Vitamin D

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Vitamin D is an interesting example, as you don’t need food (technically) to form it, it can be synthesized in the skin. It happens by exposure of cholesterol to UV rays (for which we need to be directly exposed to the sun. Sunscreens and glass windows block UV rays). In other words, vitamin D is sun-damaged cholesterol, and some scientists prefer to call it a pro-hormone rather than a vitamin.

Quick facts

A fat-soluble vitamin that can get stored in the liver (no need to supply it daily as the organism can take it from the magazine – liver)

Regulates calcium absorption in intestines, facilitating its deposition in the bones and has immunomodulatory properties, for which vitamin derivatives are used in skin treatments

Deficiency of vitamin D leads to malabsorption of calcium, as there are no building blocks for the hormone that regulates it. Especially at risk of deficiency are:

  • Infants, who have higher vitamin D demand due to fast bone growth
  • Elderly, mostly because of the decrease in skin synthesis rate
  • Dark-skin and pigmented skin people (sun can’t reach appropriate layers of skin)
  • People with some medical conditions, such as kidney failure, fat malabsorption, inflammatory bowel, and seizures.
vitamin D protect your immune

There are two versions of vitamin: 

  • animal origin (vitamin D3) known as cholecalciferol and 
  • found in plants (vitamin D2) called ergocalciferol 

Tiny amounts of this vitamin can also be obtained from food, such as meats (for vitamin D3) and mushrooms (vitamin D2). In sunny regions laying in a lower latitude, vitamin D requirements are met by just being on the sun for 20-30 minutes daily, and there is no need for supplementation or getting this vitamin from food sources. In fact, it is challenging to meet dietary requirements for vitamin D from food, as it almost entirely synthesized by the skin.

Best source: sunshine (foods with vitamin D have too low content to meet daily requirements)