Vitamin D – How much do you really need?

Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that can be found in few food including fatty fish such as herring, mackerel, sardines and tuna. Vitamin D has been fortified to many food including dairy products, juices, and cereals but most vitamin D – 80% to 90% of what the body gets – is obtained through exposure to sunlight.


Vitamin D has recently received some great press with new healthy benefits to vitamin D such as

  • Reducing the risk of multiple sclerosis (MS). Studies show taking vitamin D seems to reduce women’s risk of getting MS by up to 40%. 

  • Preventing cancer. Some studies shows that people who take a high-dose vitamin D supplement plus calcium might have a lower chance of developing cancer of any type.

  • Weight loss. Women taking calcium plus vitamin D have been shown to be more likely to lose weight and maintain their weight. However, this was shown mainly in women who did not get adequate calcium intake before they started taking supplements.

  • Flu. Some research in school aged children show that taking a vitamin D supplement during winter might reduce the chance of getting seasonal flu.

  • Reducing the risk of rheumatoid arthritis in older women.



Wow, look at all the great information out there – so how much do we really need?  There are many association upping the recommended daily intake for vitamin D, especially those that do not live in the south and are vitamin D deficient due to low levels from the sun.

In 2008, the American Academy of Pediatrics increased the recommended minimum daily intake of vitamin D to 400 IU daily for all infants and children, including adolescents.

The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends vitamin D 400 IU to 800 IU daily for adults under age 50, and 800 IU to 1000 IU daily for older adults.

The North American Menopause Society recommends 700 IU to 800 IU daily for women at risk of deficiency due to low sun exposure.

The Osteoporosis Society of Canada recommend vitamin D 400 IU per day for people up to age 50, and 800 IU per day for people over 50.

Osteoporosis Canada now recommends 400-1000 IU daily for adults under the age of 50 years and 800-2000 IU daily for adults over the age of 50 years.

The Canadian Cancer Society recommends 1000 IU/day during the fall and winter for adults in Canada. For those with a higher risk of having low vitamin D levels, this dose should be taken year round. This includes people who have dark skin, usually wear clothing that covers most of their skin, and people who are older or who don’t go outside often.


Right now there is still more research needed but it has been shown that vitamin D plays a key role and very important in the body – therefore getting adequate in a daily supplement plus eating foods that are high and good sources of vitamin D is essential to maintaining proper health.