Since Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin it cannot be added to a wide variety of foods. Foods that it is commonly added to are margarine, vegetable oils and dairy products. During the late 1800s, after the discovery of curing conditions of scurvy and beriberi had occurred, researchers were aiming to see if the disease, later known as rickets, could also be cured by food. Their results showed that sunlight exposure and cod liver oil were the cure. It was not until the 1930s that vitamin D was actually linked to curing rickets. This discovery led to the fortification of common foods such as milk, margarine, and breakfast cereals. This took the astonishing statistics of approximately 80-90% of children showing varying degrees of bone deformations due to vitamin D deficiency to being a very rare condition.
Risk factors for vitamin D deficiencies include:
- Infants who are exclusively or partially breast fed
- Dark skinned people
- People who live in colder climates and have little sun exposure
- Those who cover all parts of their skin while outdoors
- Liberal use of SPF sunscreens
- Fat malabsorption syndromes
- Inflammatory bowel diseases
The current RDA for infants aged 0–6 months is 25mcg's (1000 International Units (IU)/day and for adults over 19 years of age it is 100mcg's (4000IU)/day.
Diseases associated with a vitamin D deficiency include rickets, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer (breast, prostate, colon and ovaries). It has also been associated with increased risks for fractures, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, autoimmune and infectious diseases, asthma and other wheezing disorders, myocardial infarction, hypertension, congestive heart failure, and peripheral vascular disease.
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