- Plays a crucial role in the growth and maintenance of strong, healthy bones
- Maintains normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus
|Age Group||Recommended Dietary Allowance or Adequate Intake (IU/Day)|
|Pregnant or nursing women||600|
Vitamin D Deficiency
- Rickets—in children, a disease in which the bones become soft and weak
- Osteomalacia—in adults, a disease in which the bones become soft and weak
- Muscle weakness
Vitamin D Toxicity
|Age Group||Upper Level Intake (IU/Day)|
|9 years and older||4,000|
|Pregnant or nursing women||4,000|
- Poor appetite
- Weight loss
- High blood pressure
Raised levels of calcium in the blood, which can cause:
- Heart rhythm abnormalities
- Deposits of calcium in soft tissues, like the kidney, heart, and lungs
Major Food Sources
- Orange juice
- Soy beverages
- Fatty fish (eg, salmon, tuna, and mackerel)
- Beef liver
- Egg yolks
Populations at Risk for Vitamin D Deficiency
- Breastfeed babies—Human milk does not have enough vitamin D. Breastfed babies should receive a 400 IU vitamin supplement each day to make up for this.
- Older adults—Studies suggest that adults over age 65 have less ability to synthesize vitamin D through sunlight exposure than adults aged 20-30. They are also likely to spend less time out in the sun. Elderly women with vitamin D deficiency may benefit from taking D3 supplements. Talk to your doctor, though, before taking these.
- Locales with limited sun exposure—People who live above latitudes of approximately 40°N and below latitudes of approximately 40°S are at risk for deficiency during most of the winter months.
- People with dark skin—Those with darker skin are less able to make vitamin D from the sun.
- People who are obese—Body fat can bind to some vitamin D preventing it from getting into the blood where it can be used by the body.
- People with a reduced ability to absorb dietary fat—Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, fat is required for its absorption from foods. Some conditions that can cause fat malabsorption include Crohn's disease, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, pancreatic enzyme deficiency, and liver disease.
Tips For Increasing Your Vitamin D Intake
- If you take a vitamin supplement, make sure it contains vitamin D.
- Drink vitamin D-fortified milk.
- Get sun exposure, but be careful to watch for sunburn. Sunlight is a major cause of skin cancer.
American Dietetic Association http://www.eatright.org/
Office of Dietary Supplements http://ods.od.nih.gov/
Dietitians of Canada http://www.dietitians.ca/
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index%5Fe.html/
Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Willett WC, Wong JB, et al. Fracture prevention with vitamin D supplementation. JAMA. 2005;293(18):2257-64.
Cancer prevention. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated February 2010. Accessed March 5, 2010.
Dietary reference intakes for calcium and vitamin D. Institute of Medicine website. Available at: http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2010/Dietary-Reference-Intakes-for-Calcium-and-Vitamin-D/Report-Brief.aspx?page=1. Published November 30, 2010. Accessed December 13, 2010.
Dietary supplement fact sheet: vitamin D. Office of Dietary Supplements. National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind.asp. Accessed August 23, 2011.
Duplessis CA, Harris EB, Watenpaugh DE, et al. Vitamin D supplementation in underway submariners. Aviat Space Environ Med. 2005;76:569-75.
Facts about dietary supplements. National Institutes of Health website. Available at: http://www.nih.gov/.
Food and nutrition information center, United States Department of Agriculture website. Available at: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usdahome. Accessed February 18, 2008.
Garrison R, Somer E. The Nutrition Desk Reference. New Canaan, CT: Keats Publishing; 1995.
Vitamin D. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated February 2010. Accessed March 5, 2010.
Wagner CL, Greer FR, American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Breastfeeding, American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. Prevention of rickets and vitamin D deficiency in infants, children, and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2008;122:1142-1152.
4/5/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M, Kurihara M, Wada Y, Ida H. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar 10. [Epub ahead of print].
2/11/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Winzenberg T, Powell S, Shaw KA, Jones G. Effects of vitamin D supplementation on bone density in healthy children: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2011;342.
7/28/2011 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Bjelakovic G, Gluud LL, Nikolova D, et al. Vitamin D supplementation for prevention of mortality in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 20116;(7):CD007470.
3/6/2013 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance: Schreuder F, Bernsen RM, van der Wouden JC. Vitamin D supplementation for nonspecific musculoskeletal pain in non-Western immigrants: a randomized controlled trial. Ann Fam Med. 2012 Nov-Dec;10(6):547-55.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 08/2011 -
- Update Date: 03/06/2013 -