Answers FAQ

Vitamin D FAQs

Reviewed by David Perlstein, MD, FAAP

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Q:Vitamin D is nicknamed "the sunshine vitamin." True or False?

A:True. Sunshine helps our bodies make vitamin D, hence, its happy nickname "the sunshine vitamin."

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Q:What is the best food source of vitamin D?

A:Salmon. Very few foods in nature contain vitamin D. The flesh of fatty fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and fish liver oils are among the best sources. Small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.

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Q:Breastfed infants get the most vitamin D. True or False?

A:False. Vitamin D requirements cannot ordinarily be met by human milk alone. Infants who are exclusively breastfed have the greatest risk for being vitamin D deficient, especially if they are born to mothers who are vitamin D deficient.

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Q:Where do human get the most vitamin D?

A:The sun. About 80%- 90% of Vitamin D is gained from sunlight exposure.

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Q:How is vitamin D stored in the body?

A:In body fat. When the body is exposed to sunlight, vitamin D is stored in fat and released when not exposed to sunlight.

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Q:Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb what mineral?

A:Calcium. The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Without enough vitamin D, the body must take calcium from its stores in the skeleton, which weakens existing bone and prevents the formation of strong, new bone.

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Q:What diseases or conditions are symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

A:Osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and hypertension are all symptoms of vitamin D deficiency. Additional symptoms can include frequent bone fractures and inflammatory gum disease (periodontal disease). Vitamin D is being studied for its possible connections to several diseases and medical problems, including diabetes and autoimmune conditions such as multiple sclerosis.

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Q:What is the name of the disease characterized by soft, weak, bendable bones in children?

A:Rickets. Rickets causes soft, weak bones in children. It usually occurs when they do not get enough vitamin D, which helps growing bones absorb important nutrients. In adults, this condition is called osteomalacia.

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Q:You probably don't get enough sunlight to produce your annual vitamin D requirement if you live where?

A:In the U.S., only people who live south of a line drawn from Los Angeles to Columbia, S.C., get enough sunlight for vitamin D production throughout the year.

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