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There are several different types of Vitamin D, including ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). Vitamin D2 is created by plants and Vitamin D3 is created by humans when skin is exposed to sunlight. The main role of vitamin D in the body is to maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus. Research suggests that vitamin D may reduce the risk of osteoporosis, high blood pressure and many forms of cancer.

Food sources
Good food sources of Vitamin D include tuna, sardines and mackerel. The yolks of egg are another excellent source of Vitamin D.

Daily requirement
The European Commission daily recommendation for Vitamin D is 5mcg for both men and women. In the United States, the recommendations are somewhat higher at 10mcg of Vitamin D each daily. There are no UK set daily recommended allowance figures.

Deficiency
A deficiency in Vitamin D is one of the most common forms of vitamin deficiency. In the UK around 2 in 10 adults are believed to be deficient, and in those of South Asian origin the figure is nearer to 9 in 10. Most cases involve children, pregnant women, people who stay indoors, or those who cover their skin. Medication and kidney disease interfere with the conversion of Vitamin D and can also lead to a deficiency.

Symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency can range from tiredness and back pains to cramps, seizures and breathing difficulties in young children. Prolonged vitamin D deficiency can increase the risk of osteoporosis and other serious diseases.

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