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nightsurfer on 2009-02-24Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for maintaining normal calcium metabolism (1). Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) can be synthesized by humans in the skin upon exposure to ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation from sunlight, or it can be obtained from the diet. Plants synthesize ergosterol, which is converted to vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) by ultraviolet light. Vitamin D2 is less active in birds than vitamin D3 and may also be less active in humans (2). When exposure to UVB radiation is insufficient for the synthesis of adequate amounts of vitamin D3 in the skin, adequate intake of vitamin D from the diet is essential for health.