Vitamin D


Vitamin D is a vitamin that is important for the absorption of calcium and the production of strong bones and teeth.


Vitamin D is important for the proper absorption of calcium from food. It is vital for the control of the levels of calcium in the blood and also controls the rate at which the body excretes calcium in the urine. The calcium levels in the body need to be kept stable so that calcium is available for the growth and renewal of bone cells. Vitamin D is stored in body in the fat tissues.


MEDICAL USE

Always consult your Health Professional to advise you on dosages. Vitamin D supplements are used to combat low vitamin D levels and vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D deficiency can cause a range of health issues e.g., vitamin D deficiency in children can cause rickets, vitamin D deficiency in adults can lead to bone and joint pain, muscle weakness and osteoporosis and related fractures.

Adequate vitamin D can therefore help prevent osteoporosis, is used to treat certain skin conditions and can be used for genetic diseases that interfere with the metabolism of vitamin D. Recent studies also suggest adequate vitamin D may reduce the risk of developing other diseases such as multiple sclerosis, but further research is needed.

Vitamin D also controls the responses of the immune system. Slightly modified forms of vitamin D have been given to people with autoimmune diseases e.g. lupus, to control their immune system responses and reduce the required dosages of other immunosuppressant medications. Some forms of vitamin D also decrease the rate at which cells divide and may be used in the future to control the growth of certain cancers.


SOURCES

The main source of Vitamin D is from sunlight, as sun exposure on the skin produces Vitamin D in the body. The amount of sun you require depends on where you live and the season. Generally, 6 to 8 minutes, 4 to 6 times per week (on face, arms, hands) at 10am or 3pm is adequate. In winter, longer exposure times are needed.

Vitamin D is only available in small quantities in some foods e.g., fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel, cod liver oil, fish liver oil, some breads and cereals and egg yolks.


DOSAGE

Ask your Pharmacist and Doctor about supplementation. Vitamin D levels can be checked with a blood test.

For people who do not get adequate sun exposure (for a variety of reasons) and have low vitamin D levels, a supplement of 800 IU (international units) is required per day. In people with Vitamin D deficiency, vitamin D supplementation of up to 1000 to 2000IU per day is safe and beneficial.