Vitamin D:  Reference Intakes  /  RDA


Source:  http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind/

Intake reference values for vitamin D and other nutrients are provided in the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) developed by the Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) at the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies (formerly National Academy of Sciences). DRI is the general term for a set of reference values used to plan and assess nutrient intakes of healthy people. These values, which vary by age and gender, include:

The FNB established an RDA for vitamin D representing a daily intake that is sufficient to maintain bone health and normal calcium metabolism in healthy people. RDAs for vitamin D are listed in both International Units (IUs) and micrograms (mcg); the biological activity of 40 IU is equal to 1 mcg (Table 2). Even though sunlight may be a major source of vitamin D for some, the vitamin D RDAs are set on the basis of minimal sun exposure.

Table 2: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin D
Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
0–12 months* 400 IU
(10 mcg)
400 IU
(10 mcg)
   
1–13 years 600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
   
14–18 years 600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
19–50 years 600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
51–70 years 600 IU
(15 mcg)
600 IU
(15 mcg)
   
>70 years 800 IU
(20 mcg)
800 IU
(20 mcg)
   

 

 

Health Risks from Excessive Vitamin D

Vitamin D toxicity can cause non-specific symptoms such as anorexia, weight loss, polyuria, and heart arrhythmias. More seriously, it can also raise blood levels of calcium which leads to vascular and tissue calcification, with subsequent damage to the heart, blood vessels, and kidneys [1]. The use of supplements of both calcium (1,000 mg/day) and vitamin D (400 IU) by postmenopausal women was associated with a 17% increase in the risk of kidney stones over 7 years in the Women's Health Initiative. A serum 25(OH)D concentration consistently >500 nmol/L (>200 ng/mL) is considered to be potentially toxic.

Excessive sun exposure does not result in vitamin D toxicity because the sustained heat on the skin is thought to photodegrade previtamin D3 and vitamin D3 as it is formed. In addition, thermal activation of previtamin D3 in the skin gives rise to various non-vitamin D forms that limit formation of vitamin D3 itself. Some vitamin D3 is also converted to nonactive forms [1]. Intakes of vitamin D from food that are high enough to cause toxicity are very unlikely. Toxicity is much more likely to occur from high intakes of dietary supplements containing vitamin D.

Long-term intakes above the UL increase the risk of adverse health effects [1] (Table 4). Most reports suggest a toxicity threshold for vitamin D of 10,000 to 40,000 IU/day and serum 25(OH)D levels of 500–600 nmol/L (200–240 ng/mL). While symptoms of toxicity are unlikely at daily intakes below 10,000 IU/day, the FNB pointed to emerging science from national survey data, observational studies, and clinical trials suggesting that even lower vitamin D intakes and serum 25(OH)D levels might have adverse health effects over time. The FNB concluded that serum 25(OH)D levels above approximately 125–150 nmol/L (50–60 ng/mL) should be avoided, as even lower serum levels (approximately 75–120 nmol/L or 30–48 ng/mL) are associated with increases in all-cause mortality, greater risk of cancer at some sites like the pancreas, greater risk of cardiovascular events, and more falls and fractures among the elderly. The FNB committee cited research which found that vitamin D intakes of 5,000 IU/day achieved serum 25(OH)D concentrations between 100–150 nmol/L (40–60 ng/mL), but no greater. Applying an uncertainty factor of 20% to this intake value gave a UL of 4,000 IU which the FNB applied to children aged 9 and older, with corresponding lower amounts for younger children.

Table 4: Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (ULs) for Vitamin D [1]
Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
0–6 months 1,000 IU
(25 mcg)
1,000 IU
(25 mcg)
   
7–12 months 1,500 IU
(38 mcg)
1,500 IU
(38 mcg)
   
1–3 years 2,500 IU
(63 mcg)
2,500 IU
(63 mcg)
   
4–8 years 3,000 IU
(75 mcg)
3,000 IU
(75 mcg)
   
greater than or equal9 years 4,000 IU
(100 mcg)
4,000 IU
(100 mcg)
4,000 IU
(100 mcg)
4,000 IU
(100 mcg)

 

1. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2010.