Vitamin D

IMAGE Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body's liver and fatty tissues. Vitamin D acts as both a vitamin and a hormone. Vitamin D is found in some foods, but the main sources are vitamin D-fortified milk and sunlight. The ultraviolet rays of the sun react with cholesterol present on the skin and create previtamin D3. This compound goes through a series of reactions in the kidneys and the liver, and the final product is vitamin D.

Functions

Vitamin D's functions:
  • Plays a crucial role in the growth and maintenance of strong, healthy bones
  • Maintains normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus
In children with low vitamin D levels, the supplement can improve bone mineral density. While the evidence does not give a clear answer, it has also been suggested that vitamin D supplementation may reduce the risk of osteoporosis and seasonal flu in children, and high blood pressure and some forms of cancer. Vitamin D has also been found to improve pain symptoms in patients with low vitamin D levels.

Recommended Intake

Here are the guidelines for vitamin D intake:
Age Group Recommended Dietary Allowance or Adequate Intake (IU/Day)
0-12 months 400
1-70 years 600
71+ years 800
Pregnant or nursing women 600
IU: international unitsThe American Academy of Pediatrics recommends supplementation for all children who do not receive at least 400 IU of vitamin D daily. Breastfed babies may require a supplement within the first few days of life. Bottle-fed babies who do not consume enough vitamin-D fortified formula may also need the supplement, as well as any child who does not get plenty of vitamin D in their diet.As seen above, requirements for pregnant women are the same as for healthy adults, though some believe that pregnant mothers should take more vitamin D than recommended. Furthermore, some experts believe that people at highest risk for vitamin D deficiency, such as older adults or those with limited sun exposure during the winter months, should take 1,000 IU or more daily. However, since the risk of vitamin D toxicity increases with higher doses, such recommendations ought to be discussed individually with a physician.

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