Cholecalciferol is Vitamin D3, which is naturally produced in the body after exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency seems to be on the rise worldwide, especially in countries where sunlight is scarce, and people may therefore require supplementation. The ideal cholecalciferol dose will depend on how severe the deficiency is.
Vitamin D, including cholecalciferol, plays a number of roles in the body, the most vital being to maintain calcium and phosphorus levels, two elements essential for the building of bone, a process which continues throughout life. If there is a deficiency of vitamin D, bone is not formed properly and may result in conditions such as rickets in children and osteoporosis. It is for this reason that a sufficient cholecalciferol dose is essential. Vitamin D may be used for both prophylaxis and treatment of osteoporosis.
Sufficient cholecalciferol levels may be obtained by eating foods fortified with Vitamin D3, cautiously increasing exposure to the sun - as little as ten minutes a day may be sufficient - or getting a cholecalciferol dose from a tablet, often combined with calcium or in a multivitamin. Dietary sources of vitamin D include egg yolks, fish such as tuna and mackerel, cheese and cod liver oil. Vitamin D supplementation may be confusing as a number of different forms of it are available commercially, cholecalciferol being just one of them. It is best to discuss the various options with a doctor or pharmacist.
The sufficient cholecalciferol dose will be established by the treating doctor according to the indication. Vitamin D is often included in multivitamin preparations at the recommended daily Adequate Intake (AI) levels. In adult males and females under 50-years old, 5 micrograms (200 IU or International Units) daily is recommended. Vitamin D requirements increase with age and people between 50- and 70-years old require 10 micrograms daily (400 IU) and those over 70-years old require 15 micrograms daily (600 IU). These are basic supplemental doses and the doses for treatment of conditions such as rickets will differ significantly.
Vitamin D toxicity may occur so the recommended vitamin D or cholecalciferol dose should never be exceeded. Vitamin D toxicity may result in the calcium levels rising too high which, if severe, may result in damage to the kidneys. Some people may be at higher risk of developing toxicity, such as those with parathyroidism or underlying kidney disease. For this reason it is vital to discuss any chronic or acute conditions with the doctor or pharmacist before starting vitamin D supplementation.