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Natural Health Glossary
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vitamin d
Photo: vitamin d Vitamin D is a group of steroid vitamins that are naturally produced by the body, and required to absorb calcium. It is unique both because it functions as a prohormone and because the body can synthesize it (as vitamin D3) when sun exposure is adequate.

Deficiency of vitamin D is associated with risk factors for a number of medical problems, including: autoimmune diseases; heart and vascular disease; osteoporosis; obesity; diabetes; certain cancers; depression; infectious diseases; and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, multiple sclerosis, and general cognitive decline.

Vitamin D is found in cholecarciferol, ergocalciferol and calciferol - and found in egg yolk, fatty fish and enriched milk.

Recommended daily intake (Dietary Reference Intakes) amounts are based on the assumption that a person is not getting enough sun exposure to synthesize their own supply. They are typically very low, especially for people with melanin, which hinders the body's own synthesis. Toxicity does not occur until in excess of 50,000 IU are taken daily over a period of months.

You may also hear vitamin D referred to as "the sunshine vitamin".
Vitamin D is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins (along with vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin K). Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed through the intestinal tract with the help of lipids (fats). Because they are more likely to accumulate in the body, they are more likely to lead to hypervitaminosis than are water-soluble vitamins.

Vitamin D found in: fish oils, eggs, plants, milk. Also created by exposure to ultraviolet rays.

Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to hypertension, myocardial infarction, and stroke, as well as other cardiovascular-related diseases, such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, peripheral vascular disease, atherosclerosis, and endothelial dysfunction, in addition to the bone disease (rickets), loss of calcium, and soft teeth and bones. Children who are not getting enough sunshine are increasingly at risk of health concerns such as asthma and early menstruation. As we age, deficiency is correlated with a host of other negative outcomes, including cancers, cognitive decline and dementia, macular degeneration, and more.

Excess results in: anorexia, nausea, and vomiting, excessive urination, excessive thirst, weakness, nervousness, an intense itching sensation and high blood pressure. These outcomes are unlikely to result from spending too much time in the sun, rather from taking too much vitamin D as a supplement (more than 50,000 IU/day over a span of months).
Warnings: Excess of 50,000 IU a day - equal to 1250μg (micrograms)/day - over several months can result in impaired renal function.

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