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vitamin d
vitamin d deficiency
sunny climates
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skin colour
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Importance Of Vitamin D
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Vitamin D

This vitamin is different from the others in that it is formed in the skin in sunlight so those who get enough sunlight make their own and do not need to get it from food.

The vitamin D precursor is made from cholesterol and when the skin is exposed to sunlight it changes to the active vitamin. Skin colour is important because the skin pigment melamin screens out sun’s rays. Fair skinned people need an average of ten minutes sunlight on the hands and face each day to provide adequate vitamin D. Dark skinned people need more exposure, perhaps fifteen to twenty minutes a day. This is easy to people in sunny climates but more difficult in cloudy northern countries like UK where winter sunshine is not strong enough for vitamin D production, especially on dark skinned people. Ideally, with plenty of time outdoor in summer, a person will have enough vitamin D stored to last the winter; however, as people age their bodies are less efficient and as vitamin D does not occur in plant foods, some people especially if they spend a lot of their time indoors, may need a supplement in the winter.

The role of Vitamin D

It is a member of a large number of nutrients including vitamin A, C and K which along with hormones and the minerals calcium and phosphorus, work together to build and maintain bone.

Vitamin D increases the absorption of calcium and phosphorous from the digestive tract and makes it available to the bones. It is known to have numerous other health promoting and disease preventing functions, many of which have only recently been recognized.

Vitamin D Deficiency has long been known to interfere with bone growth, causing children to develop rickets, a condition where their bones are soft and weak. Adults can develop osteomalacia where their bones become soft and weak. However, recent research indicates that vitamin D has a far wider influence and its deficiency is now thought to be involved with degenerative and other conditions.

Food sources of Vitamin D

The natural sources are all animal ones dairy produce, meat, eggs, liver and oily fish. Fish oils are the richest source.

Unfortunately, fish in polluted waters store heavy metals in their livers, so fish liver oil is no longer an ideal choice. Vitamin D is added to some foods, particularly margarines.

Who need supplements?

Some people, especially the elderly, who live in cool, cloudy northern countries and spend most of their time indoors may need to take a supplement to see them through the winter months.


This is possible with excess intake from supplements and can cause very serious problems. Excess vitamin D is stored in the body and can cause calcium to be mobilized from bones and deposited in unsuitable areas such as major arteries where it can cause fatal problems like kidney failure.

Dangers of SunlightSunlight is necessary for the production of vitamin D in the skin and sunscreens above factor 8 prevent vitamin D synthesis. But sunshine is also linked with skin ageing and worse still, skin cancer and light skinned people are advised to use sunscreens generously. The problem is not sunlight but excess sunlight. Sunburn is not only painful and unsightly but it can set the scene for skin cancer to develop many years later. A healthy suntan protects the skin from burning. Whole unrefined plant foods contain phytochemicals that help to prevent all kinds of damage, whereas the high sugar, high fat, high animal protein Western diet, along with smoking, alcohol and other immune system depressants, has the opposite effect. To avoid sun damage, follow a healthy lifestyle, develop a protective tan gradually and avoid burning by wearing a hat and cool but covering clothing when out in the strongest sunshine.

Street Talk

Hi Martha, This is another very nice article.

  about 1 decade ago
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