Why Vitamin D is essential for health

Photograph of Cod Liver Oil capsules.

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Vitamin D is a nutrient hormone although it’s not a vitamin in the classic sense. Vitamin D exists as an inactive prohormone until it is metabolized within the body to a steroid hormone. Deficiencies of vitamin D have been found to contribute to various cancers and autoimmune diseases, particularly conditions of type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and psoriasis. Recent studies indicate that there’s a critical need for testing blood levels of vitamin D.

Sources of Vitamin D

About 80 percent of the body’s supply of vitamin D is produced photochemically when ultraviolet radiation from sunlight reacts with a precursor chemical found in the skin. The end product is vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol. The liver metabolizes vitamin D3 into calcidiol, which is the main form of vitamin D that circulates in the blood. The kidneys then convert calcidiol into compounds that bind with protein. Linked to protein, vitamin D travels to various organs within the body.

With age, the body’s ability to manufacture vitamin D declines. Sunblocks, cloud covers, and pollution also reduce absorption of vitamin D. Recent studies show that vitamin D deficiency is widespread, especially among minority groups. Levels of vitamin D are also low in celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and in pancreatic enzyme insufficiency. Besides sunlight, vitamin D is available from cod liver oil, fatty fish, and vitamin D-fortified milk.

Functions of Vitamin D

Vitamin D maintains blood levels of both calcium and phosphorus. These minerals are essential for the support of normal neuromuscular function and skeletal mineralization. Without adequate vitamin D, calcium is leached from blood, causing rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. In addition, low calcium levels (hypocalcemia) can lead to low levels of parathyroid hormone (hypoparathyroidism).

At the Cellular Level

At the cellular level, vitamin D supplementation can help prevent or reduce disease progression. In certain malignancies, such as prostate cancer, vitamin D acts as an anti-inflammatory agent by downregulating the enzyme cyclo-oxygenase II. Vitamin D also downregulates pro-inflammatory cytokines and increases levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines. In recent prostate cancer studies, the addition of vitamin D to chemotherapeutic agents resulted in markedly improved outcomes.

Blood Levels

In general, levels of at least 80 nmol or 32 ng/ml are needed to maintain health. The adequate intakes are 200 IU (5 mg) daily up to age 50 and 400 IU (10 mg) for people between the ages of 51 and 70. After age 70, the recommended intake of vitamin D is 600 IU (15 mg) daily.


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Vitamin D absorption

Milk

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According to new study consumption your vitamin D supplement with the largest meal of the day may boost its absorption substantially.

What does vitamin d do

Vitamin D is an important vitamin that not only regulates calcium, but also has many other beneficial actions.

Vitamin D may protect against heart disease and some types of cancer. Vitamin D may also have some role in regulating the immune system and also reducing blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes. Proper vitamin D levels are needed to prevent osteoporosis. In conclusion, proper vitamin D levels are essential for one’s health, especially if you have thyroid problems. Unless a patient is exposed to sunlight or foods containing vitamin D, screening for Vitamin D deficiency is recommended for all thyroid patients. So it is important is vitamin D absorption factor.

Take Vitamin D with largest meal

Absorption increases by 50% when Vitamin D is taken with biggest meal.

Trials in Cleveland Clinic studied 17 men and women, average age 64, whose blood levels of vitamin D were borderline insufficient despite taking supplements, to take their supplements with the largest meal of the day.

After two or three months, the study participants had about a 50% increase in blood levels of the vitamin, regardless of the dose they took.

Researchers Guy B. Mulligan, MD, and Angelo Licata, MD, had noticed that patients in general take the supplement either on an empty stomach or with a light meal.

Because the vitamin D is fat-soluble, the researchers conjectured that taking it with a big meal would improve absorption.

Vitamin D is essential not only to keep bone strength, but studies now suggests it plays a role in immune system problems, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

The researchers measured blood levels of the vitamin in begin of the study and two or three months later. Participants took a range of doses, and the researchers divided them into three groups: less than 50,000 IU a week, 50,000 IU, and more than 50,000 IU. The daily doses varied from 1,000 IU to 50,000 IU.

A dose of 400 IU is termed adequate for people 51-70, and 600 IU for people 71 and older, as set by the Institute of Medicine, but some researchers believe much more is needed, especially in older adults. The current upper tolerable level is set at 2,000 IU daily. The recommendations are under review and an update is expected very soon.

At the study start, the average blood level of the form of vitamin D measured, 25(OH)D, was 30.5 nanograms per milliliter. By the end, it was 47.2 ng/mL. A level of 15 and higher is termed adequate by the Institute of Medicine for healthy people, but the study participants had a range of health problems, such as osteoporosis and thyroid problems.

Sources of Vitamin D

Few foods contain vitamin D naturally, and some foods are fortified with it. Vitamin D synthesis is also triggered when the body is exposed to sunlight.
Vitamin D is really two different compounds, cholecalciferol (vitamin D2), found mainly in plants and ergocalciferol (vitamin D3), found mainly in animals. Both of these hormones are collectively referred to as vitamin D, and they can either be obtained in two ways. One is by exposure of the skin to the ultraviolet (UV) rays of sunlight or also from dietary intake.
Vitamin D is found naturally in fish (such as salmon and sardines) and fish oils, eggs and cod liver oil. However most Vitamin D is obtained from foods fortified with Vitamin D, especially milk and orange juice. Interestingly, as breast feeding has become more popular, the incidence of Vitamin D deficiency has increased as less fortified milk is consumed.

Vitamin D deficiency may also occur in patients with malabsorption from their intestine, such as in the autoimmune disease called Celiac Disease, which occurs frequently in patients with thyroid problems. Multivitamins also contain Vitamin D, as does some calcium supplements like Oscal-D and Citracal plus D.

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Teens in South Getting Too Little Vitamin D

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Vitamin D deficiency are commonly observed in children in northern states, often due to insufficient sunlight and dietary intake.
But emerging research indicates that young people who live in the South, where sunlight is ample, also have low vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D promotes bone growth and other important body functions. The body uses sunshine to make vitamin D, and it is also found in some foods.

Vitamin D and Teens

Researchers measured vitamin D levels in 559 African-American and white adolescents between 14 and 18 in Augusta, Ga., which gets plenty of sunlight year-round. Vitamin D levels were tested in all four seasons of the year.

Kids were excluded if they were taking medications or had chronic medical conditions that might affect growth and development or affect study results.

Of the 559 participants, 49% were female, 51% male, 45% African-American, and 55% white.

Researchers say participants were in various stages of maturation and that 268 of the 274 girls had started menstruation.

About half (56.4 %) of the youths tested had vitamin D insufficiency,
meaning the level was low but not affecting health. But 28.8% had vitamin D deficiency – a level low enough to cause health problems.

The vitamin D levels were lowest in winter. But African-American teenagers had significantly lower vitamin D levels in every season of the year, compared to white teens.

Also, adolescents with a higher body mass index had lower
vitamin D levels.

Vitamin D Deficiency Higher in African-Americans

Overall, the researchers write, vitamin D levels were higher in white
children than in African-American teens, and higher in boys than girls.

Researchers report that:

  • Vitamin D insufficiency rates were 94.3% in African-American girls and
    83.1% in African-American boys, compared with 29.6% in white girls and 30.3% in
    white boys.
  • Vitamin D deficiency rates were 73.8% in African-American girls and 46.9%
    in African-American boys, compared with only 2.6% in white girls and 3.9% in
    white boys.
  • Severe vitamin D deficiency was found only in African-American adolescents,
    or 5.2%.
  • In summer, no white kids had vitamin D deficiency, but 55% of
    African-American youths did.

Adults Need Vitamin D, Too

Vitamin D deficiency can result in thin, brittle, or misshapen bones; having enough Vitamin D can prevent rickets in kids. It also helps
to protect older adults from osteoporosis.

Researchers say their study is one of the first to investigate vitamin D
status in children in the southern part of the U.S. in African-Americans as well as whites.

They also say that low levels of vitamin D is a growing national problem for young people in the U.S. regardless of where they live.

“One of the key findings in our study is that a substantial proportion of
black adolescents may be at risk for low vitamin D status not only in winter but throughout the year,” the researchers write.

Researchers say more work is needed to investigate the implications for low vitamin D status and how to improve the situation.

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Vitamin D May Cut Pregnancy Risks

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Women who take high doses of vitamin D during pregnancy have a greatly reduced risk of complications, including gestational diabetes,
preterm birth, and infection, new research suggests.

Based on the findings, study researchers are recommending that pregnant women take 4,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D every day — at least 10 times the amount recommended by various health groups.
Women in the study who took 4,000 IU of the vitamin daily in their second and third trimesters showed no evidence of harm, but they had half the rate of pregnancy-related complications as women who took 400 IU of vitamin D every day, says neonatologist and study co-researcher Carol L. Wagner, MD, of the Medical University of South Carolina.

Wagner acknowledges the recommendation may be controversial because very high doses of vitamin D have long been believed to cause birth defects.

“Any doctor who hasn’t followed the literature may be wary of telling their
patients to take 4,000 IU of vitamin D,” she says. “But there is no evidence
that vitamin D supplementation is toxic, even at levels above 10,000 IU.”

Fewer Complications With High Vitamin D Doses

Most prenatal vitamins have around 400 IU of vitamin D, and most health
groups recommend taking no more than 2,000 IU of the vitamin in supplement form daily. Wagner says it took months to get permission to do a study in which pregnant women were given doses of the vitamin that were twice as high as this.

The study included about 500 women in Charleston, S.C., who were in their
third or fourth months of pregnancy. The women took 400 IU, 2,000 IU, or 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily until they delivered.

Not surprisingly, women who took the highest doses of vitamin D were the
least likely to have deficient or insufficient blood levels of the vitamin, as
were their babies.

These women also had the lowest rate of pregnancy-related complications.

Compared to women who took 400 IU of vitamin D daily, those who took 4,000
IU were half as likely to develop gestational diabetes, pregnancy-related high
blood pressure, or preeclampsia, Wagner says. They were also less likely to
give birth prematurely.

The research was presented over the weekend at the annual meeting of the
Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Infants with very low vitamin D levels are at increased risk for soft bones,
or rickets – a condition that is now rare in the U.S.

But over the last decade, more and more studies suggest that vitamin D also
protects against immune system disorders and other diseases, Wagner says.

Fortified milk and fatty fish are common food sources of vitamin D, but most
people get only a small fraction of the vitamin D they need through food,
Wagner says. Instead, the body makes vitamin D from sunlight.

But even in sunny climates like Charleston, few people are now getting
adequate levels of vitamin D from sun exposure.

At the start of the study, deficient or insufficient levels of vitamin D
were seen in 94% of the African-American women, 66% of Hispanic women, and 50% of white women who participated.

Vitamin D and Pregnancy: Is More Better?

University of Rochester professor of pediatrics Ruth Lawrence, MD, has been
recording vitamin D levels in new mothers and their infants for three years.
She did not take part in the new study.

Lawrence, who chairs the breastfeeding committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics, says exclusively breastfed babies whose mothers have low vitamin D levels and who don’t take vitamin supplements are most likely to be deficient.

“It is clear that both for mothers and their babies, vitamin D levels are
low,” she tells WebMD. “This is true in northern areas like Rochester and in
sunny climates like Charleston.”

Lawrence sees no problem with the recommendation that women take 4,000 IU of vitamin D daily during pregnancy, although she says the impact of high doses of vitamin D on pregnancy-related complications remains to be proven.

“Four thousand IU may sound outrageous to some, but I believe it is really
not unreasonable,” she says.

“We have been searching for the causes of preeclampsia and premature birth
for many years. It is reassuring that the risk of these complications are lower
for women taking extra vitamin D, but it is premature to say it is the
cause.”

The independent health policy group the Institute of Medicine recommends 200 IU to 400 IU of vitamin D a day for everyone, including pregnant women, but this recommendation is under review. Revised guidelines are expected late this summer.

SOURCES: Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting, Vancouver, British Columbia,

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How Vitamin D Controls Calcium

Calcium is known as the bone-building nutrient. But some experts pointed that we should pay more attention to exercise and vitamin D.

Blood calcium levels must be maintained within a narrow range for normal nervous system functioning and maintenance of bone density. Blood calcium levels are especially vital in childhood during bone growth.
There are relationship also between calcium, vitamin D and osteoporosis.
Vitamin D as calcitriol is an essential for regulation of blood calcium and phosphorus levels. Bone health and regulation is also assisted by vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, the hormone calcitonin, parathyroid hormone, and magnesium.

Calcium levels are sensed by the parathyroid glands.
If blood levels of calcium fall too low, the parathyroid glands secrete parathyroid hormone. The parathyroid hormone stimulates production of an enzyme in the kidneys. This enzyme increases the transformation of calcidiol to calcitriol. Calcitriol is a potent hormone that increases blood calcium levels.
Increased blood levels of calcitriol cause increased absorption of calcium from food in the intestines. The kidneys also reduce losses of calcium in the urine in response to increased levels of calcitriol.

It’s very important to keep optimum levels of calcium in the blood and for that matter a healthy and balanced diet is required.

In many cases, calcium can be mobilized from bones if dietary levels of calcium are insufficient. Increased release of calcium from the bones requires parathyroid hormone in addition to calcitriol.
Calcium and vitamin D are present in many liquid calcium supplements.. These two nutrients work together to help in the prevention of many diseases.

Most of the degenerative diseases are caused due to calcium deficiency but of course calcium deficiency is ultimately linked with deficiency of vitamin D.

CAlcium deficiency can occur with poor diet, abnormal parathyroid function (gland that regulates blood calcium levels), kidney failure, and vitamin D or magnesium deficiency.
Symptoms of deficiency include bone loss and weakening, muscle cramps, heart palpitations, tooth decay, back and leg pain, insomnia, nervous isorders, and rickets (bone deformities in children).

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FACTS ON CALCIUM AND VITAMIN D:

  • Eighty percent of American women are deficient in calcium.
  • Most of the calcium in the body, about 99 percent, is found in the bones andteeth. Only one percent is found in the blood and soft tissue.
  • You need calcium along with Vitamin D to build strong bones and keep them that way throughout your life.

Vitamins and minerals in mushroom

Mushroom Wisdom Super Cordyceps 120 CpMushrooms are great natural sources of many vitamins and minerals. For example, cooked mushrooms are an excellent source of niacin and a good source of riboflavin.

Mushrooms are fleshy fungi, only some of which are edible. They usually have thick stems and rounded caps with radiating gills on the underside.
Mushrooms can be eaten raw or cooked. White and Enoki mushrooms can be added raw to fresh green salads.
Porcini mushrooms can be cooked with pork or chicken or combined with vegetables, rice, or pasta.   Shiitakes are traditionally added to stir-fries and other sian dishes. Portabella mushrooms often are sliced, grilled, and served as an appetizer, added to sandwiches, or stuffed with any number of ingredients and baked.
Some mushroom varieties are also available canned or dried.
The nutritional value of a mushroom includes being low in calories and high in vegetable proteins, iron, fiber, zinc, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals.
Health benefits and value of mushrooms differs from the type of mushrooms.

Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake has been considered as the “Elixir of Life”. This mushroom has been found as anti-cancer food by the FDA of Japan. Lentinan founded in Shiitake is known to have some effect on bowel, stomach, liver and lung cancer. It boosts the production of T lymphocytes and other natural killer cells and reduces the negative health effects of AIDS.
Shiitake mushrooms include anti-oxidants such as uric acid, selenium and vitamin A, C, D and E. Shiitake mushrooms has been found to lower blood pressure for people with hypertension. In additional to the above nutritional benefits, the rich nutrition value of Shiitake mushroom is known to lower serum cholesterol levels and helps increase libido.

Maitake Mushroom

In Japan and China, Maitake Mushrooms have been eaten for the past 3000 years. Since history, the consumption of Maitake mushroom was believed to lower high blood pressure and prevents risk of cancer. Recent scientific researches have found that extracts of the Maitake Mushroom can control the growth of cancerous tumors and boost the immune system of almost all the cancerous mice used in the experiment.

Cordyceps Mushroom

Vitamins and minerals contained in Cordyceps mushroom strengthen the immune system, increase abilities to fight against viral and bacteria infection. Cordyceps is effective for treatment of high cholesterol, impotence, lung cancer, and kidney failure.
Consumption of cordyceps mushroom causes the human muscle to relax. Vitamins, minerals and other nutrients of cordycept are benefit for treating coughs, asthma, and other bronchial conditions as it relax muscles.

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H1N1 flu linked to Vitamin D deficiency

A recent University of Colorado study, of 18,000 people, shows those with higher levels of vitamin D appear to be better protected against the (Swine Flu) and seasonal flu.

Vitamin D deficiency is a widespread and common problem that causes chronic conditions, debilitating diseases and, in some cases, death. Over one million people die each year from vitamin D deficiency most likely due to not getting enough sun exposure because of skin cancer fears. The irony is that Vitamin D actually prevents cancer and other diseases including the swine flu.

The groups most affected by the H1N1 swine flu virus have been those most likely to be vitamin D deficient: pregnant women, obese people, those with Type II diabetes and children with neurological disorders.

Research on the Vitamin’s flu-prevention benefits have been around for the past 30 years. It was back in 1981 that R Edgar Hope Simpson first proposed that a principal cause of seasonal influenza is linked with the deficiency of solar radiation which triggers the production of vitamin D in the skin. Much of this hypothesis is based on the notion that Vitamin D deficiency is most commonly seen during the winter months when sunlight is at a premium.

Doctors recommend taking Vitamin D regularly to boost your immune system during winter season. Vitamin D is produced in the body during exposure to sunlight. During the winter we tend to get less exposure to sunlight.

People who take vitamin D supplements have better luck avoiding the seasonal flu; there is no reason to think that it won’t do the same for H1N1 virus. Flu outbreaks tend to occur in places where solar radiation is low.

Many doctors are beginning to recommend a daily supplement of vitamin D of anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D3 daily, especially in the winter.


Vitamin deficiency and thyroid

The thyroid gland is located at the base of your neck, below your Adam’s apple.
Thyroid hormones regulate the burning of energy in the body by controlling the rate that oxygen burns in the cells.

This regulates the metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Thyroid hormones increase the burning of fats and regulate the burning of carbohydrates. The thyroid is closely linked to your immune system.

When the thyroid gland cannot produce enough thyroid hormones then hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid occurs. This causes all bodily functions to slow down and you feel tired, sluggish, achy, and gain weight.

The most common cause of hypothyroidism was iodine deficiency. Deficient in selenium may hamper thyroid hormone levels. Zinc deficiency in humans can cause thyroid problems. Calcium levels are sensed by the parathyroid glands.

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Deficiency of almost any vitamins closely connected with thyroid health. Many nutrients are required to produce thyroid hormone.

Vitamins B complex have proven especially potent in getting the thyroid back up to task when faced with problems. Other vitamins proven potent agents in helping the thyroid are anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C, E, and coenzyme Q10. Vitamins B and C are considered especially important, along side copper, zinc, and amino acid tyrosine, to help the thyroid in its basic functioning.

Studies also show that vitamin D is utilized in the brain by the brain-pituitary-thyroid axis, the interactions of which stimulate thyroxine production by the thyroid.

This potent combination of vitamins and supplements should prove enough to fix any thyroid issue one might face.

Foods to avoid vitamins deficiency related to thyroid problem

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, and kale contain goitrogens, which interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis. Cooking usually inactivates these goitrogens, so this is the rare case where cooked is preferred over raw.

Tap water contains fluorine and chlorine, which can inhibit the body’s ability to absorb iodine.

Thyromine – resolving your thyroid problem

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Vitamin B1(Thiamin) deficiency

Why we need Thiamin

Thiamin helps regulate nerve growth, stimulates brain action, and memory. Helps convert food to energy. It required for nerve and muscle function, enzyme reactions, and fatty acid production.

Thiamin also keeps our brain and nervous system fueled up. Human brain runs on glucose, a type of sugar that’s made from the carbohydrates you eat. Thiamin helps our brain and nervous system absorb enough glucose. Without it, they take in only half of what they really need.

And when your brain doesn’t get enough fuel, you start to get forgetful, depressed, tired, and apathetic.
Thiamin also helps keep heart muscles elastic and working smoothly, which help heart pumping strongly and evenly, with just the right number of beats.

Vitamin B1 is indispensable for the health of the entire nervous system; prevents fatigue and increases stamina; prevents edema and fluid retention, also aids in digestion and metabolism.

Causes of Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) deficiency and symptoms

Vitamin B1 deficiency can result from inadequate food intake.
Deficiency causes beriberi, a disease that affects cardiovascular, nervous, muscular, and gastrointestinal systems.

Thiamin deficiency is common among alcoholics, who often have inadequate food intakes. Alcohol provides energy without providing many of the necessary nutrients. Alcohol also impairs the absorption of thiamin, while increasing excretion of thiamin.
Extreme thiamin deficiency can lead to an enlarged heart, weight loss, muscular weakness, poor short-term memory, and cardiac failure.

Some people are at high risk of Vitamin B1 deficiency: elderly who don’t eat well and don’t get enough thiamin in their diets; pregnant or breastfeeding women; diabetics.

How to avoid Vitamin B2 deficiency

But in fact most people, even the ones with the health issues listed here, do get enough thiamin. A real deficiency is pretty rate.

Wheat germ, liver, pork, whole & enriched grains, dried beans
Good sources of thiamin are pork, liver, fish, oranges, peas, peanut butter, wheat germ, beans, and whole grains.

Enzymes present in raw fish and shellfish destroy thiamin. Also, tannins in tea and coffee can oxidize thiamin, reducing the availability of thiamin in the diet.


Vitamin D3 deficiency

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What is Vitamin D3?

Vitamin D3 you make in your body from sunshine. It also called cholecalciferol. Vitamin D3 is made by skin when the skin is exposed to direct sunlight containing the B form of ultraviolet radiation (UVB).
Cholecalciferol is the form used in many supplements and is sometimes used in food fortification.
Vitamin D3, whether taken as a supplement or made in the skin from sunlight, is biologically inactive. Vitamin D3, is circulated to the liver through the bloodstream. In the liver cholecalciferol is hydroxylated (hydrogen and oxygen are added) to form calcidiol, the storage form of vitamin D.

Why we need Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 serves a number of functions in the human body. Vitamin D3 helps the body absorb calcium, and this helps to maintain strong and healthy bones.
Vitamin D3 helps bones mend and heal after injury. Vitamin D3 can help reduce inflammation in the body.
Recent researches have shown vitamin D3 may also help prevent high blood pressure as well as some types of cancer.

Vitamin D3 deficiency symptoms
Certain diseases can develop in result of vitamin D3 deficiency. First of all, shortage of vitamin D3 in her blood causes rickets, a disease that causes bones to become deformed. Without enough vitamin D3 bones may become thin and brittle. An individual with a vitamin D3 deficiency is at a higher risk of developing osteoporosis. A deficiency in vitamin D3 can also cause chronic muscle weakness.

Vitamin D3 food sources
Unlike other nutrients, vitamin D3 is not found in a large number of foods. Mushrooms contain a lot of vitamin D3. Fish that are high in vitamin D3 include salmon, mackerel, sardines and tuna. Eggs are a good source of vitamin D3, as are beef and liver.
In US vitamin D3 has been added to a number of foods that people consume more regularly.

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