Vitamin D

Supplement Forms/Alternate Names

  • Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3), ergocalciferol (vitamin D2)

Introduction

Vitamin D is found in fish, milk, and sunlight. The body needs vitamin D to promote bone growth. It is used to prevent and treat scurvy. Vitamin D has been used to strengthen bones and ease symptoms of depression. It has also been used to promote organ and blood health.
Vitamin D can be taken as a pill, powder, or tincture. It can also be injected into the bloodstream or muscle by a healthcare provider.

Dosages

600 IU (International Units) daily

What Research Shows

Likely Effective

  • Atopic dermatitis —likely to ease severity D1
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) —likely to lower the rate of flare ups in people with low 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels K1
  • Chronic pain—likely to ease pain L1
  • Depression —likely to improve symptoms O1-O3
  • Diabetes —likely to improve blood glucose levels and insulin sensitivity P1-P6
  • Fractures—likely to lower the risk in older adults W1
  • Insulin sensitivity—likely to help control glucose and insulin levels AA1
  • Osteoporosis —likely to ease symptoms and prevent fractures EE1
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome —likely to help regulate menstrual cycle and improve insulin sensitivity HH1, HH2
  • Post-thyroidectomy hypocalcemia—likely to prevent when taken with vitamin calcium II1
  • Pregnancy support —likely to prevent preeclampsia, low birth weight, and premature birth; may lower risk of upper respiratory infection in infants KK1-KK6

May Be Effective

May Not Be Effective

  • Cognitive function —may not prevent cognitive decline or dementia M1
  • Female subfertility—may not provide benefit S1
  • Infections in children—may not prevent pneumonia or diarrhea in children under five years of age Z1

Unlikely to Be Effective

Not Enough Data to Assess

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.
Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Safety Notes

It is likely safe to take vitamin D in small doses for a short time. Taking high doses for a long period may not be safe. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take more than 600 IU of vitamin D per day.
Interactions
Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse, such as:
  • People with hypercalcemia should not take vitamin D. It will worsen symptoms.

References

A All-Cause Mortality
A1 Zhang Y, Fang F, et al. Association between vitamin D supplementation and mortality: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2019 Aug 12;366:l4673.
B Alzheimer Disease
B1 Muñoz Fernández SS, Ivanauskas T, et al. Nutritional Strategies in the Management of Alzheimer Disease: Systematic Review With Network Meta-Analysis. J Am Med Dir Assoc. 2017 Oct 1;18(10):897.e13-897.e30.
C Asthma
C1 Luo J, Liu D, et al. Can Vitamin D Supplementation in Addition to Asthma Controllers Improve Clinical Outcomes in Patients With Asthma?: A Meta-Analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2015 Dec;94(50):e2185.
C2 Fares MM, Alkhaled LH, et al. Vitamin D supplementation in children with asthma: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Res Notes. 2015;8:23.
C3 Jolliffe DA, Greenberg L, et al. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent asthma exacerbations: a systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. Lancet Respir Med. 2017 Nov;5(11):881-890.
D Atopic Dermatitis
D1 Kim MJ, Kim SN, et al. Vitamin D Status and Efficacy of Vitamin Supplementation in Atopic Dermatitis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2016;8(12):E789.
E Cancer Prevention
E1 Bjelakovic G, Gluud LL, et al. Vitamin D supplementation for prevention of cancer in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(6):CD007469.
F Cardiovascular Disease
F1 Jenkins DJA, Spence JD, et al. Supplemental Vitamins and Minerals for CVD Prevention and Treatment. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018;71(22):2570-2584
G Chronic Heart Failure
G1 Jiang WL, Gu HB, et al. Vitamin D Supplementation in the Treatment of Chronic Heart Failure: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Clin Cardiol. 2016 Jan;39(1):56-61.
H Chronic Kidney Disease
H1 Lu RJ, Zhu SM, et al. Effects of vitamin D or its analogues on the mortality of patients with chronic kidney disease: an updated systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2017;71(6):683-693.
I Chronic Liver Disease
I1 Bjelakovic G, Nikolova D, et al. Vitmain D supplementation for chronic liver disease in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;11:CD011564.
J Chronic Nonspecific Musculoskeletal Pain
J1 Gaikwad M, Vanlint S, et al. Does vitamin D supplementation alleviate chronic nonspecific musculoskeletal pain? A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clin Rheumatol. 2017 May;36(5):1201-1208.
K Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
K1 Jolliffe DA, Greenberg L, et al. Vitamin D to prevent exacerbations of COPD: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data from randomised controlled trials. Thorax. 2019 Apr;74(4):337-345.
L Chronic Pain
L1 Wu Z, Malihi Z, et al. Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Pain Physician. 2016 Sep-Oct;19(7):415-427.
M Cognitive Function
M1 Rutjes AW, Denton DA, et al. Vitamin and mineral supplementation for maintaining cognitive function in cognitively healthy people in mid and late life. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Dec 17;12:CD011906.
N Cystic Fibrosis
N1 Ferguson JH, Chang AB. Vitamin D supplementation for cystic fibrosis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(5):CD007298.
O Depression
O1 Shaffer JA, Edmonson D, et al. Vitamin D supplementation for depressive symptoms: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Psychosom Med. 2014;76(3):190-196.
O2 Spedding S. Vitamin D and depression: s systematic review and meta-analysis comparing studies with and without biological flaws. Nutrients. 2014;6(4):1501-1518.
O3 Sarris J, Murphy J, et al. Adjunctive Nutraceuticals for Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses. Am J Psychiatry. 2016 Jun 1;173(6):575-587.
P Diabetes
P1 Lee KJ, Lee YJ. Effects of vitamin D on blood pressure in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2016 Apr;54(4):233-242.
P2 Lee CJ, Iyer G, et al. The effect of vitamin D supplementation on glucose metabolism in type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis of intervention studies. J Diabetes Complications. 2017 Jul;31(7):1115-1126.
P3 Wu C, Qiu S, et al. Vitamin D supplementation and glycemic control in type 2 diabetes patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Metabolism. 2017;73:67-76.
P4 Krul-Poel YH, Ter Wee MM, et al. MANAGEMENT OF ENDOCRINE DISEASE: The effect of vitamin D supplementation on glycaemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Endocrinol. 2017 Jan;176(1):R1-R14.
P5 Li X, Liu Y, et al. The Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on Glycemic Control in Type 2 Diabetes Patients: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2018 Mar 19;10(3). pii: E375.
P6 Hu Z, Chen J, et al. Efficacy of vitamin D supplementation on glycemic control in type 2 diabetes patients: A meta-analysis of interventional studies. Medicine (Baltimore). 2019;98(14):e14970.
Q Diabetic Nephropathy
Q1 Wang Y, Yang S, et al. Effects of Vitamin D Supplementation on Renal Function, Inflammation and Glycemic Control in Patients with Diabetic Nephropathy: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Kidney Blood Press Res. 2019;44(1):72-87.
R Fall Prevention in Older Adults
R1 Tricco AC, Thomas SM, et al. Comparisons of Interventions for Preventing Falls in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA. 2017 Nov 7;318(17):1687-1699.
R2 Cameron ID, Dyer SM, et al. Interventions for preventing falls in older people in care facilities and hospitals. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018 Sep 7;9:CD005465.
S Female Subfertility
S1 Showell MG, Mackenzie-Proctor R, et al. Antioxidants for female subfertility. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Jul 28;7:CD007807.
T Fractures
T1 Sprague S, Petrisor B, et al. What Is the Role of Vitamin D Supplementation in Acute Fracture Patients? A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Prevalence of Hypovitaminosis D and Supplementation Efficacy. J Orthop Trauma. 2016 Feb;30(2):53-63.
T2 Zhao JG, Zeng XT, et al. Association Between Calcium or Vitamin D Supplementation and Fracture Incidence in Community-Dwelling Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA. 2017 Dec 26;318(24):2466-2482.
U Hepatitis C Infection
U1 Kim HB, Myung SK, et al. Efficacy of vitamin D supplementation in combination with conventional antiviral therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis C infection: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2018 Apr;31(2):168-177.
V High Blood Pressure
V1 Wu L, Sun D. Effects of calcium plus vitamin D supplementation on blood pressure: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Hum Hypertens. 2017;31(9):547-554.
V2 Qi D, Nie X, et al. The effect of vitamin D supplementation on hypertension in non-CKD populations: A systemic review and meta-analysis. Int J Cardiol. 2017 Jan 15;227:177-186.
W Hip Fracture Care
W1 Avenell A, Smith TO, et al. Nutritional supplementation for hip fracture aftercare in older people. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Nov 30;11:CD001880.
X HIV Infection in Adults
X1 Visser ME, Durao S, et al. Micronutrient supplementation in adults with HIV infection. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 May 18;5:CD003650.
Y Immune-Mediated Rheumatic Diseases
Y1 Franco AS, Freitas TQ, et al. Vitamin D supplementation and disease activity in patients with immune-mediated rheumatic diseases: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2017 Jun;96(23):e7024.
Z Infections in Children
Z1 Yakoob MY, Salam RA, et al. Vitamin D supplementation for preventing infections in children under five years of age. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Nov 9;11:CD008824.
AA Insulin Sensitivity
AA1 Asbaghi O, Khosroshahi MZ, et al. Effect of Calcium‑Vitamin D Co‑Supplementation on Insulin, Insulin Sensitivity, and Glycemia: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials. Horm Metab Res. 2019 May;51(5):288-295.
BB Knee Osteoarthritis
BB1 Gao XR, Chen YS, et al. The effect of vitamin D supplementation on knee osteoarthritis: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Int J Surg. 2017;46:14-20.
BB2 Diao N, Yang B, et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on knee osteoarthritis: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Clin Biochem. 2017;50(18):1312-1316.
CC Multiple Sclerosis
CC1 Zheng C, He L, et al. The efficacy of vitamin D in multiple sclerosis: A meta-analysis. Mult Scler Relat Disord. 2018;23:56-61.
CC2 Jagannath VA, Filippini G, et al. Vitamin D for the management of multiple sclerosis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;9:CD008422.
DD Musculoskeletal Health
DD1 Bolland MJ, Grey A, et al. Effects of vitamin D supplementation on musculoskeletal health: a systematic review, meta-analysis, and trial sequential analysis. Lancet Diabetes Endocrinol. 2018 Nov;6(11):847-858.
EE Osteoporosis
EE1 Cesareo R, Iozzino M, et al. Effectiveness and safety of calcium and vitamin D treatment for postmenopausal osteoporosis. Minerva Endocrinol. 2015;40(3):231-237.
FF Parkinson Disease
FF1 Zhou Z, Zhou R, et al. The Association Between Vitamin D Status, Vitamin D Supplementation, Sunlight Exposure, and Parkinson's Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Med Sci Monit. 2019 Jan 23;25:666-674.
GG Pneumonia
GG1 Das RR, Singh M, et al. Vitamin D as an adjunct to antibiotics for the treatment of acute childhood pneumonia. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;7:CD011597.
HH Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
HH1 Fang F, Ni K, et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on polycystic ovary syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2017;26:53-60.
HH2 Lagowska K, Bajerska J, et al. The Role of Vitamin D Oral Supplementation in Insulin Resistance in Women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients. 2018 Nov 2;10(11). pii: E1637.
II Post-thyroidectomy Hypocalcemia
II1 Xing T, Hu Y, et al. Role of oral calcium supplementation alone or with vitamin D in preventing post-thyroidectomy hypocalcaemia: A meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore). 2019 Feb;98(8):e14455.
JJ Prediabetes
JJ1 Poolsup N, Suksomboon N, et al. Effect of vitamin D supplementation on insulin resistance and glycaemic control in prediabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Diabet Med. 2016 Mar;33(3):290-299.
KK Pregnancy Support
KK1 Palacios C, De-Regil LM, et al. Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy: Updated meta-analysis on maternal outcomes. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2016 Nov;164:148-155.
KK2 De-Regil LM, Palacios C, et al. Vitamin D supplementation for women during pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;(1):CD008873.
KK3 Christensen N, Søndergaard J, et al. Infant Respiratory Tract Infections or Wheeze and Maternal Vitamin D in Pregnancy: A Systematic Review. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2017 Apr;36(4):384-391.
KK4 Khaing W, Vallibhakara SA, et al. Calcium and Vitamin D Supplementation for Prevention of Preeclampsia: A Systematic Review and Network Meta-Analysis. Nutrients. 2017 Oct 18;9(10). pii: E1141.
KK5 Roth DE, Leung M, et al. Vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy: state of the evidence from a systematic review of randomised trials. BMJ. 2017 Nov 29;359:j5237.
KK6 Maugeri A, Barchitta M, et al. Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation During Pregnancy on Birth Size: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Nutrients. 2019;11(2):E442.
LL Prostate Cancer
LL1 Liu Y, Wang X, et al. Vitamin intake and pancreatic cancer risk reduction: A meta-analysis of observational studies. Medicine (Baltimore). 2018 Mar;97(13):e0114.
LL2 Shahvazi S, Soltani S, et al. The Effect of Vitamin D Supplementation on Prostate Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials. Horm Metab Res. 2019;51(1):11-21
MM Upper Respiratory Tract Infection
MM1 Xiao L, Xing C, et al. Vitamin D supplementation for the prevention of childhood acute respiratory infections: a systematic review of randomised controlled trials. Br J Nutr. 2015 Oct 14;114(7):1026-34.
MM2 Aglipay K, Birken CS, et al. Effect of High-Dose vs Standard-Dose Wintertime Vitamin D Supplementation on Viral Upper Respiratory Tract Infections in Young Healthy Children. JAMA. 2017;318(3):245-254.
MM3 Martineau AR, Jolliffe DA, et al. Vitamin D supplementation to prevent acute respiratory tract infections: systematic review and meta-analysis of individual participant data. BMJ. 2017 Feb 15;356:i6583.
NN Vitamin D Deficiency After Bariatric Surgery
NN1 Li Z, Zhou X, et al. Vitamin D supplementation for the prevention of vitamin D deficiency after bariatric surgery: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2018 Aug;72(8):1061-1070.

Revision Information

  • Reviewer: EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC
  • Review Date: 07/2019
  • Update Date: 03/27/2020