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Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), a form of vitamin D, helps the body absorb calcium and with that promotes strong bones, good immune health, and mental well-being. You can get vitamin D3 from fortified foods, eggs, and fatty fish — or by spending time in the sun. Supplements can help you meet your daily needs, but stick to the RDI to avoid side effects.

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Vitamin D deficiency

Most people with vitamin D deficiency are asymptomatic. Only with a severe and prolonged deficiency do symptoms arise.

With a severe deficiency, bone softening (a condition called osteomalacia in adults and rickets in children) may develop.

With osteomalacia and rickets, a person may experience throbbing bone discomfort and muscle weakness and pain. Osteomalacia also increases a person's chances of developing bone fractures, falling, and experiencing walking problems.

Besides bone and muscle symptoms, fatigue and depression are also associated with vitamin D deficiency.

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While the amount of vitamin D that a person needs varies based on factors like skin color and sun exposure, general recommendations state that individuals ages 1 to 70 should take a supplement containing 600 IU of vitamin D daily. After age 70, a person should take 800 IU of vitamin D daily.

These vitamin D preventive recommendations are for the general population—not for people with a diagnosed vitamin D deficiency. People who are deficient in vitamin D require therapeutic doses of vitamin D.

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