Cholecalciferol or Calcifediol in the Management of Vitamin D Deficiency

Nutrients. 2020 May 31;12(6):1617. doi: 10.3390/nu12061617.


Vitamin D deficiency is a global health problem due to its high prevalence and its negative consequences on musculoskeletal and extra-skeletal health. In our comparative review of the two exogenous vitamin D supplementation options most used in our care setting, we found that cholecalciferol has more scientific evidence with positive results than calcifediol in musculoskeletal diseases and that it is the form of vitamin D of choice in the most accepted and internationally recognized clinical guidelines on the management of osteoporosis. Cholecalciferol, unlike calcifediol, guarantees an exact dosage in IU (International Units) of vitamin D and has pharmacokinetic properties that allow either daily or even weekly, fortnightly, or monthly administration in its equivalent doses, which can facilitate adherence to treatment. Regardless of the pattern of administration, cholecalciferol may be more likely to achieve serum levels of 25(OH)D (25-hydroxy-vitamin D) of 30-50 ng/mL, an interval considered optimal for maximum benefit at the lowest risk. In summary, the form of vitamin D of choice for exogenous supplementation should be cholecalciferol, with calcifediol reserved for patients with liver failure or severe intestinal malabsorption syndromes.

Keywords: calcifediol; cholecalciferol; hypovitaminosis D; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcifediol / administration & dosage
  • Calcifediol / therapeutic use*
  • Cholecalciferol / administration & dosage
  • Cholecalciferol / therapeutic use*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal System / drug effects
  • Osteoporosis / drug therapy
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / drug therapy*


  • Vitamin D
  • Cholecalciferol
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • Calcifediol