Known as the sunshine vitamin, our bodies produce vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight.
There are 2 main forms of Vitamin D which are D2 and D3. Vitamin D3 is created when skin in exposed sunlight. It is also found in a few foods such as oily fish, egg yolks, cheese and fortified foods. Vitamin D2 is found in sun exposed mushrooms.
Vitamin D deficiency is a global health issue. About 50% of the global population has vitamin D insufficiency and about 1 billion people have vitamin D deficiency. Research shows that vitamin D deficiency appears to have a negative effect on susceptibility to infection and disease.
Vitamin D regulates the amount of calcium and phosphorous in the body, keeping bones and teeth healthy. Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become thin and brittle. Lack of vitamin D in children can cause Rickets, a condition which affects bone development, causing bones to be soft and brittle. The adult form of rickets is known as Osteomalacia. Vitamin D is also essential for a healthy immune system, normal muscle function and cell division.
Vitamin D receptors are found in many other organs such as the heart, pancreas, muscles and immune cells.
Exposure of skin to sunlight is essential for production of Vitamin D. When your skin is exposed to the sun, cholesterol in the skin is used to make Vitamin D. This travels to the liver and then the kidney to become an active form of Vitamin D which is then used for the absorption of calcium. The darker the skin, the more exposure is needed to make enough Vitamin D3.
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