Ultraviolet Radiation and Vitamin D

Authored by: Lesley E. Rhodes , Ann R. Webb

CRC Handbook of Organic Photochemistry and Photobiology

Print publication date:  March  2012
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9781439899335
eBook ISBN: 9781466561250
Adobe ISBN:

10.1201/b12252-60

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Abstract

Vitamin D is a hormone, with a chemical structure closely related to that of cortisol. It is often called the “sunshine vitamin” as it is synthesized in the skin following exposure to the ultraviolet B (UVB) in solar radiation. There are two forms of vitamin D, with only vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) being photochemically produced in the skin, while vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is formed from ergosterol in plants, through a similar process. Both require metabolism to produce the active hormone. Humans can obtain both vitamin D3 and D2 through diet, although several recent surveys confirm that the average diet contains low amounts. There is currently considerable controversy regarding the amounts of vitamin D required for human health and how these may best be obtained. While it is well known that vitamin D is essential for calcium metabolism and that deficiency causes the severe bone disorders of rickets and osteomalacia, there are also associations with systemic and malignant disorders where cause and effect are not firmly established.

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