Vitamin D supplements: The pharmacists’ perspective

Ashwaq A. Awadh, Daniel E. Hilleman, Emily Knezevich, Mark A. Malesker, John C. Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this narrative review was to provide guidance for pharmacists concerning vitamin D supplementation. Methods: Relevant studies were identified in a search of MEDLINE/PubMed, EBSCOhost, and Google Scholar from January 1966 to September 2020 using the search terms vitamin D, vitamin D2, vitamin D3, calcitriol, and vitamin D deficiency. Abstracts were reviewed for relevance and, if relevant, full-text articles were retrieved and reviewed. References were checked, and citation searches using identified studies were conducted. The literature search included English-language studies involving administration of vitamin D monotherapy compared with placebo. Results: Serum 25–hydroxyvitamin D levels of less than 12 ng/mL indicate a vitamin D deficiency. The Institute of Medicine recommends a daily intake of 600 IU of vitamin D in individuals aged up to 70 years and 800 IU in those aged above 70 years. Vitamin D is labeled for rickets, osetomalacia, hypophosphatemia (familial or secondary), renal osteodystrophy, and corticosteroid-induced osteoporosis. When used for these indications, vitamin D should be prescribed with appropriate monitoring by a qualified health care practitioner. There is evidence for vitamin D supplementation in individuals aged 75 years or older and in those with problems associated with mobility, gait, or balance. There is insufficient evidence to support vitamin D supplementation in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, cancer, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbations, new-onset type 2 diabetes, infectious lung diseases, cognitive dysfunction, Alzheimer disease, and depression, or in prenatal use. Conclusion: Pharmacists can provide evidence-based recommendations concerning the indications, dosing, monitoring, and adverse effects of vitamin D supplements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e191-e201
JournalJournal of the American Pharmacists Association
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pharmacology (nursing)
  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmacology


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