Vitamin D

Photo of raspberries

Are you getting enough?

Vitamin D is necessary for your body to absorb calcium and is important for your bone health.

How much vitamin D do you need?

AgeVitamin D3 per day
Children 2 months through 18 years200 IU
Adults under 50600 IU
Adults 50 and older1,000 IU

Vitamin D from food

Most foods don't have much vitamin D, if any. You would have to eat 50 eggs or drink 10 glasses of milk to get 1,000 IU (international units). Sockeye salmon is one good source, with about 1,000 IU in 4 to 5 ounces. Because it's difficult to get enough vitamin D from food, a supplement may be necessary.

Vitamin D and the sun

Many people get enough vitamin D from sunlight, but this may not be a good source if you regularly use sunscreen or you avoid the sun entirely because of the risk of skin cancer.

Talk to your practitioner about balancing the risks of skin cancer and your vitamin D needs.

Do you need a supplement?

Your doctor may recommend a higher amount of vitamin D if you're not getting enough. Ask your practitioner about screening for low vitamin D levels if you have:

  • Bone or muscle pain
  • General weakness
  • A recent fracture without a fall or injury
  • Osteopenia or osteoporosis
  • Low blood calcium levels
  • Problems with your gastrointestinal system, liver, kidneys, or parathyroid glands

Reviewed by: Juanita Watts, MD, April 2016

Additional Kaiser Permanente Reviewers

© 2016 Kaiser Permanente

Reviewed by: Kari Carlson, MD, December 2018