Micro-nutrients: Vitamin D

Description of Vitamin D, sources, functions, deficiency and excess.

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Vitamin D

Definition:

- stored in the liver and fatty body tissue.

- main form = cholecalciferol, which is found in certain foods and can be produced in the body by the action of sunlight on the skin.

Sources of vitamin D:

- main source is sunlight, sometimes called the 'sunshine vitamin'.

- Ultra-violet light from the sun reacts with a substance in the skin to produce vitamin D.

- Around 15 minutes, 3 days a week in the sun will manufacture it, and then stored.

- Other sources include: dairy produce, liver, oily fish, eggs, breakfast cereals, spreadable fat and margarines.

- Important for children and housebound elderly.

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Functions of vitamin D

- Together with calcium and phosphorus develops and maintains bones and teeth.

- Helps healing of fractured bones.

- Helps prevent brittle bone disease or osteoporosis.

- Helps absorption of calcium from intestine. 

symptoms of excess:

- If a toxic build up occurs, it can cause nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite.

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Symptoms of deficiency

- Rickets: occurs in babies and toddlers, bone is unable to calcify or harden adequately so bends and deforms.

- Osteomalacia: occurs in adults, can cause bones to fracture easily, can cause back pain/leg pain/rib pain.

- Most likely to be developed in young children, pregnant women and breast feeding women due to extra demands on the body.

- People with darker skin are more at risk due to pigmentation in skin which reduces the ability of the skin to manufacture vitamin D from the sunlight.

- Asian ladies most at risk, due to being covered up outside due to religion.

- Elderly people who are house bound or living in a care home are easily lead to deficiency due to not being outside a lot.

- Intestinal problems which reduce the absorption of vitamin D are at risk.

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