vitamindVitamin D, also known as the sunshine vitamin, can be produced in the body with mild sun exposure or consumed in food or supplements. Adequate vitamin D intake is important for the regulation of calcium and phosphorus absorption, maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, and is suggested to supply a protective effect against multiple diseases and conditions such as cancer, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

In spite of the name, vitamin D is not actually considered a vitamin. Because the body can produce its own vitamin D, it is not necessarily an essential part of the diet and is considered a pro-hormone.

It is estimated that sensible sun exposure on bare skin for 5-10 minutes 2-3 times per week allows the body the ability to produce sufficient vitamin D. Despite this, recent studies have suggested that up to 50% of adults and children worldwide are vitamin D deficient.

This MNT Knowledge Center feature is part of a collection of articles on the health benefits of popular vitamins and minerals. It provides an in-depth look at recommended intake of vitamin D, its possible health benefits, foods high in vitamin D and any potential health risks of consuming vitamin D.

I spend about 20 hours plus a week outdoors in the sunshine and I am vitamin D deficient. Thought that I was getting enough vitamin D, but I wasn’t. My Dr. put me on a vitamin D regimen and it is incredible the difference I feel. I don’t have any more leg cramps.