Unless you eat a lot of salmon, or put yourself at high risk for skin cancer, you will need Vitamin D Supplements. Most Multiple Vitamins have 400 IU of vitamin D. Many Calcium supplements have some Vitamin D as well, but not enough to meet your daily vitamin D needs and have an optimal vitamin D level. You will need to add up the total in your diet, multiple vitamin and Calcium supplement. Then you will need to add a Vitamin D Supplement to that to reach 2000 IU each day. If you have not been getting enough vitamin D for a long time, you probably have a Vitamin D Deficiency that can take a long time to correct at just 2000 IU a day.
Vitamin D supplements have markedly improved in the last 3 years. We now have D3 available in doses of 1000, 2000, and 5000 IU in many stores. Most individuals will need 1000 IU daily in addition to what they get in diet, multiple vitamins and Calcium Plus D.
Vitamin D3 or Cholecalciferol is preferred. D3 lasts 2-3 weeks in its activated form. Vitamin D2 or Ergocalciferol is from plants. D2 only lasts 2-3 days in its activated form. If you are taking 50,000 IU of D2 as a supplement, you must take it weekly. 50,000 IU of D3 can be taken monthly with the same effectiveness.
Unfortunately, most pharmacies carry only D2 in the prescription dose of 50,000 IU. A Compounding Pharmacy will make up prescription dose D3 for you. We obtain our prescription dose D3 from a wholesale pharmacy and dispense it to our patients at considerable savings.
Jay Ginther, MD
2008 / Revised March 2011