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Vitamin D Supplements
There is a group of Vitamin D of which D-2 (ergocalciferol), and D -3(cholecalciferol) are chief for nutritional purposes.
The synthesis of Vitamin D occurs in the body under the influence of the ultra-violet rays of the sunlight. The epidermal cells of our skin contain large amounts of provitamin D. It is absorbed in the intestine in the presence of bile and fatty acids. Cholecalciferol undergoes transformation first in the liver and then transported via the blood from liver to the kidney where it undergoes another transformation to a compound which is 3-5 time more active than Vitamin D. This transformation takes place solely in the kidney, and this Vitamin D is thus regarded as a kidney hormone.
A study revealed that woman who live in sunny climes or spend a lot of time outdoors have a decreased risk of getting cancer, as Vitamin D from such exposure will slow cancer cell growth.
• It favors calcium absorption from the intestine by enhancing the rate of active transport of calcium across the intestinal wall.
• It promotes absorption of phosphate.
• It maintains normal structure of bone and helps in resorption of calcium from fully calcified bone and calcification of new bone.
• It governs equilibrium between the bone calcium and blood calcium by controlling mobilization of calcium from the bones.
• It regulates excretion of calcium and handling of phosphate by kidneys.
• It helps in development of normal teeth.
• It is responsible for proper bone growth by promoting endochondral growth of long bones.
• It increases the citrate content of bone, blood and other tissues, and urinary excretion.
Natural Sources of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is unique because it is derived both from sunlight and foods.
• Sunlight: Vitamin D is synthesized by the body by the action of UV rays of sunlight of 7 dehydrocholesterol, which is stored in large abundance in the skin.
• Foods: Vitamin occurs by only in the foods of animal origin. Liver, egg yolk, butter and cheese and some species of fish contain useful amounts. Fish liver oils, although not considered to be a food, are the richest sources of Vitamin D.
• Other sources of vitamin D are foods artificially fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, margarine, vanaspathi and infant foods.
Daily Requirement of Vitamin D
The RDA is 400-800 I.U. (10-20 mcg) for infants below 1 year, 400 I.U. (10 mcg) for children and up to 20 years I.U. (5 mcg) for adults, and 400-800 I.U. (10-20 mcg) for women in latter half of pregnancy and lactating period.
Note: 1 I.U. is equivalent to 0.025 mcg of calciferol.
Vitamin D Deficiency
• Rickets: Vitamin D deficiency leads to rickets, which is usually observed in young children between the age of six months and two years. There is reduced calcification of growing bones. The disease is characterized by growth failure, bone deformity, muscular hypotonia, tetany and convulsions due to hypo-calcemia.
• Osteomalcia: In adults, vitamin D deficiency may result in osteomalacia which occurs mainly in women, especially during pregnancy and lactation when requirements of vitamin D are increased.
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