vitamin D

Vitamin D - The Sunshine Vitamin

Regular prolonged exposure to the sun's ultra-violet rays can cause skin cancer and other health concerns. But these rays also have health benefits, such as helping the body make vitamin D, also known as D-vitamin. The most important function of this vitamin is to maintain the level of calcium in the blood. Dietary fats and oils, which sometimes get the same bad rap as UV rays, help the body's absorption of D-vitamin. Cholesterol lowering drugs can inhibit the body's absorption vitamins D, A, B12, E and K as well as other vitamins and minerals.

An adequate amount of the "sunshine vitamin" can be achieved through only 20-30 minutes of sun exposure per week. Most people can maintain sufficient D-vitamin levels from sunlight alone. Though those with limited sun exposure should make sure they get enough of the vitamin through dietary sources or a vitamin supplement.

The recommended daily allowance of D-vitamin is 5mcg. Cod liver oil has the highest concentration of the vitamin. Herring has nearly 4 times the D-vitamin RDA. Other fish and eggs are also good dietary sources of this vitamin. Most milk is D-vitamin fortified. Vitamin fortified breakfast cereals usually contain at least 10% of the D-vitamin RDA, eating it with D-vitamin fortified milk raises the percentage of the RDA of the vitamin to about 25%.

Rickets is a "sunshine vitamin" deficiency in infants. Rickets causes soft bones resulting in bone deformities. Infants who are exclusively breastfed are most at risk for this vitamin deficiency, especially if their mom's have limited sun exposure and/or a diet low in D-vitamins. A multi-vitamin or 10mcg D-vitamin supplement will help breastfeeding mom's avoid this vitamin deficiency. Health issues for adults with a D-vitamin deficiency also include muscle weakness, bone pain and constipation.

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