Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that your body needs to maintain healthy bones, regulate inflammation, and promote immune function:
- Promotes calcium absorption for bone health
- Promotes optimal muscle function
- Supports brain and nervous system health
- Supports heart and lung functions
- Regulates insulin levels
- Improves mood
Vitamin D deficiency can result in soft bones in children (rickets) and fragile bones in adults (osteomalacia).
How do you obtain vitamin D?
Vitamin D is the only vitamin that can be produced and stored in the body for future use. It can be obtained from:
What are different forms of vitamin D?
The two main forms of vitamin D are:
- Ergocalciferol (vitamin D2): Obtained from plants and fungi, often used as a food additive
- Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3): Found in animals and humans, formed by the skin upon exposure to sunlight via the compound 7-dehydrocholesterol
What are good food sources of vitamin D?
- Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel are excellent sources of vitamin D.
- Beef liver, egg yolks, and cheese have variable amounts of vitamin D, primarily in the form of vitamin D3.
- Fortified foods such as breakfast cereals, oatmeal, orange juice, soy milk, almond milk, cow’s milk, and nuts provide a source of vitamin D.
- Mushrooms contain a small amount of vitamin D2. Some mushrooms have been treated with ultraviolet light to increase vitamin D2 levels.
How much vitamin D do you need?
The amount of vitamin D you need on a daily basis depends on factors such as age and overall health. If you are pregnant or have other underlying vitamin deficiencies, your vitamin D needs may be different. General guidelines are as follows:
- Most children and teens need about 600 IU per day
- Individuals over age 70 may need about 800 IU per day
Excessive vitamin D intake can be harmful and cause side effects such as:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle weakness
- Kidney stones
- Loss of appetite
If you think you may have a vitamin D deficiency, consult your doctor.
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