August 24, 2016

Answers FAQ

Vitamin D FAQs

Reviewed by Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD on March 8, 2016

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Q:What does vitamin D do?

A:Vitamin D has many important functions in the body and is important in maintaining overall health.

It also helps brain function, contributes to strong bones, and aids in fighting infection. The body uses vitamin D to regulate the amount of calcium in the bloodstream.

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Q:The human body is designed to obtain its vitamin D from sunlight. True or false?

A:True.

The body produces vitamin D on its own when bare skin is exposed to sunlight. Taking vitamin D supplements are another way to get vitamin D. Some foods contains vitamin D, but food alone will not provide enough vitamin D.

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Q:Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium. True or false?

A:True.

Vitamin D is essential for the body to absorb calcium from foods. Without adequate vitamin D levels, the body takes calcium from the bones, weakening them and preventing new bone from being formed. Calcium is critical for many body processes, including proper function of the heart, nerves, and muscles as well as blood clotting. Most people do not get the amount of calcium they need to maintain healthy bones.

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Q:What are signs and symptoms of vitamin D deficiency?

A:The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency can be nonspecific such as fatigue, aches, and pains.

Other people who have vitamin D deficiency may not notice any symptoms. People with a severe vitamin D deficiency can have symptoms like bone pain, weakness, and frequent infections. Other symptoms can include gum disease and frequent fractures of the bones.

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Q:What is rickets?

A:Rickets is a disease of children and adolescents that affects growing bone.

It leads to soft, weak bones that can cause deformity and short stature. Rickets results from the failure of growing bone to calcify properly. Some severe cases have been associated with respiratory failure.

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Q:What are foods that are high in vitamin D?

A:There are very few foods that are naturally high in vitamin D.

Most vitamin D in American diets comes from fortified foods (food to which vitamin D has been added, such as milk). Fatty fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon are among the foods naturally highest in vitamin D. Mushrooms also have some natural vitamin D content. In addition to milk, other foods to which vitamin D is typically added include breakfast cereals and some types of orange juice and yogurt.

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Q:Can a person have too much vitamin D?

A:Yes.

It is possible to have too much vitamin D. This most commonly occurs when people take too many vitamin D supplements. Signs of vitamin D toxicity can include decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, weakness, constipation, and weight loss. Too much vitamin D can also raise calcium levels that can lead to heart rhythm disturbances, confusion, and disorientation.

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Q:Some studies show that vitamin D helps with weight loss. True or false?

A:True.

A study from the University of Milan found that taking vitamin D supplements led to weight loss in obese and overweight people who had vitamin D deficiency. The researchers believe that vitamin D supplements help weight loss and enhances the effects of a lower-calorie diet. The researchers suggest that obese people should be checked for vitamin D deficiency and if the condition is present, begin taking supplements.

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