How Much Vitamin D Do You Need Per Day?

Dec 20, 2021 , Bone HealthImmune SystemVitamin D

How Much Vitamin D Per Day

Quick Health Scoop

  • Vitamin D plays a key role in supporting bone health, muscle function, and immunity†
  • You can get vitamin D from the sun, limited food sources, and supplements
  • Vitamin D deficiency can cause serious health problems including rickets and osteoporosis
  • Most adults need a vitamin D daily dose of 1000 – 2000 IU

You may know vitamin D as “the sunshine vitamin” to help support bone health. But did you also know that vitamin D benefits other areas of your health? Vitamin D also supports muscle health and function. And it supports immune health, too! Vitamin D helps to regulate the immune system response and supports immune cell function. † [2,3] 

Learn More: How Vitamin D Benefits Your Immune System

Unfortunately, it’s estimated that 95% of Americans don’t get enough vitamin D from their diet alone.[4] Research shows that  up to 40% of U.S. adults have a blood level indicating vitamin D deficiency that can lead to serious health problems. [5]

With concerns of vitamin D deficiency, you might be wondering, “How much vitamin D do I need?” What are the effects of vitamin D deficiency? And what are good sources of vitamin D? 

Let’s find out.

How Much Vitamin D Do I Need?

The vitamin D recommended daily intake depends on multiple factors, including age, skin color, how much sun exposure you get, where you live (certain geographical latitudes get less sunlight), the season, and whether or not you wear sunscreen. 

In general, the recommended amounts of how much vitamin D per day (measured in either micrograms or international units) is below: [2,6] 

Age/Life Stage

How Much Vitamin D You Need 

Birth to 12 months

10mcg or 400 IU

Children 1-13 years

15mcg or 600 IU

Teens 14-18 years

15mcg or 600 IU

Adults 19-70 years

15mcg or 600 IU

Adults 71 years and older

20mcg or 800 IU

Pregnant and breastfeeding women

15mcg or 600 IU

However, if you’ve got a vitamin D deficiency, you’ll likely need a higher vitamin D dosage —at least temporarily—until you restore your vitamin D levels. 

What Are Signs Of Low Vitamin D? 

With the prevalence of low vitamin D, you might wonder what symptoms to look for. Vitamin D deficiency can lead to decreased bone density, contributing to fractures, osteoporosis, and rickets.[6,7] It may be more difficult to spot less obvious signs of low vitamin D, including: [7,8] 

  • Fatigue 
  • Bone or joint pain
  • Muscle weakness, aches, or cramps
  • Mood changes
  • Weight gain
  • Hair loss

How much vitamin D should you take if you’re deficient? Talk with your healthcare provider, who will likely prescribe you a vitamin D supplement. The recommended vitamin D dosage for adults at risk for vitamin D deficiency is 1500-2000 IU, but your doctor will determine the dosage best suited to your specific health needs.[8]

For patients at risk for vitamin D deficiency, the Endocrine Society recommends:[11]

  • Birth to 12 months: 400-1,000 IU per day
  • Children 1+ years: 600-1,000 IU per day
  • Adults 19-70 years: 1,500-2,000 IU
  • Adults 70+ years: 1,500-2,000 IU per day
  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women 19-50 years: 1,500-2,000 IU per day

How long does it take to correct a vitamin D deficiency?  By taking the prescribed vitamin D dosage, you should see improvements in three to four months.[8]

For more detailed information, see the Vitamin D intakes recommended by the IOM and the Endocrine Practice Guidelines Committee in the table below:[11] 

Life stage group

IOM recommendations

Committee recommendations for patients at risk for vitamin D deficiency

Adequate Intake (AI)

Estimated Average Requirement (EAR)

RDA

Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL)

Daily requirement

UL

Infants 

 

 

 

 

 

 

0 to 6 months 

400 IU (10 μg) 

 

 

1,000 IU (25 μg) 

400–1,000 IU 

2,000 IU 

6 to 12 months 

400 IU (10 μg) 

 

 

1,500 IU (38 μg) 

400–1,000 IU 

2,000 IU 

Children 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1–3 yr 

 

400 IU (10 μg) 

600 IU (15 μg) 

2,500 IU (63 μg) 

600–1,000 IU 

4,000 IU 

4–8 yr 

 

400 IU (10 μg) 

600 IU (15 μg) 

3,000 IU (75 μg) 

600–1,000 IU 

4,000 IU 

Males & Females 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9–18 yr 

 

400 IU (10 μg) 

600 IU (15 μg) 

4,000 IU (100 μg) 

600–1,000 IU 

4,000 IU 

19–70 yr 

 

400 IU (10 μg) 

600 IU (15 μg) 

4,000 IU (100 μg) 

1,500–2,000 IU 

10,000 IU 

>70 yr 

 

400 IU (10 μg) 

800 IU (20 μg) 

4,000 IU (100 μg) 

1,500–2,000 IU 

10,000 IU 

Pregnancy 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14–18 yr 

 

400 IU (10 μg) 

600 IU (15 μg) 

4,000 IU (100 μg) 

600–1,000 IU 

4,000 IU 

19–50 yr 

 

400 IU (10 μg) 

600 IU (15 μg) 

4,000 IU (100 μg) 

1,500–2,000 IU 

10,000 IU 

Lactation 

 

 

 

 

 

 

14–18 yr 

 

400 IU (10 μg) 

600 IU (15 μg) 

4,000 IU (100 μg) 

600–1,000 IU 

4,000 IU 

19–50 yr 

 

400 IU (10 μg) 

600 IU (15 μg) 

4,000 IU (100 μg) 

1,500–2,000 IU 

10,000 IU 

Should I Take Vitamin D or D3?

Whether found in foods or dietary supplements, Vitamin D actually comes in two main forms: [9]

  • Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) is in some mushrooms
  • Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) is in beef liver, egg yolks, cheese, oily fish, and fish liver oil

Can you take vitamin D3 every day? Yes! Research shows that vitamin D3 is roughly 87% more potent in raising blood levels of vitamin D and produces two to three times greater storage of vitamin D in the body compared to vitamin D2, thus making vitamin D3 the preferred vitamin D form by the body.[10]

When should you take vitamin D: morning or night? While time of day doesn’t really matter with your vitamin D dosage, many people take vitamins as part of their morning routine. Because vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it’s absorbed more easily in the presence of dietary fat. For breakfast, this could mean eating some healthy fat such as avocado, full-fat dairy, or eggs with your supplement for best vitamin D absorption.

Learn More: The Best Time to Take Vitamins

What Are Good Sources Of Vitamin D?

You can get your vitamin D daily dosage from three main sources: the sun, food, and supplements. While you can spend 10-15 minutes in the sun without sunscreen every day to increase your vitamin D intake, you might be worried about damaging UV rays. That’s why it’s important to ensure your diet includes plenty of vitamin D-rich foods. Good sources include fatty fish, cod liver oils, beef liver, cheese, egg yolks, and mushrooms, as well as vitamin D-fortified foods (such as cereal, milk and orange juice). Finally, taking a vitamin D supplement, such as Vitamin D softgels, can fill in any nutritional gaps.

Learn More: How Much Vitamin D Do You Get from the Sun?

The Bottom Line

Vitamin D is important for maintaining bone health, muscle functioning, and immunity. But with up to 40% of U.S. adults having a vitamin D deficiency, you might be wondering, “How much vitamin D should I take?” The daily dosage depends on a variety of factors (including age, skin color, latitude, and more), but in general, it’s recommended that most adults take 15mcg or 600 IU of vitamin D per day.

Continue to check back on the Nature Made blog for the latest science-backed articles to help you take ownership of your health.

Learn More About Vitamins & Supplements:


This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice or a recommendation for any specific product. Consult your health care provider for more information. 


† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


References 

  1. Harvard Health Publishing. “Vitamin D and your health: Breaking old rules, raising new hopes.” May 17, 2019. Accessed on: June 1, 2021. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/vitamin-d-and-your-health-breaking-old-rules-raising-new-hopes
  2. National Institutes of Health. “Vitamin D.” March 22, 2021. Accessed on: September 6, 2021. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/
  3. Journal of Investigative Medicine. “Vitamin D and the Immune System.” August 1, 2012. Accessed on: October 1, 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3166406/
  4. Nutrients. “Inadequacy of Immune Health Nutrients: Intakes in US Adults, the 2005-2016 NHANES.”  June 2020. Accessed on: September 5, 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7352522/
  5. Nutrition Research. “Prevalence and correlates of vitamin D deficiency in US adults.” January 2011. Accessed on: May 28, 2021. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21310306/
  6. MedlinePlus. “Vitamin D Deficiency.” February 28, 2017. Accessed on: September 13, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/vitaminddeficiency.html
  7. Cleveland Clinic. “Vitamin D Deficiency.” October 16, 2019. Accessed on: September 6, 2021. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/15050-vitamin-d--vitamin-d-deficiency
  8. Unity Point Health. “How to Spot a Vitamin D Deficiency.” February 28, 2021. Accessed on: September 6, 2021. https://www.unitypoint.org/article.aspx?id=ca7f4766-8ba8-43a2-bbe7-0ef9efab5c6d
  9. National Institutes of Health. “Vitamin D (For Professionals).” August 17, 2021. Accessed on: September 13, 2021. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/
  10. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. “Vitamin D(3) is more potent than vitamin D(2) in humans.” December 22, 2010. Accessed on: September 6, 2021. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21177785/
  11. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 96, Issue 7, “Evaluation, Treatment, and Prevention of Vitamin D Deficiency: an Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline.” 1 July 2011, Pages 1911–1930, https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2011-0385

Authors

Lisa Beach

NatureMade Contributor

Lisa Beach is a seasoned journalist whose work has been published in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Eating Well, Parents, AARP’s Disrupt Aging, Optimum Wellness, and dozens more. She also writes for a variety of health/wellness-focused brands. Check out her writer’s website at www.LisaBeachWrites.com.

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Lynn M. Laboranti, RD

Science and Health Educator

Lynn is a Registered Dietitian (R.D.) and is a member of the Medical and Scientific Communications team at Pharmavite. She has over 20 years of experience in integrative and functional nutrition and has given lectures to health professionals and consumers on nutrition, dietary supplements and related health issues. Lynn frequently conducts employee trainings on various nutrition topics in addition to educating retail partners on vitamins, minerals and supplements. Lynn has previous clinical dietitian expertise in both acute and long-term care, as well as nutrition counseling for weight management, diabetes, and sports nutrition. Lynn earned a bachelor’s of science in Nutrition with a minor in Kinesiology/Exercise Science from The Pennsylvania State University. She earned a M.S. degree in Human Nutrition from Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Lynn is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Sports Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionists, Dietitians in Functional Medicine, and holds a certification in Integrative and Functional Nutrition through the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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