Vitamin D Deficiency: Implications Across the Lifespan

Rebecca Wike Malone; Cathy Kessenich


Journal for Nurse Practitioners. 2008;4(6):448-456. 

In This Article


Vitamin D deficiency affects people of all races, age, religions, and regions of the world. If practicing in an area of northern latitude, it is important to help patients understand that sun exposure in the winter does not provide vitamin D absorption. In addition, use of sunscreen greater than SPF 8 will block the absorption of vitamin D. While sunscreen is important to prevent skin cancer, patients who obtain 15 minutes of sun exposure 2 to 4 days week without sunscreen can increase their vitamin D levels.

Recommendations from 1997 for vitamin D intake are 200 IU/day for young adults, 400 IU/day for ages 51 to 70, and 600 IU for those greater than 70 years of age.[12] It has been shown that to maintain adequate serum levels of vitamin D requires higher daily intake. Through current research, it has been determined that the average recommended supplement intake is 1000 IU of vitamin D3 daily for all ages.[12] Vitamin D supplements are relatively safe. To reach vitamin D toxicity, the serum 25(OH)D has to be at 150 ng/mL or above‒this serum level would require supplementation greater than 10,000 IU.[10] Vitamin D affects disease processes in the heart, muscle, lungs, skin, bones, and GI tract. In clinical practice, it is important to encourage vitamin D supplementation daily for all patients.


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