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Vitamin D and its status in vegetarians and vegans

DOI: https://doi.org/10.29296/25877313-2021-11-04
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A.V. Galchenko Assistant, Department of Medical Elementology, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University) (Moscow, Russia) ORCID: 0000-0001-7286-5044 E-mail: gav.jina@gmail.com R. Ranjit Resident, Department of Oncology, Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (RUDN University) (Moscow, Russia) ORCID: 0000-0002-4255-4197 E-mail: rajesh.ranjit@mail.ru

Vitamin D is an essential hydrophobic micronutrient. There are at least seven different forms of vitamin D, however, only D2 and D3 are considered to be its biologically active forms in the human body. Besides its primary functions of calcium homeostasis and bone metabolism, vitamin D exerts a number of additional biological effects. For instance, it is a powerful immunomodulator. Lack of vitamin D is primarily associated with osteoporosis and rickets. Moreover, vitamin D deficiency can aggravate the risks of cardiovascular dis-eases, autoimmune diseases, and even tumour genesis. At the same time, vitamin D can be extremely toxic if taken in excess. As a consequence of vitamin D hypervitaminosis, severe impairment in calci-um metabolism may occur and can result in neuropsychiatric abnormalities, gastrointestinal, renal, or cardiovascular disorders. The human body mainly obtains vitamin D3 by endogenously biosynthesizing it from cholesterol in the skin in presence of ultraviolet radiation. The richest food source of vitamin D3 is oily sea fish. Much smaller amounts of calciferol are found in dairy products, eggs, or liver. Mushrooms are also capable of accumulating vitamin D under the influence of sunlight, but they store vitamin D in its less active form – vitamin D2. Despite the presence of different forms of vitamin D in various foods, it is extremely difficult to compensate for its need if relied only on food, even for people who regularly include fish in their diet. And while vegetarians and vegans consume significantly less vitamin D and generally have lower serum concentrations, the entire population of extratropical regions is highly susceptible to calciferol deficiency, regardless of their diet. Therefore, it seems reasonable to regularly screen the vitamin D supply, especially for people living in high latitudes, no matter which diet they follow.


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