Exposure Assessment

The vitamin D content of unsupplemented diets is, for the most part, low and averages about 2.5 µg (100 IU)/day for women (Krall et al., 1989; Murphy and Calloway, 1986). Diets high in fish, an exceptionally rich natural source of vitamin D (USDA, 1991) are considerably higher in vitamin D. Because milk is fortified to contain 10 µg (400 IU)/quart (9.6 µg [385 IU]/liter) of vitamin D, persons with high milk intakes also may have relatively high vitamin D intakes. A 1986 survey estimated that the ninety-fifth percentile of supplement intake by users of vitamin D supplements was 20 µg (800 IU)/day for men and 17.2 µg (686 IU)/day for women (Moss et al., 1989).

The endogenous formation of vitamin D3 from sunlight irradiation of skin has never been implicated in vitamin intoxication. This is due to the destruction of the previtamin and vitamin D3 remaining in skin with continued exposure to ultraviolet irradiation (Holick, 1996).

Risk Characterization

For most people, vitamin D intake from food and supplements is unlikely to exceed the UL. However, persons who are at the upper end of the ranges for both sources of intake, particularly persons who use many supplements and those with high intakes of fish or fortified milk, may be at risk for vitamin D toxicity.


  • Research is needed to evaluate different intakes of vitamin D throughout the lifespan by geographical and racial variables that reflect the mix of the Canadian and American population and the influence of sunscreens.

  • Regarding puberty and adolescence, research is needed to evaluate the effect of various intakes of vitamin D on circulating concentrations of 25 (OH)D and 1,25(OH)2D during winter at a time when no vitamin D comes from sunlight exposure. During this time, the body adapts by increasing the renal metabolism of 25(OH)D to 1,25(OH)2D and the efficiency of intestinal calcium absorption, thereby satisfying the increased calcium requirement by the rapidly growing skeleton.

  • It is very difficult to determine the reference values for vitamin D in healthy young adults aged 18 through 30 and 31 through 50

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