Healthy Eating

Vitamin D

Also indexed as:1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, D Vitamin, Calciferol (Vitamin D), Calcipotriol (Vitamin D)
Vitamin D: Main Image

The fat-soluble vitamin D’s most important role is maintaining blood levels of calcium, which it accomplishes by increasing absorption of calcium from food and reducing urinary calcium loss. Both effects keep calcium in the body and therefore spare the calcium that is stored in bones. When necessary, vitamin D transfers calcium from the bone into the bloodstream, which does not benefit bones. Although the overall effect of vitamin D on the bones is complicated, some vitamin D is necessary for healthy bones and teeth.

When "D” is used without a subscript it refers to either D2 or D3, the two primary forms used as supplements.    

  • Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
  • Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
  • For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:

Used for AmountWhy
Crohn’s Disease
1,000 to 1,200 IU daily under medical supervision 3 stars[3 stars]
Vitamin D malabsorption is common in Crohn’s and can lead to a deficiency of the vitamin. Supplementation can help prevent bone loss in cases of deficiency.
Cystic Fibrosis
1,000 to 2,000 IU daily3 stars[3 stars]
The fat malabsorption associated with cystic fibrosis often leads to a deficiency of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin D. Supplementation can help counteract the deficiency.
Osteoporosis
400 to 800 IU daily depending on age, sun exposure, and dietary sources 3 stars[3 stars]
Vitamin D increases calcium absorption and helps make bones stronger. Vitamin D supplementation has reduced bone loss in women who don’t get enough of the vitamin from food and slowed bone loss in people with osteoporosis. It also works with calcium to prevent some musculoskeletal causes of falls and subsequent fractures.
Rickets
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner3 stars[3 stars]
Vitamin D supplements may be helpful in preventing and treating rickets.
Vitamin D Deficiency
Vitamin D deficiency should be diagnosed by a doctor3 stars[3 stars]
One in seven adults has been reported to be deficient in vitamin D. In adults, vitamin D deficiency may result in a softening of the bones known as osteomalacia.
Asthma
1,200 IU per day for 15 to 17 weeks 2 stars[2 stars]
A study of Japanese children found that daily supplementation with vitamin D during the winter months significantly reduced the amount of times the children experienced asthma attacks.
Burns
200 to 600 IU day in cases of extensive burns2 stars[2 stars]
People with a history of an extensive burn might benefit from vitamin D supplementation, since the skin may not be as effective at manufacturing vitamin D from sunlight.
Celiac Disease
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner2 stars[2 stars]
Malabsorption-induced vitamin D deficiency can lead to bone weakening in people with celiac disease. Supplementing with vitamin D may help increase bone density.
Common Cold and Sore Throat
300 IU per day for three months in winter2 stars[2 stars]
Research suggests that supplementing with vitamin D may prevent upper respiratory tract infections in people who are deficient in the vitamin, but not in those who have normal vitamin D status.
Congestive Heart Failure
Refer to label instructions 2 stars[2 stars]
In preliminary research, the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency was significantly higher in patients with congestive heart failure than in patients without it.
Depression
400 to 800 IU daily2 stars[2 stars]
Some studies have shown that supplementing with vitamin D leads to improved mood.
Epilepsy
Refer to label instructions 2 stars[2 stars]
In a preliminary study, correcting vitamin D deficiency resulted in a decrease in the number of seizures in patients with epilepsy who had failed to respond adequately to medications.
Fibromyalgia
Refer to label instructions 2 stars[2 stars]
In a double-blind study of women with fibromyalgia who had low or moderately low blood levels of vitamin D, supplementing with vitamin D improved pain, compared with a placebo.
Hypertension
800 to 2,000 IU daily2 stars[2 stars]
In one trial, women with low blood levels of vitamin D who were given calcium supplement plus vitamin D experienced significantly reduced systolic blood pressure.
Influenza
800 IU per day for two years; then 2,000 IU per day after that 2 stars[2 stars]
In one study, long-term vitamin D supplementation for three years significantly reduced flu and cold symptoms.
Influenza and Children
1,200 IU per day for 15 to 17 weeks 2 stars[2 stars]
A study of Japanese children found that daily supplementation with vitamin D during the winter months significantly reduced the amount of times the children developed the flu.
Low Back Pain
Refer to label instructions 2 stars[2 stars]
In people with muscle pain associated with vitamin D deficiency, supplementing with the vitamin may improve pain.
Lupus
Refer to label instructions 2 stars[2 stars]
In a double-blind trial, people who took vitamin D daily experienced a decrease in disease activity and flare-ups.
Neuropathy
2,000 IU of vitamin D per day for three months 2 stars[2 stars]
In a preliminary trial, supplementing with vitamin D per day significantly improved pain by almost 50% in patients with diabetic neuropathy.
Seasonal Affective Disorder
Refer to label instructions 2 stars[2 stars]
Supplementing with vitamin D may improve mood and well-being, especially among people with low levels of the vitamin.
Tension Headache

(Calcium)
1,000 to 1,500 mg per day (plus the same amount of calcium) 2 stars[2 stars]
In preliminary research, people with chronic tension-type headaches who were also suffering from severe vitamin D deficiency experienced an improvement in their symptoms after supplementing with vitamin D and calcium.
Type 1 Diabetes
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner2 stars[2 stars]
Vitamin D is needed to maintain adequate insulin levels, and supplementing with it may reduce the risk of developing type 1 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes
1,332 IU daily2 stars[2 stars]
Vitamin D is needed to maintain adequate insulin levels, and supplementing with it may improve blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 Diabetes and Diabetic Neuropathy
2,000 IU of vitamin D per day for three months2 stars[2 stars]
In a preliminary trial, supplementing with vitamin D per day significantly improved pain by almost 50% in patients with diabetic neuropathy.
Alcohol Withdrawal
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
If deficient, supplementing with this vitamin may help prevent bone loss and muscle weakness.
Amenorrhea and Osteoporosis

(Calcium)
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Despite the lack of evidence that calcium and vitamin D supplements alone are helpful to amenorrheic women, they are still generally recommended to prevent the added burden of calcium and vitamin D deficiency from further contributing to bone loss.
Breast Cancer
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Vitamin D from supplements and from exposure to the sun both appear to protect against breast cancer.
Cardiac Arrhythmia
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
One case report described relief from a type of arrhythmia after supplementing with vitamin D.
Colon Cancer
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
People who take vitamin D supplements have been shown to be at low risk for colon cancer.
Dysmenorrhea
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
In a double-blind trial, women with dysmenorrhea received a placebo or a single administration of a large amount of vitamin D, which appeared to significantly diminish menstrual pain. This should only be done under doctor supervision.
Eczema
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
In a preliminary trial, eczema significantly improved in people who had very low blood levels of vitamin D after supplementing with vitamin D.
Migraine Headache
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Taking large amounts of the combination of calcium and vitamin D has been reported to produce a marked reduction in the incidence of migraines in several women.
Multiple Sclerosis
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Studies suggest that vitamin D may help reduce the number of MS attacks and may protect against the development of the disease.
Parkinson’s Disease
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Vitamin D deficiency is common in Parkinson’s disease and may increase the risk of hip fracture due to osteoporosis. This risk may be reduced by taking vitamin D.
Prostate Cancer
2,000 IU daily1 star[1 star]
Where sun exposure is low, the rate of prostate cancer has been reported to be high.
Urinary Incontinence
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
Higher blood levels of vitamin D are associated with lower risk of urinary incontinence in women.
Vitiligo
Refer to label instructions 1 star[1 star]
When used in combination with sun exposure, a form of vitamin D called calcipotriol may be effective in stimulating repigmentation in children with vitiligo.

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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.