Optimal Vitamin D Supplementation Doses that Minimize the Risk for Both Low and High Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentrations in the General Population

Nutrients. 2015 Dec 4;7(12):10189-208. doi: 10.3390/nu7125527.


The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is the nutrient intake considered to be sufficient to meet the requirements of 97.5% of the population. Recent reports revealed a statistical error in the calculation of the RDA for vitamin D opening the question of what the recommendation should be. We took a dual approach to answer this question: (1) we aggregated 108 published estimates on vitamin D supplementation and vitamin D status; and (2) we analyzed 13,987 observations of program participants. The aggregation of published data revealed that 2909 IU of vitamin D per day is needed to achieve serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentrations of 50 nmol/L or more in 97.5% of healthy individuals. For normal weight, overweight and obese program participants this was 3094, 4450 and 7248 IU respectively. These supplementation doses would also result in 2.5% of normal weight, overweight and obese participants having 25(OH)D concentrations above 210, 200 and 214 nmol/L respectively. As these concentrations are high, an approach that minimizes the risk for both low and high concentrations seems desirable. With this approach we estimated, for example, that doses of 1885, 2802 and 6235 IU per day are required for normal weight, overweight and obese individuals respectively to achieve natural 25(OH)D concentrations (defined as 58 to 171 nmol/L). In conclusion, the large extent of variability in 25(OH)D concentrations makes a RDA for vitamin D neither desirable nor feasible. We therefore propose recommendations be articulated in the form of an optimal intake that minimizes the risk for both low and high serum 25(OH)D concentrations. This contribution includes body weight specific recommendations for optimal intakes for various combinations of lower and upper 25(OH)D concentration targets.

Keywords: disease prevention; nutrition; optimal vitamin D intake; optimal vitamin D status; public health; recommended daily allowance; vitamin D; vitamin D deficiency; vitamin D supplementation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Status
  • Obesity / blood
  • Recommended Dietary Allowances
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin D / blood*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / prevention & control


  • Vitamin D