Vitamin D and Baselining Your Health

Video Topic : Vitamin D has long been linked to bone health; when researchers discovered that rickets was caused by a deficiency of the vitamin, public health experts urged the fortification of this staple with vitamin D, which made milk, already naturally rich in calcium, virtually synonymous with bone health. More recently, however, researchers are finding more evidence that vitamin D is a critical nutrient; it is also essential for muscle, nerve and immune system function and may play roles in cancer, dementia and depression. Vitamin D is also produced by skin cells, in the presence of sunlight, though our ability to manufacture the vitamin declines with age. Different forms of vitamin D can be measured in the blood (including active versions and inactive precursors); testing is likely to increase as research reveals the importance of the vitamin to overall health.

Vitamin D

Also called: Cholecalciferol, Ergocalciferol

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium. Calcium is one of the main building blocks of bone. A lack of vitamin D can lead to bone diseases such as osteoporosis or rickets. Vitamin D also has a role in your nerve, muscle, and immune systems.

You can get vitamin D in three ways: through your skin, from your diet, and from supplements. Your body forms vitamin D naturally after exposure to sunlight. However, too much sun exposure can lead to skin aging and skin cancer. So many people try to get their vitamin D from other sources.

Vitamin D-rich foods include egg yolks, saltwater fish, and liver. Some other foods, like milk and cereal, often have added vitamin D.

You can also take vitamin D supplements. Check with your health care provider to see how much you should take. People who might need extra vitamin D include

  • Seniors
  • Breastfed infants
  • People with dark skin
  • People with certain conditions, such as liver diseases, cystic fibrosis and Crohn's disease
  • People who are obese or have had gastric bypass surgery

NIH: National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements

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