Vitamin D


Vitamin D Food Sources

FoodInternational Units%DV *
Cod Liver Oil, 1 Tbs. 1,360 IU 340
Salmon, cooked, 3 1/2 oz 360 IU 90
Mackerel, cooked, 3 1/2 oz 345 IU 90
Sardines, canned in oil, drained,3 1/2 oz 270 IU 70
Eel, cooked, 3 1/2 oz 200 IU 50
Milk, nonfat, reduced fat, and whole, vitamin D fortified, 1 c 98 IU 25
Margarine, fortified, 1 Tbs. 60 IU 15
Cereal grain bars, fortified w/ 10% of the DV, 1 each 50 IU 10
Pudding, 1/2 c prepared from mix and made with vitamin D fortified milk 50 IU 10
Dry cereal, Vitamin D fortified w/10%* of DV, 3/4 c * Other cereals may be fortified with more or less vitamin D 40-50 IU 10
Liver, beef, cooked, 3 1/2 oz 30 IU 8
Egg, 1 whole (vitamin D is present in the yolk) 25 IU 6


Vitamin D is readily available in numerous commercial sources, as a direct result of the mandatory vitamin fortification process of consumer foods. In fact, the majority of our dietary intake is due to the development of such fortified foods.

Vitamin D Uses

Vitamin D is critical in our body’s ability to digest and utilize calcium and phosphorus. This process is critical in the formation, function, and health of normal bone and tooth structures. It is estimated that over 25 million adults in the United States have, or are at risk of developing osteoporosis. [2] Adequate intake of Vitamin D in the first three decades of our lives drastically reduces our risks for development of osteoporosis and diseases associated with poor calcium and Vitamin D intake. Without vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, soft, or misshapen.

Other chronic diseases and illnesses which can be treated and managed with the Vitamin D include psoriasis and scleroderma. [4, 5] Also, medications used to treat epilepsy deplete Vitamin D storages from the body. Renewed supplementation can aid in the re-absorption of this crucial vitamin. [6]

Vitamin D Dosages


1 microgram (mcg) of Vitamin D = 40IU vitamin

Again, intakes of Vitamin D are correlated to the fortification processes of foods consumed in ones diet. The 1998 AIs for vitamin D for adults, in micrograms (mcg) and International Units (IUs) are as follows:

Ages 19-50 5 mcg* or 200 IU 5 mcg* or 200 IU
Ages 51-69 10 mcg* or 400 IU 10 mcg* or 400 IU
Ages 70 + 15 mcg* or 600 IU 15 mcg* or 600 IU


Vitamin D Toxicities and Deficiencies

Vitamin D Toxicities

Defined as ‘hypercalcemia,’ this excessive intake of Vitamin D is very rare. Vitamin D is most toxic when consumed in excess in young children. Signs of intoxification or overdose include:

  • Fragile Bones (osteoporosis)
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite (anorexia)
  • Calcium deposits; primarily in kidneys, heart, and major blood vessels
  • Increased cholesterol levels
  • Drowsiness, fatigue

Vitamin D Deficiencies

Two major diseases result from inadequate intake of Vitamin D and both occur in various stages of life. A Vitamin D deficiency in children leads to a disease known as Rickets. Associated with skeletal deformities, signs include (and are not limited to): spine, chest, and pelvis deformities, bowlegs, extended stomach (pot-belly), and enlarged joints.

Adult deficiency results in one developing osteomalcia, or softening of the bones. Vitamin D therapy is used to treat symptoms, including; rheumatic type bone pain, irreversible skeletal deformities, and minute fractures of bones. Vitamin D deficiencies are rare in the United States due to the development of fortified foods and proper education.

However, vitamin deficiencies are most prevalent in adults fifty years of age in older. This is due to the slowing of our metabolic process associated with aging. As we age our ability to convert Vitamin D is slowed, therefore increasing the likelihood of a deficiency. Older Americans (greater than age 50) are at greatest risk of developing vitamin D deficiency. [7]


1. Herbert, Victor. “Vitamins and Minerals Plus Antioxidant Supplements” Total Nutrition Ed. Victor Herbert, M.D., Genell J. Subak- Sharpe, M.S. New York: Saint Martin’s Griffin, 1995. 94-118

2. LeBoff MS, Kohlmeier L, Hurwitz S, Franklin J, Wright J, Glowacki J. Occult vitamin D deficiency in postmenopausal US women with acute hip fracture. J Am Med Assoc 1999;251:1505-1511

3. Clinical Nutrition Service, Warren Grant Magnuson Clinical Center, National Institutes of Health (NIH), NIH. Vitamin D December. 9. 2002.

4. Morimoto S, et al. Inverse Relation Between Severity of Psoriasis and Serum 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D Level. J Dermatol Sci. Jul1990;1(4):277-82.

5. Humbert P, et al. Treatment of Scleroderma with Oral 1,25- dihydroxyvitamin D3: Evaluation of Skin Involvement Using Non-invasive Techniques. Results of an Open Prospective Trial. Acta Derm Venereol. Dec1993;73(6):449-51.

6. Shafer RB, et al. Calcium and Folic Acid Absorption in Patients Taking Anticonvulsant Drugs. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. Dec1975;41(06):1125- 29.

7. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D and Fluoride. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 1999.