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Benefits, Dosage, and Side Effects of Vitamin D3

Vitamin D3 Benefits, Dosage, and Side Effects

Sep 30, 2021

By some estimates, one billion people worldwide have vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency.[1] Deficiency is an issue as serum vitamin D levels impact our biochemistry and numerous body systems (primarily through calcitriol, the metabolic product of vitamin D). The recommended form of vitamin D is often vitamin D3 as it appears to support serum vitamin D levels for a longer period of time compared to vitamin D2 [21]. 

Vitamin D3 Benefits

The role of vitamin D in good health continues to expand as the knowledge of this vitamin’s effects on different body systems grows. Research now suggests that optimal serum levels of vitamin D support normal cell differentiation,[3,7] cardiovascular health,[2,3] normal immune function,[8] good balance,[2] healthy mood,[9] normal fetal development,[10] neuronal growth and neurodevelopment,[2,3,10,11] healthy glucose metabolism,[2,3] musculoskeletal comfort,[2,3] periodontal health,[12] and normal intestinal immune responses.[8]

Additional areas of research that have gained momentum over the past several years concern the relationship of vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency to changes in cellular proliferation, changes in fetal brain development, and mental health.[7,10,13-15] Evidence is also mounting that vitamin D supplementation may provide key immune support.*[16-19]

Vitamin D3 and Bone Health

The body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium, and the importance of vitamin D in skeletal health and bone density is well established. Although bone density is most often associated with calcium intakes, insufficient vitamin D negatively affects calcium absorption.[3] Without adequate absorption, the body must take calcium from its stores in the skeleton, which weakens existing bone and prevents the formation of strong, new bone. Clinical research shows that taking vitamin D orally with calcium supplements can support healthy bone turnover[4-6], and adequate calcium and vitamin D throughout life—as part of a well-balanced diet—may reduce the risk of osteoporosis.*

Vitamin D3 Dosage

It's commonly recommended to adjust vitamin D3 dose based on sun exposure, vitamin D blood levels, and time of the year.

Here's what a lot of supplement companies won't tell you: Generally, folks don't need to take a vitamin D supplement if they are in the sun for 15-20 minutes most days between April and October, or if they have a normal vitamin D blood level (we generally aim for levels above 40, even though most labs consider 20 or 30 to be normal). 

Based on these considerations, common dosing is:

  • 2,000 IU daily when there is some sun exposure and blood levels are low normal.
  • 5,000 IU daily when there is no or very little sun exposure (i.e., during the winter months) and/or blood levels are very low.

Vitamin D3 Side Effects

Vitamin D toxicity is a rare, but serious condition that can be caused by taking high doses of vitamin D supplements over an extended period of time. Research in this area has cited toxicity when individuals take 60,000 IU daily over several months. Toxicity is associated with a buildup of calcium in the blood and a variety of symptoms come along with it (e.g., vomiting, fatigue, frequent urination, formation of calcium stones).

Important strategies to avoid toxicity include having your blood levels checked, working with a doctor before beginning a supplement, and avoiding excessive dosing unless it is part of a treatment plan that is monitored by your doctor.

Vitamin D3 Supplements at the NMH Store

 

Illuminate (5000) is cholecalciferol provided in convenient softgels.

 

Illuminate Drops is cholecalciferol derived from lanolin and provided in a liquid base of sunflower oil and purified water.

*Note: Some of the supplements discussed in this article can cause side effects, but many people tolerate them much better than prescription medications. They are generally considered safe, however, they should not be started without your doctor’s knowledge and supervision. If you are taking medication already, be sure to talk with your doctor before adding any of these items. If you are considering going off medication, remember never to stop your medication suddenly—always consult with your doctor about how to safely taper off any psychiatric medication. See terms.

**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

 


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SOURCES
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  2. Cannell JJ, Hollis BW. Use of vitamin D in clinical practice. Altern Med Rev. 2008 Mar;13(1):6-20. [PMID: 18377099]
  3. Heany RP. Vitamin D in health and disease. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2008 Sep;3(5):1535-41. [PMID: 18525006]
  4. Dawson-Hughes B, Harris SS, Krall EA, et al. Effect of calcium and vitamin D supplementation on bone density in men and women 65 years of age or older. N Engl J Med. 1997;337:670-76. [PMID: 9278463]
  5. Papadimitropoulos E, Wells G, Shea B, et al. Meta-analyses of therapies for postmenopausal osteoporosis. VIII: Meta-analysis of the efficacy of vitamin D treatment in preventing osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Endocr Rev. 2002;23:560-69. [PMID: 12202471]
  6. Lips P, Bouillon R, van Schoor NM, et al. Reducing fracture risk with calcium and vitamin D. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2010 Sep;73(3):277-85. [PMID: 20796001]
  7. Garland CF, French CB, Baggerly LL, et al. Vitamin d supplement doses and serum 25-hydroxyvitamin d in the range associated with cancer prevention. Anticancer Res. 2011 Feb;31(2):607-11. [PMID: 21378345]
  8. Raman M, Milestone AN, Walters JR, et al. Vitamin D and gastrointestinal diseases: inflammatory bowel disease and colorectal cancer. Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2011 Jan;4(1):49-62. [PMID: 21317994]
  9. Humble MB. Vitamin D, light and mental health. J Photochem Photobiol B. 2010 Nov;101(2):142-49. [PMID: 18445674]
  10. Grant WB, Soles CM. Epidemiologic evidence supporting the role of maternal vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for the development of infantile autism. Dermatoendocrinol. 2009 Jul;1(4):223-28. [PMID: 20592795]
  11. Currenti SA. Understanding and determining the etiology of autism. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2010 Mar;30(2):161-71. [PMID: 19774457]
  12. Naito M, Miyaki K, Naito T, et al. Association between vitamin D receptor gene haplotypes and chronic periodontitis among Japanese men. Int J Med Sci. 2007 Aug;4(4):216-22. [PMID: 17848979]
  13. McGrath JJ, Burne TH, Féron F, et al. Developmental vitamin D deficiency and risk of schizophrenia: a 10-year update. Schizophr Bull. 2010 Nov;36(6):1073-78. [PMID: 20833696]
  14. Gandini S, Boniol M, Haukka J, et al. Meta-analysis of observational studies of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and colorectal, breast and prostate cancer and colorectal adenoma. IntJ Cancer. 2011 Mar;128(6):1414-24. doi: 10.1002/ijc.25439. [PMID: 20473927]
  15. Yin L, Grandi N, Raum E, et al. Meta-analysis: circulating vitamin D and ovarian cancer risk. Gynecol Oncol. 2011 Feb 14. [Epub ahead of print] [PMID: 21324518]
  16. Grant WB, Goldstein M, Mascitelli L. Ample evidence exists from human studies that vitamin D reduces the risk of selected bacterial and viral infections. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2010Dec;235(12):1395-96; discussion 1397. [PMID: 21171208]
  17. Beard JA, Bearden A, Striker R. Vitamin D and the anti-viral state. J Clin Virol. 2011 Mar;50(3):194-200. [PMID: 21242105]
  18. Hertting O, Holm Å, Lüthje P, et al. Vitamin D induction of the human antimicrobial peptide cathelicidin in the urinary bladder. PLoS One. 2010 Dec;5(12):e15580. [PMID: 21179490]
  19. Grant WB, Boucher BJ. Requirements for vitamin D across the life span. Biol Res Nurs. 2011 Jan 17. [Epub ahead of print] [PMID: 21242196]
  20. Heaney RP, Recker RR, Grote J, et al. Vitamin d3 is more potent than vitamin d2 in humans. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011 Mar;96(3):E447-52. [PMID: 21177785]
  21. Tripkovic, L., Lambert, H., Hart, K., Smith, C. P., Bucca, G., Penson, S., Chope, G., Hyppönen, E., Berry, J., Vieth, R., & Lanham-New, S. (2012). Comparison of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 supplementation in raising serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D status: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 95(6), 1357–1364. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.111.031070

 

 

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MEDICAL DISCLAIMER

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice and is not a replacement for advice and treatment from a medical professional. Consult your doctor or other qualified health professional regarding specific health questions. Individuals providing content to this website take no responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. It is also essential to consult your physician or other qualified health professional before beginning any diet change, supplement, or lifestyle program.