering from low Vitamin D can develop rickets, bowed legs and spinal deformities. Meanwhile, adults who aren't getting enough of the vitamin can get osteoporosis and, since the body can't store it, we constantly have to replenish our supply.

Unfortunately, Vitamin D isn't easy to come by. Although there are some foods that are high in Vitamin D (such as button mushrooms, sockeye salmon, tuna and eggs), sunshine is still our first source for this essential vitamin. But it's difficult to do that in the winter (since we're outside less), so asking your doctor to check your and your child's Vitamin D levels—and possibly taking a supplement—may be the best choice when fun outdoors isn't as easy to come by.

New findings even suggest that Vitamin D can help teen girls prevent stress fractures and ease menstrual cramps. It has even been linked to reduce inflammation response, a condition that causes many chronic diseases—including cancer.

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With so many benefits of Vitamin D (and so many risks if you're running low!), it's important to find out if you may be doing your body harm—and take the appropriate steps to fix it. I know one thing: I'll be talking to my doctor and trying to get outside a lot more.

With additional reporting by Maria Andreu.

Have you ever gotten your Vitamin D levels checked? Do you think you and your family are getting enough?

About the author

Irina Gonzalez is a Staff Writer for MamásLatinas. She loves pop culture, social media, photography and, above all, discovering new places. She's also a foodie eating healthy and learning to enjoy exercise.

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