Nutrient Information: Vitamin D (D2 + D3), International Units

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Nutrient Key Information 
Nutrient Name: Vitamin D (D2 + D3), International Units
Nutrient Category: Vitamins and Other Components
Measuring Unit: IU
Nutrient Summary: Vitamin D is related to bone health. It is naturally found in very few foods. It is primarily synthesized in the skin through exposure to ultraviolet B rays in sunlight. You should get more Vitamin D to help your body absorb calcium and phosphorus.
Nutrient Function: Vitamin D's dietary forms are vitamin D2 and vitamin D3:

Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol):
Mainly from plant, such as UV lighted mushroom.

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol):
1) From animal, such as fatty fish and liver.
2) Vitamin D3 is mainly synthesized in the skin when the body is exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun (note: skins do not make vitamin D from sunlight through a window). The ability of synthesizing vitamin D in the skin decreases when a person is aging. The Vitamin D recommended daily value is based on the assumption of minimal sunlight exposure.

Both Vitamin D2 and D3 need to be activated in the liver then in the kidney. Liver or kidney diseases may interfere with the activation of vitamin D and produce symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D3 is more effective than vitamin D2 at raising Vitamin D status (calcifediol) in the blood. Vitamin D's main targeting organs are the intestine, kidney, and bones.

Bone Health Benefits:
Vitamin D plays the role of assisting in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the bone-making and maintenance process, so that bones can grow denser and stronger. It can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. Vitamin D also stimulates calcium retention (reabsorption) by kidneys.

Vitamin D's other functions:
• In brain and nerve cells, it helps nervous system function in carrying messages between brain and body.
• It helps immune function in fighting off bacteria and viruses.
• In cellular metabolism, it plays the role of antiproliferation and prodifferentiation hormone.
• Vitamin D is important for a healthy heart and blood vessels and for normal blood pressure.

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient. The fat-soluble vitamins are transported by proteins. They are held in fatty tissues and the liver, and released as needed.

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Food Sources

First of all, outdoor sunlight (ultraviolet B rays) exposure is the most effective way to get Vitamin D. Note: the required exposure time depends on the geolocation, season of the year, skin color, and sunscreen level. Make sure to use sunscreen when staying in the sun for extended time periods, such as more than 10 minutes. Prolonged exposure to sunlight may cause skin cancer. However, sunscreen can reduce vitamin D synthesis.

Food Sources:
• Fatty fish: such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, trout, and tuna
• Fish-liver oils and cod liver oil
• Eggs from hens fed vitamin D
• Liver
• Pork
• Mushrooms (grown in UV light)
• Vitamin D fortified foods, such as:
dairy products: milk
orange juice
ready-to-eat cereals
plant-based beverages (e.g., soy, rice, and almond)

As a fat-soluble nutrient, it is recommended to be taken with a meal containing fats for better absorption.

Sample Foods High in: Vitamin D (D2 + D3), International Units
View Additional Food Sources
Food Description Nutrient Amount1 Daily Value%2
Fish, trout, rainbow, farmed, cooked, dry heat
Category: Finfish and Shellfish Products
759 IU
Fish, salmon, chinook, smoked
Category: Finfish and Shellfish Products
685 IU
Cheese, pasteurized process, American, vitamin D fortified
Category: Dairy and Egg Products
301 IU
Fish, sardine, Atlantic, canned in oil, drained solids with bone
Category: Finfish and Shellfish Products
193 IU
Pork, fresh, spareribs, separable lean and fat, cooked, braised
Category: Pork Products
104 IU
1 Nutrient amount is in 100 gram food
2 Use FDA 2000 calorie diet as Daily Value reference

Additional Nutrient Information
Nutrient Summary Vitamin D is related to bone health. It is naturally found in very few foods. It is primarily synthesized in the skin through exposure to ultraviolet B rays in sunlight. You should get more Vitamin D to help your body absorb calcium and phosphorus.
Deficiency Health Effects Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common nutrient deficiencies, especially for the people staying indoors all the times. It impairs normal bone metabolism.

• For children, Vitamin D deficiency may cause rickets, a bone disease common in children in developing countries. The Vitamin D deficiency causes bone calcification abnormally, the bones are too weak to support the body weight, so they bend.
• For older adults, Vitamin D deficiency reduces mineral density in bones and may cause osteoporosis. It can cause bone pain, muscle weakness, and increased risk of falls and fractures. Older adults' skin is less capable of generating Vitamin D3, and liver and kidneys are less capable of activating Vitamin D.

Vitamin D supplements can help to raise Vitamin D level in blood.

Some studies indicate that people with low vitamin D levels have a greater risk of heart disease, diabetes (types 1 and 2), cancer, dementia, and autoimmune diseases. However some studies found Vitamin D level doesn't have effect to these diseases. More research is needed in these areas.
Effects if Above Upper Limit Excessive amounts of vitamin D in the body may cause Vitamin D toxicity. Excessive Vitamin D causes excessive calcium, as a result, calcium may be built up in the blood and kidney. If buildup in blood, the person may feel nausea and vomiting, weakness, and frequent urination, in more serious case, calcification may harden the blood vessels which are dangerous for heart, etc. If build up in kidney, it may cause calcium kidney stones or even reduce renal function.

There is no evidence that sun exposure will cause vitamin D toxicity because skin can automatically limit the amount of Vitamin D3 it forms. Usually large doses of vitamin D supplements, not by diet or sun exposure, causes the Vitamin D toxicity.
External References
Additional Information The recommended daily value assumes a person has limited sun exposure.

Dietary Reference Intakes The nutrient Dietary Reference Intakes and nutrition facts is from Institute of Medicine of National Academies 2006. Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
US FDA Nutrition Education Nutrition facts knowledge are based on U.S. FOOD & DRUG Administration Nutrition Education Resources & Materials.
National Institutes of Health Nutrition facts knowledge are based on National Institutes of Health Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets.
Disclaimer The nutrient information provided here should not take the place of medical advice. We encourage you to talk to your healthcare providers (such as your doctor) about your dietary requirements which are best for your overall health. We also recommend you to read organization or professional reference documents or articles mentioned, but not limited to, in this page. Any mentions and reference links in this page don't represent our endorsement of their services and advice.

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