Italian Medicines Agency Agenzia Italiana del Farmaco

FAQ - Vitamin D medicines

FAQ - Vitamin D medicines

November 2019

Questions and Answers on Vitamin D Medicines

What is Vitamin D?

It is a hormone produced in the skin following sun exposure. Small quantities can also be taken through diet (cod liver oil, salmon, oily fish, egg yolk, milk and dairy products, pork, beef liver, etc.).

What is Vitamin D used for?

  • It regulates the intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphorus, promoting normal bone formation and mineralization.
  • It contributes to normal muscle contractility.
  • It acts on the immune system.

How to ensure a sufficient intake of vitamin D?

Regular sun exposure is the most natural and effective way. Diet cannot be considered an adequate source because its presence in food is rather limited.

When should the level of vitamin D in the body be measured?

The dosage should be carried out only in the presence of specific risk conditions, following a medical recommendation.

How is the vitamin D level measured?

The level of vitamin D is measured through a blood test (dosage in the form of 25 (OH) D).

What are the desirable values?

The “desirable values” are between 20 and 40 ng/mL.

When is pharmacological supplementation of vitamin D indicated regardless of the dosage?

  • Elderly guests in health care residences
  • Pregnant or lactating women
  • People with osteoporosis or osteopathies for which remineralizing therapy is not indicated

When is the pharmacological integration of vitamin D indicated following the dosage?

  • Vitamin D levels below 20 ng/mL and symptoms of hypovitaminosis (asthenia, myalgia, widespread or localized pain, frequent unjustified falls)
  • Hyperparathyroidism secondary to hypovitaminosis D
  • Osteoporosis or osteopathies to correct hypovitaminosis before the start of remineralizing therapy
  • Long-term therapy with drugs interfering with the metabolism of vitamin D (antiepileptics, glucocorticoids, antiretrovirals, antifungals, etc.)
  • Diseases which may cause malabsorption in adults (cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, Crohn's disease, bariatric surgery, etc.)

In which cases is the administration of vitamin D drugs ineffective or inappropriate?

Administration of vitamin D is ineffective and inappropriate for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular prevention and for cancer prevention.

Can vitamin D medicines be bought without a medical prescription?

No, they need a medical prescription.

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