Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3))

Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3))

Vitamin D3, also known as cholecalciferol, is a supplement that helps your body absorb calcium.

It’s typically used to treat people who have a vitamin D deficiency or related disorder, such as rickets or osteomalacia.

Some individuals who might need extra vitamin D include:

  • Older adults
  • Breastfed babies
  • People with darker skin
  • Obese individuals (or those who’ve had gastric bypass surgery)
  • People with conditions such as cystic fibrosis, Crohn’s disease, or liver disease

Vitamin D3 may be used with different supplements or medicines to treat or prevent other conditions.

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What is Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3)) used for?

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What is the most important information I should know about Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3))?

You should not use cholecalciferol if you have had an allergic reaction to vitamin D, or if you have:

  • high levels of vitamin D in your body (hypervitaminosis D);
  • high levels of calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia); or
  • any condition that makes it hard for your body to absorb nutrients from food (malabsorption).

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • heart disease;
  • kidney disease; or
  • an electrolyte imbalance.

Certain forms of cholecalciferol may contain ingredients you should know about, such as peanut or soybean oil, sugar, aspartame (phenylalanine), or certain food dyes. Ask a doctor before using cholecalciferol if you have allergies, diabetes, or phenylketonuria (PKU).

Too much vitamin D could harm an unborn baby or a nursing baby. Ask a doctor before using cholecalciferol if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Your dose needs may be different during pregnancy or while you are nursing.

Do not give cholecalciferol to a child without medical advice. Your child's dose will depend on age, weight, diet, and other factors.

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Side Effects

What are the side effects of Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3))?

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop taking cholecalciferol and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • chest pain, feeling short of breath;
  • growth problems (in a child taking cholecalciferol); or
  • early signs of vitamin D overdose--weakness, metallic taste in your mouth, weight loss, muscle or bone pain, constipation, nausea, and vomiting.

Less serious side effects may be more likely, and you may have none at all.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

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Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

Can I take Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3)) if I’m pregnant or breastfeeding?

Too much vitamin D could harm an unborn baby or a nursing baby. Ask a doctor before using cholecalciferol if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Your dose needs may be different during pregnancy or while you are nursing.

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What drugs and food should I avoid while taking Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3))?

Ask a doctor or pharmacist before taking any multivitamins, mineral supplements, or antacids while you are taking cholecalciferol.

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Dosage Guidelines & Tips

How to take Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3))?

Use Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3)) exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all the guides or instruction sheets. Use only the recommended dose of cholecalciferol.

It may be best to take cholecalciferol after a meal, but you may take it with or without food.

Measure liquid cholecalciferol carefully. Use the dosing syringe provided, or use a medicine dose-measuring device (not a kitchen spoon).

The chewable tablet must be chewed before you swallow it.

To take a disintegrating (Quick-Melt) tablet, place it on your tongue and do not swallow the tablet whole. Allow it to dissolve in your mouth without chewing. If desired, you may drink liquid to help swallow the dissolved tablet.

The cholecalciferol wafer is usually taken only once per week or once per month. Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully. The wafer must be chewed before you swallow it.

While using cholecalciferol, you will need frequent blood tests. You may also need x-rays.

Your doctor will determine how long to treat you with cholecalciferol.

Cholecalciferol may be only part of a complete program of treatment that also includes dietary changes and taking calcium and vitamin supplements. Follow your doctor's instructions very closely.

Learn about the foods you should eat to make sure you get enough calcium and vitamin D in your diet. Your cholecalciferol dose may need to be adjusted as you make changes to your diet.

Store at room temperature away from moisture, light, and heat.

What should I do if I missed a dose of Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3))?

Take cholecalciferol as soon as you can, but skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take two doses at one time.

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Overdose Signs

What happens if I overdose on Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3))?

Overdose symptoms may include nausea, loss of appetite, thirst, urinating more or less than usual, body aches, stiffness, confusion, or irregular heartbeats.

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on: Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3)),  call your doctor or the Poison Control center
(800) 222-1222
If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3)), call 911
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What to Expect

Taking a vitamin D supplement, such as cholecalciferol, can improve deficiencies within months. But these effects may take longer if you have a more severe deficiency or are obese.

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Additional Dosage Information

Your dosage of cholecalciferol will depend on your medical condition, your age, and other factors.

Most experts recommend that you shouldn’t take more than 4,000 IU of vitamin D a day. When your serum D3 is very low (less than 12 nanograms per milliliter), some may recommend a short course of once-weekly 50,000 IU of vitamin D2 or D3, followed by a usual dose of 600 to 800 IU daily.

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Secondary Uses

Vitamin D is used as a therapy for helping prevent or treat various other medical conditions, including:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
  • Psoriasis
  • Dementia or other cognitive disorders
Everyday Health


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A 2022 study found that low blood levels of vitamin D (under 25 nanomoles per liter) were linked with higher risks of dementia. People can boost vitamin D levels from diet, supplements, or sun expo...

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Vitamin D Levels, Supplements Not Linked to COVID Infection Risk

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Ed Susman
AUSTIN, Texas – Risk of COVID-19 infection didn't differ whether taking vitamin D supplements or having low levels of the vitamin, researchers reported here.

Among a cohort of 250 healthy healthcare workers, some of whom were taking high doses of vitamin D, 56 eventually tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 infection.

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Drugs A-Z provides drug information from Everyday Health and our partners, as well as ratings from our members, all in one place. Cerner Multum™ provides the data within some of the Overview, Uses, Warnings, Side Effects, Pregnancy, Interactions, Dosage, Overdose, and Images sections. The information within all other sections is proprietary to Everyday Health.