Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is intrinsic to very few foods. Foods containing vitamin D are fatty fish, dairy products, beef liver and egg yolks. Due to this limitation, many processed foods are fortified with Vitamin D.
Exposure to sunlight is one of the best methods of sustaining the level of vitamin D. Ultraviolet rays trigger a form of synthesis that produces the vitamin with the assistance of the liver and kidneys.
Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium in the gut which maintains the proper level of serum calcium and proper concentration of phosphate, both of which are necessary for normal mineralization of bone and bone growth. A sign of vitamin D deficiency is thin, misshapen and brittle bones. Vitamin D along with calcium helps protect the elderly from osteoporosis. Vitamin D also reduces inflammation and modulates the immune and neuromuscular function in the human body. Vitamin D prevents rickets in children.
A deficiency arises because of inadequate exposure to sunlight, the compromised ability of the kidneys or liver in production or impaired absorption ability because of age or some related illness.
Adequate intake of Vitamin D is 5 mcg between the ages of 19 and 50, 10 mcg from 50 to 70 and 15 mcg beyond that. In cases with proven deficiency, a minimum dose of 20 mcg taken orally is required and in some acute cases as high a dosage as 55 mcg per day. Even at these sustained levels it requires at least a year for the bones to normalize.
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