Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for your health. Vitamin D helps your body absorb and use calcium. Calcium and vitamin D work together to help build and support strong, healthy bones and teeth, which helps protect:

  • Infants and children from developing rickets, a disease in which bones don’t grow properly.
  • Teens, adults and seniors from developing osteoporosis, a disease in which bones become thin and weak, making them more likely to break.

Vitamin D also helps your muscles, nerves, and immune system work properly.

Where do I get vitamin D? (click to expand) »
  • Food
    Food sources of vitamin D include:

    • Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and trout
    • Egg yolks
    • Soft margarine
    • Fortified milk
    • Fortified plant-based beverages
  • Supplements
    Most multivitamin supplements and calcium supplements have vitamin D. You can also buy vitamin D as a single supplement. The amount of vitamin D in a supplement can vary, so it’s important to read the label.
  • Sun
    Your body can make vitamin D when exposed to the sun, but most people in Canada can’t meet their needs from the sun. Things that will reduce how much vitamin D your body makes include:

    • sunscreen use
    • cloud cover
    • the amount of skin exposed to sunlight

Most people in Canada need to get vitamin D from food or supplements. This is because we do not get as much sun as we need to make enough vitamin D.

How much vitamin D do I need? (click to expand) »

The amount of vitamin D you need depends on your age. The table below gives the recommended amount of vitamin D. This includes the vitamin D you would get from food and supplements.

Age Recommended amount
Birth to 12 months 400 IU
1-70 years 600 IU
71 years and older 800 IU

Some people may have different vitamin D needs, such as:

  • Babies born preterm.
  • People with health conditions that affect fat absorption, such as inflammatory bowel disease, Celiac disease, liver disease, intestinal failure.
  • People with health conditions that affect how vitamin D works such as kidney disease.
  • People who have undergone gastric bypass surgery.

Vitamin D supplements can also interact with some medicines.

Talk with a health care provider such as a doctor, dietitian or pharmacist to discuss your vitamin D needs.

Check out the information below to learn what you can do to help meet your and your family’s vitamin D needs.

Babies and Toddlers (0-2 years) (click to expand) »

Babies and toddlers need vitamin D to build and keep strong healthy bones and teeth.

If your baby is breastfeeding or receiving any breastmilk:

  • Give them a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU (10 mcg) every day. If they completely stop breastfeeding or receiving breastmilk and are getting enough vitamin D from other sources, you can stop giving your baby a vitamin D supplement.
  • Start giving your baby a vitamin D supplement as soon as possible after they are born.
  • Choose a supplement that only has vitamin D and is in liquid form.
  • Carefully read the label for instructions on how to give the supplement. Only use the dropper that comes with the supplement.

If your baby is not breastfeeding or receiving breastmilk:

  • Most babies who are formula-fed do not need a vitamin D supplement because companies add vitamin D to infant formula when they are making it.
People between 2 and 50 years old (click to expand) »
  • Eat foods that have adequate amounts of vitamin D every day or
  • Take a supplement that has 400 IU (10 mcg) of vitamin D every day
People 51 years of age and older (click to expand) »
  • Take a supplement that has 400 IU (10 mcg) of vitamin D every day
  • Eat foods that have vitamin D every day

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Last updated: 2024-03-14