Vitamin D (as plant source ergocalciferol)

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that exists in two physiologically relevant forms; ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) 1, 2. Ergocalciferol is synthesized by plants and mushrooms, while cholecalciferol is synthesized by humans in the skin when it is exposed to ultraviolet-B (UVB) rays from sunlight 2. Some foods may also be fortified with vitamin D, such as milk and breakfast cereals 1, 3, 4. The current average daily intakes of vitamin D for Americans are well below suggested adequate intakes 3, and much of the world’s population is deficient in this important vitamin 5, 6, 7.

The main function of vitamin D is to regulate serum calcium and phosphorus concentration within the normal range by enhancing the efficiency of the small intestine to absorb these minerals 8, 9, 10. By influencing the absorption of calcium, vitamin D helps to form and maintain strong bones and teeth 1, 7, 8, 9, 11.

Vitamin D supplementation helps maintain physical performance in the elderly 7, 8, 12. Adequate vitamin D intake may also be important for maintaining immune health 13, 14, nervous system health 15, may help improve mood during the winter months 16, 17, and improve overall quality of life 18.

Vitamin D is generally well tolerated at recommended doses. Daily Values (DVs) were developed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to assist consumers with the level of many nutrients in a standard serving of food in relation to the consumers approximate needed requirement for it 1, 19, 20. The U.S. FDA has established a Reference Daily Intake (RDI) of 400 international units (IUs) of vitamin D for adults and children 4 or more years of age 1, 19, 20 (Note: In 2020 labels will use micrograms (mcg) instead of IUs for Vitamin D; i.e. 400 IUs is the same as 20 micograms (mcg or μg). 1, 19, 20. RDIs are a set of dietary references for essential vitamins and minerals that are considered amounts sufficient to meet the daily requirements of healthy individuals 1, 19, 20.

According to the Endocrine Society’s Vitamin D Clinical Practice Guidelines 1, 11, individuals who are at risk for vitamin D deficiencies should ask their physician to have their blood tested for the vitamin D metabolite [25(OH)D]. For individuals with blood 25(OH)D levels <75 nmol/L, higher amounts of vitamin D intake are suitable: children ages 1-18 may need 600-1,000 IU daily; adults > 18 years of age may need 1,500-2,000 IU (International Units) of vitamin D Daily 1, 11.

This ingredient can be found in the following products in United States:


  1. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). National Institutes of Health (NIH). Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin D. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Updated November 9, 2018.
  2. Japelt RB, Jakobsen J. Vitamin D in plants: a review of occurrence, analysis, and biosynthesis. Front Plant Sci 2013;4:136.
  3. USDA Dietary Guidelines. 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report. and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
  4. USDA Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. DGAC. Scientific Report of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee. Appendix E-3.3: Meeting Vitamin D Recommended Intakes in USDA Food Patterns.
  5. Mithal A, Wahl DA, Bonjour JP, Burckhardt P, Dawson-Hughes B, Eisman JA, El-Hajj Fuleihan G, Josse RG, Lips P, Morales-Torres J, IOF Committee of Scientific Advisors (CSA) Nutrition Working Group. [Abstract]. Global vitamin D status and determinants of hypovitaminosis D. Osteoporos Int 2009;20(11):1807-1820.
  6. Norman AW, Bouillon R. Vitamin D nutritional policy needs a vision for the future. [Abstract]. Exp Biol Med (Maywood) 2010;235(9):1034-45.
  7. Palacios C. The role of nutrients in bone health, from A to Z. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2006;46:621-8.
  8. Institute of Medicine (IOM). U. S. Committee to review Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) for Vitamin D and Calcium; Editors: Ross CA, Taylor CL, Yaktine AL, Del Valle HB. Washington, DC: National Academies Press (NAP)(US); 2011. Chapter 7. Overview of Vitamin D.
  9. Institute of Medicine (IOM)(US). Standing committee on the scientific evaluation of Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs). Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Chapter 7: Vitamin D. National Academies Press (NAP)(US), 1997.
  10. DeLuca HF. The vitamin D story: A collaborative effort of basic science and clinical medicine. FASEB J. 1988;2:224-236.
  11. Holick MF, Binkley NC, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Gordon CM, Hanley DA, Heaney RP, Murad MH, Weaver CM. Evaluation, treatment and prevention of vitamin D deficiency: an Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2011;96:1911-30.
  12. Annweiler C, Montero-Odasso M, Schott AM, Berrut G, Fantino B, Beauchet O. Review. Fall prevention and vitamin D in the elderly: an overview of the key role of the non-bone effects. J NeuroEng Rehabil 2010; 7:50.
  13. Maggini S, Wintergerst ES, Beveridge S, Hornig DH. Selected vitamins and trace elements support immune function by strengthening epithelial barriers and cellular and humoral immune responses. Br J Nutr 2007;98 Suppl1:S29-S35.
  14. Van Etten E, Mathieu C. Immunoregulation by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3: basic concepts. [Abstract]. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 2005;97:93-101.
  15. Wrzosek M, Lukaszkiewicz J, Wrzosek M, Jakubczyk A, Matsumoto H, Piatkiewicz P, Radziwon-Zaleska M, Wojnar M, Nowicka G. Review. Vitamin D and the central nervous system. Pharmacological Reports 2013;65:271-278.
  16. Bertone-Johnson E. Vitamin D and the occurrence of depression: Casual association or circumstantial evidence? Nutr Rev 2009;67(8):481-492.
  17. Lansdowne AT, Provost SC. Vitamin D3 enhances mood in healthy subjects during the winter. [Abstract]. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 1998;135:319-323.
  18. Norman AW, Bouillon R. Vitamin D nutritional policy needs a vision for the future. [Abstract]. Experimental Biology and Medicine 2010;235(9):1034-1045.
  19. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). National Institutes of Health (NIH). Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS). Strengthening knowledge and understanding of dietary supplement. Health information. Daily Values (DVs).
  20. Dietary Supplement Label Database. National Institutes of Health (NIH). A joint efffort of the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM).