Vitamin D: 26 ng/mL

What does a vitamin D level of 26 mean? Are there any symptoms associated with this vitamin D level?

A vitamin D level of 26 ng/mL is considered low. Low levels of vitamin D can occur from inadequate intake from the diet, limited exposure to sunlight, poor kidney function, or impaired vitamin D absorption. 

Low vitamin D can negatively affect your health and put you at increased risk for, and severity of COVID-19, diabetes, and cancer. Having low levels of vitamin D may also increase your risk for certain autoimmune and neurodegenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s.  

Factors that could contribute to a vitamin D level of 26

  • Diet low in vitamin D

  • Older age (partly due to a decline in the skin’s ability to synthesize vitamin D with age)

  • Dark complexion

  • Living in cold or northern climates (people who live above 37°N latitude cannot synthesize vitamin D year-round)

  • Limited sun exposure (such as those who spend the majority of their time indoors or are covered when outside)

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding

  • Cystic fibrosis, Crohn's, celiac, kidney, and liver disease, or other conditions that interfere with vitamin D absorption or synthesis 

  • Obesity (greater amounts of subcutaneous fat sequester more of the vitamin)

  • Gastric bypass surgery (from reduced absorption)

What to do if your vitamin D level is 26?

To improve vitamin D levels:

  • Increase your consumption of vitamin D-rich foods like salmon, herring, canned tuna, eggs (with the yolk), and fortified foods like milk, yogurt, and breakfast cereals

  • Get 10–30 minutes of unprotected midday sunlight most days

  • Take a vitamin D supplement. How much you should take depends on your level of deficiency. For a level of 26, you will likely need to take 5,000 IU daily for several months to significantly improve your vitamin D status. 

  • If levels do not improve after 3 months, review your supplements with an expert or talk to your doctor. 

Supplements used to improve vitamin D results

If you are vitamin D deficient, a daily supplement is typically needed to get levels into the optimal range (40-80 ng/mL) over time. 

For levels of 26 ng/mL, talk to your primary healthcare provider. Daily supplementation of vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) should be considered to achieve adequate body stores of vitamin D.


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