Vitamin D: Types, Benefits, Deficiency and Food Sources

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin which is necessary for bone health, and in some cases, muscle function. It also helps the body to fight off certain types of cancers and infections.

The body can produce vitamin D when exposed to sunlight. However, many people are deficient in this nutrient because they don’t get enough natural sunlight exposure or because they have dark skin pigmentation which prevents the sun from penetrating their skin.


There are two types of vitamin D: Vitamin D2 and Vitamin D3.

Vitamin D2: It also known as ergocalciferol, is a form of vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D2 is synthesized by the human skin when it is exposed to UV-B radiation from the sun or artificial sources. Vitamin D2 can be found in plants and some fortified foods. It is also found in some foods such as egg yolk, breakfast cereals and cod liver oil.

Vitamin D3: Vitamin D3 is a nutrient known as cholecalciferol, which is essential for bone and immune health. It is made from cholesterol in the skin when it is exposed to ultraviolet B rays from sunlight. It can also help with depression and other mood disorders, as well as muscle strength. Deficiency in this vitamin can lead to rickets in children, osteoporosis in adults, and increased risk of cancer.

We should not get too much or too little vitamin D3 because it can cause problems like high blood pressure, increased risk of heart disease, kidney stones, and other health issues.

Vitamin D2 has a shorter half-life than Vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 lasts in the body for approximately 15 minutes while vitamin d3 lasts in the body for over an hour. There is no evidence that Vitamin D2 is linked to risk of cancer or other health problems.

Recommended Daily Intake

For measuring vitamin D intake, you can use either IU or mcg. One mcg is equivalent to 40 IU.

AgeRecommended daily intake
Infants 0-12 months400 IU (10 mcg)
Children 1-18 years600 IU (15 mcg)
Adults up to 70 years600 IU (15 mcg)
Adults over 70 years800 IU (20 mcg)
Pregnant or lactating women600 IU (15 mcg)

The recommended daily intake level of vitamin D can be found in foods such as mushrooms, eggs, salmon and cod liver oil. It’s also produced by the skin when exposed to sunlight.


The following are some of the benefits of Vitamin D:

  • Helps promote strong bones
  • Helps promote muscle function
  • Helps fight off certain types of cancers
  • Helps fight off infections
  • Helps fight against depression
  • May help prevent anemia
  • May help improve sleep quality
  • Reduces risk of hypertension

Roles of vitamin D in the body

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for the body’s absorption of calcium and phosphorus, which are important for healthy teeth and bones. It also helps keep our bones and teeth healthy. There are two main sources of vitamin D: sun exposure and diet.

The important roles of vitamin D in body processes are:

  • It regulate the immune system
  • Supports muscle function
  • Assists with brain development
  • Keeps our heart healthy

Vitamin D in infants

Vitamin D is a nutrient that is needed for the body to absorb calcium, which helps build and maintain strong bones. Vitamin D is essential for bone mineralization and for normal functioning of the immune system.

Infants are at an increased risk of developing vitamin D deficiency because of their limited exposure to sunlight, their inability to synthesize vitamin D from sunlight, and the fact that they are usually fed only breast milk or infant formula and their skin has lower levels of 7-dehydrocholesterol (7DHC), which is converted into vitamin D by exposure to ultraviolet light.

In infants, Vitamin D deficiency can lead to impaired bone growth, rickets, and other bone diseases.

Vitamin D in Pregnancy

It’s been found that pregnant women are at a higher risk of developing vitamin D deficiency than non-pregnant women because they’re not able to get enough sunlight exposure due to increased risk of skin cancer and their skin’s tendency to produce less vitamin D when exposed to sunlight because it becomes more sensitive during pregnancy.

The recommended intake of vitamin D during pregnancy is 600 IU per day or 15 mcg per day, but it may be difficult to get enough from diet alone. If your doctor recommends taking a supplement, it’s best to choose one that provides at least 600 IU per tablet or capsule.


Vitamin D is the nutrient that provides many of the benefits of sunlight. It is essential for bone health, immune system function, and prevention of chronic diseases.

Health problems: Vitamin D deficiency can lead to a variety of health problems including: rickets, osteoporosis, muscle weakness, depression, bone pain, fractures, heart disease and cancer.

Darker skin: People who have darker skin need more time in the sun than those with lighter skin to produce adequate levels of vitamin D.

Northern countries: Those who live in northern countries are at risk because they are not exposed to enough sunlight during the winter months.

Medical conditions: People with certain medical conditions such as Crohn’s disease or cystic fibrosis may also be at risk for vitamin D deficiency because they may have difficulty absorbing it from food sources or synthesizing it when exposed to sunlight.

The best way to get enough vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight. However, in some parts of the world this may not be possible due to limited sun exposure or heavy clothing. In these areas it’s important to supplement with vitamin D or consume foods that are rich in it such as eggs, fish or mushrooms.

Read more on Vitamin D Deficiency


Vitamin D deficiency is a serious health condition. It can lead to some serious conditions like osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.

The symptoms of vitamin D deficiency are often ignored because they are not very specific and the person might not know that it is related to their vitamin D levels.

The most common symptom of vitamin D deficiency include:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle pain or weakness
  • Depression

Other symptoms include:

  • Pins and needles in hands or feet
  • Muscle cramps or pain
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Dry, rough skin that may peel easily
  • Poor appetite and weight loss
  • Bone pain or tenderness
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle spasms or twitching

Food Sources

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in the human body. It helps the body to absorb calcium and phosphorous, which are necessary for bone development. It also reduces inflammation, improves cardiovascular health and protects against certain cancers.

The major food sources of Vitamin D are:

Vitamin D3 is found in animal sources and fortified foods, where as Vitamin D2 is found in plant sources.


The body produces vitamin D due to sun exposure. Many foods and supplements also contain vitamin D. The vitamin plays an important role in maintaining bones, teeth, and optimal immune function.

A vitamin D deficiency can lead to calcium deficiency and hyperparathyroidism, which can result in increased levels of calcium and cause other serious health complications.