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Health Canada Increases the Limit for Vitamin D Supplements

… so you can safely enjoy more of the sunshine vitamin

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Health Canada Increases the Limit for Vitamin D Supplements

Good news for vitamin D fans! Health Canada has recently increased the maximum dose allowed for non-prescription oral vitamin D supplements to 2,500 IU per day for adults. The change comes after calls from consumers and industry professionals to better align with the growing body of research. This dosage is higher than Health Canada’s recommended dietary allowance—the required daily dosage to meet the needs of more than 97 percent of the population—which is 600 IU for most adults. (See a full listing of Health Canada’s recommended and maximum daily intake below.)

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What is vitamin D?

Welcome to vitamin D 101. Also known as the sunshine vitamin, this fat-soluble, essential vitamin aids in the regulation of calcium and phosphorous in our bodies. Because of this, vitamin D plays a very important role in building and maintaining our bones and teeth.

Compared to the other vitamins that are essential for good health, vitamin D is an outlier because it comes from multiple sources. It can be naturally found in a few foods—egg yolks and fatty fish—is added to fortified dairy products like milk, and can be consumed via supplements. However, the body also makes the vitamin when exposed to sunlight—hence the nickname.

Both vitamin D2, which is generally human-made and added in fortified foods, and D3, which is naturally synthesized in the skin and can be consumed through animal-based foods—are available in supplement form.

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Not getting enough?

Many people don’t receive enough vitamin D from sunlight or dietary sources and may need to supplement. Season, weather, time of day, skin pigmentation, age, time spent outside, and wearing sunscreen (though a smart skincare decision) are all factors that affect, and can inhibit, the amount of vitamin D you receive.

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Vitamin D deficiency

Without the proper amount of vitamin D, the body absorbs less than 15 percent of the dietary calcium consumed, as opposed to 30 to 40 percent with adequate amounts. In addition, low vitamin D levels can lead to decreased levels of blood phosphorous and calcium, causing calcium to be drawn from the bones.

As such, vitamin D deficiency has been associated with several bone-related health risks, including rickets—a bone disease leading to soft bones and skeletal deformities—as well as osteomalacia (bone softening) in children, and osteoporosis (fragile bones) in adults.

More recently, several other health problems have been associated with vitamin D deficiency, including muscle weakness and bone pain, cognitive impairment as you age, cancer, increased risk of death due to cardiovascular disease, and asthma in children.

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Vitamin D supplements

If you’re not getting enough of the sunshine vitamin from food or sunlight, supplements are a great way to give you a boost. There are a variety of vitamin D supplements readily available, including tablets, soft-gels, liquid drops, and even gummies. For kids, there are children-specific capsules, tailored to the proper dose and for easy consumption, so the whole family can soak up the sunshine—even when you’re stuck indoors.

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Health Canada’s updated vitamin D daily intake

Age Recommended dietary allowance (RDA) per day  Tolerable upper intake level (UL) per day 
Infants 0-6 months 400 IU (adequate intake) 1,000 IU
Infants 7-12 months 400 IU (adequate intake) 1,500 IU
Children 1-3 years 600 IU 2,500 IU
Children 4-8 years 600 IU 3,000 IU
Children and adults 9-70 years 600 IU 4,000 IU
Adults > 70 years 800 IU 4,000 IU
Pregnancy & lactation 600 IU 4,000 IU

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More isn’t always better

It’s important to note that consuming more than Health Canada’s recommended dietary allowance has not shown any additional benefits. Rather, exceeding the maximum recommended dosage can result in unfavorable or harmful side effects. Check with your health care practitioner to determine what’s ideal for you.

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