Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body’s fatty tissue. Other names for vitamin D are:

  • Cholecalciferol 
  • Vitamin D3

How vitamin D works

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. In childhood, our bodies use these minerals for bone growth. If you do not get or absorb enough calcium from the foods you eat and drink, your bones and bone tissues may suffer.

Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis in adults or rickets in children.

Food sources of vitamin D

The body makes vitamin D when the skin is exposed to direct sun. That is why it is often called the sunshine vitamin. Most people get some of their vitamin D needs this way.

Some foods with vitamin D 

  • Fatty fish, such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel are among the best sources. 
  • Beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks have small amounts.  
  • Mushrooms have some.
    • The vitamin D in some mushrooms found in stores is boosted by exposing them to ultraviolet light. 
  • Most milk in the United States has added vitamin D. 
    • Foods made from milk, such as cheese and ice cream, are often not fortified. 
  • Many breakfast cereals and some brands of soy drinks, orange juice, yogurt, and margarine have vitamin D.
    • Check the food label.

Vitamin D supplements

It can be hard to get the needed amount of vitamin D from food sources alone. So, some people may need to take a vitamin D supplement. The vitamin D in supplements and added to foods is often D3 (cholecalciferol).

Your doctor needs to check labs before you start taking supplements. They need to recheck a vitamin D 25 Hydroxy lab within one to two months. The lab level should be around 40 for bone healing.

Side effects of vitamin D

Too much vitamin D can make the intestines absorb too much calcium. This may cause high levels of calcium in the blood.

High level of calcium in the blood can lead to 

  • Calcium deposits in soft tissues, such as the heart and lungs  
  • Confusion and disorientation  
  • Harm to the kidneys  
  • Kidney stones 
  • Nausea (feeling like you need to vomit), vomiting (throwing up), constipation (not able to have a bowel movement), poor appetite (not wanting to eat), weakness, and weight loss
Last reviewed: 
December 2018

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