Vitamin D supplementation in the elderly: review of safety and effectiveness of different regimes

Calcif Tissue Int. 1995 Jun;56(6):518-20. doi: 10.1007/BF00298580.


Vitamin D deficiency is common in the elderly, especially in countries where effective sunlight or exposure to sunlight is limited. Two regimes for vitamin D supplementation--low-dose daily oral administration and intermittent high-dose administration--were examined with regard to safety and effectiveness. Eleven papers reporting studies in 449 elderly subjects were reviewed. On low-dose continuous supplementation mean concentration of 25 hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) ranged from 57 to 105 nmol/L compared to 55 to 87 nmol/L following high-dose supplementation. These mean values fall within the physiological range for young adults. Hypercalcemia occurred in only 3 subjects and was associated with a predisposing cause in 2 of 3 subjects. We suggest that low dose continuous supplementation (10 to 20 micrograms daily) is the regime of choice but high-dose intermittent supplementation (2.5 mg six monthly) may be suitable where compliance is poor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Calcium / blood
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hydroxycholecalciferols / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / prevention & control*


  • Hydroxycholecalciferols
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium