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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 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
  • 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

REFA All-Cause Mortality

REFA1 Zhang Y, Fang F, et al. Association between vitamin D supplementation and mortality: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ. 2019 Aug 12;366:l4673.

REFB Alzheimer Disease

REFB1 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.

REFC Asthma

REFC1 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.

REFC2 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.

REFC3 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.

REFD Atopic Dermatitis

REFD1 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.

REFE Cancer Prevention

REFE1 Bjelakovic G, Gluud LL, et al. Vitamin D supplementation for prevention of cancer in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(6):CD007469.

REFF Cardiovascular Disease

REFF1 Jenkins DJA, Spence JD, et al. Supplemental Vitamins and Minerals for CVD Prevention and Treatment. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2018;71(22):2570-2584

REFG Chronic Heart Failure

REFG1 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.

REFH Chronic Kidney Disease

REFH1 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.

REFI Chronic Liver Disease

REFI1 Bjelakovic G, Nikolova D, et al. Vitmain D supplementation for chronic liver disease in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;11:CD011564.

REFJ Chronic Nonspecific Musculoskeletal Pain

REFJ1 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.

REFK Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

REFK1 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.

REFL Chronic Pain

REFL1 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.

REFM Cognitive Function

REFM1 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.

REFN Cystic Fibrosis

REFN1 Ferguson JH, Chang AB. Vitamin D supplementation for cystic fibrosis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(5):CD007298.

REFO Depression

REFO1 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.

REFO2 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.

REFO3 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.

REFO4 Okereke O, Reynolds C, et al. Effect of long-term vitamin D3 supplementation vs placebo on risk of depression or clinically relevant depressive symptoms and on change in mood scores: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA. 2020 Aug 4;324(5):471-480.

REFP Diabetes

REFP1 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.

REFP2 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.

REFP3 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.

REFP4 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.

REFP5 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.

REFP6 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.

REFQ Diabetic Nephropathy

REFQ1 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.

REFR Fall Prevention in Older Adults

REFR1 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.

REFR2 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.

REFS Female Subfertility

REFS1 Showell MG, Mackenzie-Proctor R, et al. Antioxidants for female subfertility. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 Jul 28;7:CD007807.

REFT Fractures

REFT1 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.

REFT2 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.

REFU Hepatitis C Infection

REFU1 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.

REFV High Blood Pressure

REFV1 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.

REFV2 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.

REFW Hip Fracture Care

REFW1 Avenell A, Smith TO, et al. Nutritional supplementation for hip fracture aftercare in older people. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Nov 30;11:CD001880.

REFX HIV Infection in Adults

REFX1 Visser ME, Durao S, et al. Micronutrient supplementation in adults with HIV infection. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017 May 18;5:CD003650.

REFY Immune-Mediated Rheumatic Diseases

REFY1 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.

REFZ Infections in Children

REFZ1 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.

REFAA Insulin Sensitivity

REFAA1 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.

REFBB Knee Osteoarthritis

REFBB1 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.

REFBB2 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.

REFCC Multiple Sclerosis

REFCC1 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.

REFCC2 Jagannath VA, Filippini G, et al. Vitamin D for the management of multiple sclerosis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018;9:CD008422.

REFDD Musculoskeletal Health

REFDD1 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.

REFEE Osteoporosis

REFEE1 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.

REFFF Parkinson Disease

REFFF1 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.

REFGG Pneumonia

REFGG1 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.

REFHH Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

REFHH1 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.

REFHH2 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.

REFII Post-thyroidectomy Hypocalcemia

REFII1 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.

REFJJ Prediabetes

REFJJ1 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.

REFKK Pregnancy Support

REFKK1 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.

REFKK2 De-Regil LM, Palacios C, et al. Vitamin D supplementation for women during pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;(1):CD008873.

REFKK3 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.

REFKK4 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.

REFKK5 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.

REFKK6 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.

REFLL Prostate Cancer

REFLL1 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.

REFLL2 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

REFMM Upper Respiratory Tract Infection

REFMM1 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.

REFMM2 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.

REFMM3 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.

REFNN Vitamin D Deficiency After Bariatric Surgery

REFNN1 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: 02/04/2021