Vitamin D: Food sources, Absorption and storage, Functions & Recommended Intake

Vitamin D: Food sources, Absorption and storage, Functions & Recommended Intake

Vitamin D is also called the "sunshine vitamin". This is because it is manufactured from a substance present in our skin on exposure to sunlight. As a result of this, we do not necessarily have to depend on dietary sources of vitamin D. The easiest way of obtaining the vitamin is, in fact, enough exposure to sunlight.

Food Sources

Foods of animal origin like eggs, liver and butter contain the vitamin in significant amounts. It is, however, the fish liver oils which are the richest sources. On the other hand, most of the commonly used foods of plant origin do not contain vitamin D.

Absorption and storage

What happens to vitamin D in the body?

The Vitamin D we take in is absorbed along with fats from the small intestine. Bile is essential for effective absorption of fats and therefore, of vitamin D. Once absorption is completed, Vitamin D enters the bloodstream as a part of the chylomicrons. Vitamin D formed in the skin on exposure to sunlight also enters the bloodstream. Whatever the source, the vitamin is then taken to the liver. Some of it is stored there and the remaining is distributed by the blood to various body tissues.

Functions

You might have heard that vitamin D makes bones strong and healthy. This is absolutely correct. How does vitamin D help in this?

Minerals like calcium and phosphorus, when deposited in the bones, make them strong and hard. The process of deposition of minerals in the bones is termed as mineralization of bones. Vitamin D aids the process of mineralization in two ways:

  • By increasing the absorptioh of calcium and phosphorus and

  • By helping in the deposition of caicium and phosphorus in bones.

Recommended Intake

The recommended IUs for Vitamin D are:

  • children and teens: 600 IU

  • adults up to age 70: 600 IU

  • adults over age 70: 800 IU

  • pregnant or breastfeeding women: 600 IU

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