Medically reviewed on September 10, 2018
(kole e kal SI fer ole)
Excipient information presented when available (limited, particularly for generics); consult specific product labeling. [DSC] = Discontinued product
D3-50: 50,000 units [dairy free, egg free, fish derivative free, gluten free, kosher certified, no artificial color(s), nut free, soy free, sugar free, wheat free, yeast free]
Decara: 10,000 units [contains fd&c yellow #10 aluminum lake, fd&c yellow #6 aluminum lake, gelatin (bovine)]
Decara: 25,000 units [contains soybean oil]
Decara: 50,000 units [contains fd&c yellow #10 (quinoline yellow), fd&c yellow #6 (sunset yellow), soybean oil]
Dialyvite Vitamin D 5000: 5000 units
Pronutrients Vitamin D3: 1000 units [contains soybean oil]
Generic: 10,000 units, 50,000 units
Capsule, Oral [preservative free]:
D-3-5: 5000 units [dairy free, dye free, egg free, gluten free, no artificial color(s), nut free, soy free, sugar free, wheat free, yeast free]
D3-50: 50,000 units [dairy free, egg free, fish derivative free, gluten free, kosher certified, no artificial color(s), nut free, soy free, sugar free, wheat free, yeast free]
Generic: 1000 units, 2000 units, 5000 units, 10,000 units
Aqueous Vitamin D: 400 units/mL (50 mL) [gluten free, lactose free, sugar free; contains methylparaben, polysorbate 80]
Bio-D-Mulsion: 400 units/0.03 mL (30 mL [DSC]) [contains sesame oil]
Bio-D-Mulsion Forte: 2000 units/0.03 mL (30 mL [DSC]) [contains sesame oil]
BProtected Pedia D-Vite: 400 units/mL (50 mL) [alcohol free, sugar free; contains polysorbate 80, propylene glycol, sodium benzoate; cherry flavor]
D-Vi-Sol: 400 units/mL (50 mL) [gluten free, lactose free, sugar free; contains polysorbate 80]
D-Vita: 400 units/mL (50 mL [DSC]) [alcohol free, gluten free, lactose free, sugar free; contains polysorbate 80, propylene glycol, sodium benzoate; fruit flavor]
D3 Vitamin: 400 units/mL (50 mL) [contains polysorbate 80, sodium benzoate]
Generic: 400 units/mL (50 mL, 52.5 mL)
Liquid, Oral [preservative free]:
Generic: 5000 units/mL (52.5 mL)
Delta D3: 400 units [gelatin free, gluten free, lactose free, no artificial color(s), no artificial flavor(s), starch free, sugar free, yeast free]
Dialyvite Vitamin D3 Max: 50,000 units [scored]
Vitamin D3 Super Strength: 2000 units [gluten free]
Vitamin D3 Ultra Potency: 50,000 units
Generic: 400 units, 1000 units, 2000 units, 3000 units, 5000 units
Tablet, Oral [preservative free]:
Generic: 400 units, 1000 units, 2000 units, 5000 units
Tablet Chewable, Oral:
Generic: 400 units
Brand Names: U.S.
- Aqueous Vitamin D [OTC]
- Bio-D-Mulsion Forte [OTC] [DSC]
- Bio-D-Mulsion [OTC] [DSC]
- BProtected Pedia D-Vite [OTC]
- D-3-5 [OTC]
- D-Vi-Sol [OTC]
- D-Vita [OTC] [DSC]
- D3 Vitamin [OTC]
- D3-50 [OTC]
- Decara [OTC]
- Delta D3 [OTC]
- Dialyvite Vitamin D 5000 [OTC]
- Dialyvite Vitamin D3 Max [OTC]
- Pronutrients Vitamin D3 [OTC]
- Vitamin D3 Super Strength [OTC]
- Vitamin D3 Ultra Potency [OTC]
- Vitamin D Analog
Cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) is a provitamin. The active metabolite, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (calcitriol), stimulates calcium and phosphate absorption from the small intestine, promotes secretion of calcium from bone to blood; promotes renal tubule phosphate resorption (IOM 2011)
Inactive until hydroxylated hepatically to 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D; calcifediol] then renally to the active metabolite 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (calcitriol) (IOM 2011)
Feces (IOM 2011)
Circulating: 25(OH)D: 2 to 3 weeks; 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D: ~4 hours (Holick 2011)
Use: Labeled Indications
Dietary supplement: As a vitamin D dietary supplement
Vitamin D deficiency: Prevention and treatment of vitamin D deficiency
Off Label Uses
Based on the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) Clinician’s Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis, supplemental cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) may be used to prevent osteoporosis.
OTC labeling: Replesta products only: When used for self-medication, do not use if you have hypercalcemia, primary hyperparathyroidism, sarcoidosis, hypervitaminosis D, Williams syndrome, or are pregnant.
Documentation of allergenic cross-reactivity for vitamin D is limited. However, because of similarities in chemical structure and/or pharmacologic actions, the possibility of cross-sensitivity cannot be ruled out with certainty.
Vitamin D deficiency prevention: Oral: 1,500 to 2,000 units daily to maintain serum 25(OH)D levels >30 ng/mL (Holick 2011)
Vitamin D deficiency treatment: Oral: 6,000 units daily or 50,000 units once weekly for 8 weeks to achieve serum 25(OH)D level >30 ng/mL, followed by maintenance dose of 1,500 to 2,000 units daily (Holick 2011).
Special populations (obese patients, patients on medications known to affect vitamin D metabolism, patients with malabsorption syndromes): 6,000 to 10,000 units daily to achieve a 25(OH)D level >30 ng/mL; then maintenance dose of 3,000 to 6,000 units daily (Holick 2011).
Osteoporosis prevention (off-label): Adults ≥50 years: Oral: 800 to 1,000 units/day (NOF guidelines 2014)
≤70 years: Refer to adult dosing.
Prevention of vitamin D deficiency: (Greer 2000; Wagner 2008): Oral:
Breast-fed infants (fully or partially): 400 units/day beginning in the first few days of life. Continue supplementation until infant is weaned to ≥1,000 mL/day or 1 quart/day of vitamin D-fortified formula or whole milk (whole milk should not be used until after 12 months of age)
Formula-fed infants ingesting <1,000 mL of vitamin D-fortified formula: 400 units/day
Children ingesting <1,000 mL of vitamin D-fortified milk: 400 units/day
Children with increased risk of vitamin D deficiency (chronic fat malabsorption, maintained on chronic antiseizure medications): Higher doses may be required; use laboratory testing 25(OH)D, PTH, bone mineral status to evaluate
Adolescents without adequate intake: 400 units/day
Treatment of vitamin D deficiency: Oral: Note: In addition to calcium and phosphorus supplementation (Holick 2011; Golden 2014):
Infants: 2,000 units daily or 50,000 units once weekly for 6 weeks to achieve a serum 25(OH)D level >20 ng/mL; followed by a maintenance dose of 400 to 1,000 units daily. Note: For patients at high risk of fractures a serum 25(OH)D level >30 ng/mL has been suggested (Golden 2014); some organizations suggest a serum 25(OH)D level >30 ng/mL should be used for all patients (Holick 2011).
Children and Adolescents: 2,000 units daily or 50,000 units once weekly for 6 to 8 weeks to achieve serum 25(OH)D level >20 ng/mL; followed by a maintenance dose of 600 to 1,000 units daily. Note: For patients at high risk of fractures a serum 25(OH)D level >30 ng/mL has been suggested (Golden 2014); some organizations suggest a serum 25(OH)D level >30 ng/mL should be used for all patients (Holick 2011).
Children with increased risk of vitamin D deficiency (chronic fat malabsorption, maintained on chronic antiseizure medications, glucocorticoids, HIV medications and antifungals such as ketoconazole, obesity): Higher doses (2 to 3 times higher) may be required; doses of at least 6,000 to 10,000 units daily have been suggested (Holick 2011).
Note: If poor compliance, single high-dose administration (100,000 to 600,000 units over 1 to 5 days) followed by maintenance dosing; intermittently repeating (usually every 3 months) may be needed if poor compliance continues with maintenance dosing (Misra 2008).
Treatment of vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency associated with CKD (stages 2 to 5, 5D); serum 25 hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] level ≤30 ng/mL (KDOQI Guidelines 2009): Oral: Infants, Children, and Adolescents:
Serum 25(OH)D level 16 to 30 ng/mL: 2,000 units/day for 3 months or 50,000 units every month for 3 months
Serum 25(OH)D level 5 to 15 ng/mL: 4,000 units/day for 12 weeks or 50,000 units every other week for 12 weeks
Serum 25(OH)D level <5 ng/mL: 8,000 units/day for 4 weeks then 4,000 units/day for 2 months for total therapy of 3 months or 50,000 units/week for 4 weeks followed by 50,000 units 2 times/month for a total therapy of 3 months
Maintenance dose [once repletion accomplished; serum 25(OH)D level >30 ng/mL]: 200 to 1,000 units/day
Prevention and treatment of vitamin D Deficiency in cystic fibrosis: Oral:
CF guidelines (Tangricha [CF Foundation] 2012):
Recommended daily intake to maintain serum 25(OH)D level ≥30 ng/mL:
Infants: 400 to 500 units/day
Children ≤10 years: 800 to 1,000 units/day
Children >10 years and Adolescents: 800 to 2,000 units/day
Dosing adjustment for serum 25(OH)D level between 20 to 30 ng/mL and patient adherence established (Step 1 increase):
Infants: 800 to 1,000 units/day
Children ≤10 years: 1,600 to 3,000 units/day
Children >10 years and Adolescents: 1,600 to 6,000 units/day
Dosing adjustment for serum 25(OH)D level <20 ng/mL or persistently between 20 to 30 ng/mL and patient adherence established (Step 2):
Infants: Increase up to a maximum of 2,000 units/day
Children ≤10 years: Increase to a maximum of 4,000 units/day
Children >10 years and Adolescents: Increase to a maximum of 10,000 units/day
Alternate dosing (Hall 2010):
Initial dose: Serum 25(OH)D level ≤30 ng/mL
Infants: 8,000 units/week
Children and Adolescents: 800 units/day
Medium-dose regimen: Serum 25(OH)D level remains ≤30 ng/mL and patient compliance established
Infants and Children <5 years: 12,000 units/week for 12 weeks
Children ≥5 years and Adolescents: 50,000 units/week for 12 weeks
High-dose regimen: Repeat 25(OH)D level remains ≤30 ng/mL and patient compliance established
Infants and Children <5 years: 12,000 units twice weekly for 12 weeks
Children ≥5 years and Adolescents: 50,000 units twice weekly for 12 weeks
Dosing: Renal Impairment
There are no dosage adjustments provided in the manufacturer’s labeling
Dosing: Hepatic Impairment
There are no dosage adjustments provided in the manufacturer’s labeling.
Wafers: Chew or crush before swallowing; do not swallow wafer whole; administer with the largest meal of the day.
Infant drops: Administer with syringe directly into mouth (tip against the inside of cheek) or mix with formula, juice, cereal, or other food and use within 1 hour. Liquid vitamin D preparations have the potential for dosing errors when administered to infants. The FDA recommends using a calibrated dropper that delivers no more than 400 units per dose for products intended for infants.
Vitamin D is found in egg yolks, fatty fish, fortified milk, fortified cereal, and infant formulas; it is also produced by exposure to sunlight (IOM, 2011).
Dietary Reference Intake for Vitamin D (IOM 2011):
0 to 12 months: Adequate intake: 400 units/day
1 to 70 years: RDA: 600 units/day
>70 years: RDA: 800 units/day
Pregnancy/Lactating: RDA: 600 units/day
Store at 15°C to 30°C (59°F to 86°F); do not freeze. Protect from light.
Aluminum Hydroxide: Vitamin D Analogs may increase the serum concentration of Aluminum Hydroxide. Specifically, the absorption of aluminum may be increased, leading to increased serum aluminum concentrations. Avoid combination
Bile Acid Sequestrants: May decrease the serum concentration of Vitamin D Analogs. More specifically, bile acid sequestrants may impair absorption of Vitamin D Analogs. Management: Avoid concomitant administration of vitamin D analogs and bile acid sequestrants (eg, cholestyramine). Separate administration of these agents by several hours to minimize the potential risk of interaction. Monitor plasma calcium concentrations. Consider therapy modification
Calcium Salts: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Vitamin D Analogs. Monitor therapy
Cardiac Glycosides: Vitamin D Analogs may enhance the arrhythmogenic effect of Cardiac Glycosides. Monitor therapy
Danazol: May enhance the hypercalcemic effect of Vitamin D Analogs. Monitor therapy
Mineral Oil: May decrease the serum concentration of Vitamin D Analogs. More specifically, mineral oil may interfere with the absorption of Vitamin D Analogs. Management: Avoid concomitant, oral administration of mineral oil and vitamin D analogs. Consider separating the administration of these agents by several hours to minimize the risk of interaction. Monitor plasma calcium concentrations. Consider therapy modification
Multivitamins/Fluoride (with ADE): May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Vitamin D Analogs. Avoid combination
Multivitamins/Minerals (with ADEK, Folate, Iron): May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of Vitamin D Analogs. Avoid combination
Orlistat: May decrease the serum concentration of Vitamin D Analogs. More specifically, orlistat may impair absorption of Vitamin D Analogs. Management: Monitor clinical response (including serum calcium) to oral vitamin D analogs closely if used with orlistat. If this combination must be used, consider giving the vitamin D analog at least 2 hrs before or after orlistat. Consider therapy modification
Sucralfate: Vitamin D Analogs may increase the serum concentration of Sucralfate. Specifically, the absorption of aluminum from sucralfate may be increased, leading to an increase in the serum aluminum concentration. Avoid combination
Thiazide and Thiazide-Like Diuretics: May enhance the hypercalcemic effect of Vitamin D Analogs. Monitor therapy
Vitamin D Analogs: May enhance the adverse/toxic effect of other Vitamin D Analogs. Avoid combination
No adverse reactions listed in the manufacturer's labeling.
Concerns related to adverse effects:
• Vitamin D toxicity: May occur with excessive doses; symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, constipation, dehydration, fatigue, irritability, confusion, weakness and/or weight loss. Effects of vitamin D can last ≥2 months after therapy is discontinued.
Disease related concerns:
• Hepatic impairment: May be at greater risk of vitamin D toxicity.
• Renal impairment: May be at greater risk of vitamin D toxicity.
Concurrent drug therapy issues:
• Drug-drug interactions: Potentially significant interactions may exist, requiring dose or frequency adjustment, additional monitoring, and/or selection of alternative therapy. Consult drug interactions database for more detailed information.
Dosage form specific issues:
• Benzyl alcohol and derivatives: Some dosage forms may contain sodium benzoate/benzoic acid; benzoic acid (benzoate) is a metabolite of benzyl alcohol; large amounts of benzyl alcohol (≥99 mg/kg/day) have been associated with a potentially fatal toxicity (“gasping syndrome”) in neonates; the “gasping syndrome” consists of metabolic acidosis, respiratory distress, gasping respirations, CNS dysfunction (including convulsions, intracranial hemorrhage), hypotension and cardiovascular collapse (AAP 1997; CDC 1982); some data suggests that benzoate displaces bilirubin from protein binding sites (Ahlfors 2001); avoid or use dosage forms containing benzyl alcohol derivative with caution in neonates. See manufacturer’s labeling.
• Polysorbate 80: Some dosage forms may contain polysorbate 80 (also known as Tweens). Hypersensitivity reactions, usually a delayed reaction, have been reported following exposure to pharmaceutical products containing polysorbate 80 in certain individuals (Isaksson 2002; Lucente 2000; Shelley 1995). Thrombocytopenia, ascites, pulmonary deterioration, and renal and hepatic failure have been reported in premature neonates after receiving parenteral products containing polysorbate 80 (Alade 1986; CDC 1984). See manufacturer’s labeling.
• Propylene glycol: Some dosage forms may contain propylene glycol; large amounts are potentially toxic and have been associated hyperosmolality, lactic acidosis, seizures and respiratory depression; use caution (AAP 1997; Zar 2007). See manufacturer’s labeling.
• Obesity: Adults with a BMI >30 kg/m2 are at high risk for vitamin D deficiency due to storage of vitamin D in adipose tissue. Doses higher than the RDA may be required, but must be carefully monitored to avoid toxicity (Holick 2011).
Signs and symptoms of vitamin D intoxication.
Serum 25(OH)D should be monitored in patients at risk for vitamin D deficiency; Serum 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D may be used in conditions such as acquired or inherited vitamin D disorders (eg, chronic kidney disease, vitamin D resistant rickets) or phosphate metabolism (Holick 2011).
When treating vitamin D deficiency in children, monitor serum calcium, phosphorus and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) one month after starting therapy; serum calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, ALP, 25(OH)D, and PTH as well as x-ray (may also consider urine calcium/creatinine ratio) after 3 months; 25(OH)D yearly (Misra 2008).
Children at increased risk of vitamin D deficiency (chronic fat malabsorption, chronic antiseizure medication use) require serum 25(OH)D, PTH, and bone mineral status to evaluate. If vitamin D supplement required, then 25(OH)D levels should be repeated at 3-month intervals until normal. PTH and bone mineral status should be monitored every 6 months until normal. (Wagner 2008).
Vitamin D deficiency/insufficiency in patients with CKD stages 3 to 4: Measure serum 25(OH)D levels after 3 months of treatment in children or after 6 months in adults. Measure corrected total calcium and phosphorous after 1 month and then at least every 3 months in children and at least every 3 months in adults. Discontinue ergocalciferol (or any vitamin D supplements) if the corrected total serum calcium level is >10.2 mg/dL (K/DOQI 2003; K/DOQI 2005).
Serum 25(OH)D in patients on long term anticonvulsant medications, antifungals, cholestyramine, glucocorticoids, or medications to treat HIV; the catabolism of the metabolite 25(OH)D may be increased (Holick 2011).
The cholecalciferol metabolite, 25(OH)D, crosses the placenta; maternal serum concentrations correlate with fetal concentrations at birth (Misra 2008; Wagner 2008).
Adequate maternal vitamin D is required for fetal growth and development (Misra 2008). Vitamin D deficiency in a pregnant woman may lead to a vitamin D deficiency in the neonate (Misra 2008; Wagner 2008). Serum 25(OH)D concentrations should be measured in pregnant women considered to be at increased risk of deficiency (ACOG 2011). The amount of vitamin D contained in prenatal vitamins may not be adequate to treat a deficiency during pregnancy; although larger doses may be needed, current guidelines recommend a total of 1,000 to 2,000 units/day until more safety data is available (ACOG 2011; Holick 2011). In women not at risk for deficiency, doses larger than the RDA should be avoided during pregnancy (ACOG 2011; IOM 2011).
• Discuss specific use of drug and side effects with patient as it relates to treatment. (HCAHPS: During this hospital stay, were you given any medicine that you had not taken before? Before giving you any new medicine, how often did hospital staff tell you what the medicine was for? How often did hospital staff describe possible side effects in a way you could understand?)
• Have patient report immediately to prescriber signs of high calcium (weakness, confusion, fatigue, headache, nausea and vomiting, constipation, or bone pain (HCAHPS).
• Educate patient about signs of a significant reaction (eg, wheezing; chest tightness; fever; itching; bad cough; blue skin color; seizures; or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat). Note: This is not a comprehensive list of all side effects. Patient should consult prescriber for additional questions.
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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
More about cholecalciferol
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- During Pregnancy
- Dosage Information
- Drug Interactions
- Support Group
- En Español
- 7 Reviews
- Drug class: vitamins