Vitamin D getting its day in the sun

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With shorter days and long wintry nights ahead for the Northern Hemisphere, experts are again issuing seasonal warnings to be mindful of vitamin D deficiency, which has been causing a spike in the number of rickets cases in the UK and sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) to experience a dip in mental wellbeing.

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and is essential for healthy, strong bones, while rickets is a disorder that leads to the softening and weakening of bones.

In recent weeks, Kellogg’s in the UK announced plans to fortify its kids’ cereals with the vitamin by the end of 2012. While existing brands like Cornflakes, Special K, Mini Max and select Coco Pops cereals already have vitamin D, this will be expanded to its Rice Krispies, Ricicles, Honey Loops and other Coco Pops flavors.Dole also launched a Portobello Mushroom Powder this summer that provides 150 percent of daily vitamin D intake with each teaspoon.

Scientists had long been playing with the mushroom’s ability to produce vitamin D with exposure to light much like humans, and leveraged this power to create a product that can be added to soups, stews, sauces, pasta, rice and meats.

Last month, British scientists created a "super broccoli" that packs a nutritional punch with extra vitamin D, particularly important for a country that receives little sunshine throughout the year and where rickets cases have been on the rise. And in Brazil, Nestlé last month launched dairy-based beverages made with fruit that contain 40 percent of a child’s daily recommended intake of vitamin D. Ninho Baixa Lactose is a fortified drink also suitable for the 10 percent of Brazilian children who are lactose intolerant.

Meanwhile, a slew of recent studies have shown that in addition to building strong bones, vitamin D shows early promise in fighting lupus.

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