Many people are familiar with vitamin D as the “sunshine vitamin” because it is produced in the body in response to exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D is a type of vitamin essential for the body to absorb calcium. It can be found in food, supplements, and exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to health problems such as osteoporosis and rickets.
The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium. Calcium is necessary for strong bones and teeth. Vitamin D deficiency can cause softening of the bones, which can lead to bowed legs in children (rickets) and fractures in adults (osteoporosis).
Vitamin D can be found in food, supplements, and exposure to sunlight. The best source of vitamin D is exposure to sunlight. However, many people do not get enough sun exposure to meet their needs. Other good sources of vitamin D include fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel; eggs; and fortified milk, yogurt, and orange juice. You can also get vitamin D through supplements.
Vitamin D deficiency is common, especially in people with dark skin or without sun exposure. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to health problems such as osteoporosis and rickets. If you think you may be deficient in vitamin D, talk to your doctor. They can order a blood test to check your level of vitamin D.
Types of Vitamin D
Vitamin D is available in two forms: D2 (ergocalciferol) and D3 (cholecalciferol). Vitamin D3 is the form of vitamin D produced in the body in response to sunlight exposure. Vitamin D3 is also the form of vitamin D found in food sources and supplements.
Vitamin D2 is less effective than vitamin D3 at raising vitamin D levels in the body. For this reason, vitamin D3 is the preferred form of supplementation.