Canada’s food guide
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Applying Canada's Dietary Guidelines

Advice on vitamin and mineral supplementation

When eating a variety of nutritious foods, vitamin and mineral supplements are not generally required. However, vitamin and mineral supplementation is recommended for certain life stages.

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Multivitamin with folic acid for those who could become pregnant

All adults and adolescents who could become pregnant should be advised to take a daily multivitamin with 400 mcg (0.4 mg) of folic acid.

This recommendation is to decrease the risk of having a pregnancy affected by neural tube defects (NTDs). NTDs occur when the neural tube in the fetus fails to close properly during the third and fourth week of pregnancy, often before most individuals know they are pregnant.

Some individuals at higher risk of having a pregnancy affected by NTDs may need more than 400 mcg (0.4 mg) of folic acid daily. These individuals should be assessed early and advised on nutritious foods and supplement recommendations to help prepare for a healthy pregnancy.

Nutrition considerations during pregnancy and to support breastfeeding include additional information about vitamin and mineral supplementation.

Daily dietary source of vitamin D

A daily dietary source of vitamin D is recommended for people between 2 and 50 years of age. This means incorporating foods that contain vitamin D into the daily diet or taking a daily supplement containing vitamin D.

Foods recommended by Canada’s Dietary Guidelines that contain vitamin D include:

  • eggs (yolk)
  • soft margarine
  • fatty fish, such as
    • salmon
    • arctic char
    • rainbow trout
  • unsweetened lower fat milk
  • unsweetened fortified plant-based beverages

If foods that contain vitamin D are not consumed on a daily basis, a supplement containing 400 IU (10 mcg) of vitamin D is appropriate.

Adults 51 years of age and older should be advised to take a daily supplement of 400 IU (10 mcg) of vitamin D. This is recommended to support vitamin D status (blood levels) during a life stage where the likelihood of bone loss is increasing.

Adults 51 years of age and older can continue to be encouraged to consume foods that contain vitamin D as part of a healthy pattern of eating.

Vitamin D is also made by the skin upon exposure to the sun; however, many factors affect the amount of vitamin D the body makes from sunlight. Examples of these include:

  • smog
  • season
  • time of day
  • cloud cover
  • sunscreen use
  • limited outdoor time
  • amount of skin exposed to sunlight
  • age
    • less vitamin D is made as people get older
  • amount of melanin (natural pigmentation that makes the skin darker)
    • it takes longer for people with more melanin to make vitamin D from the sun’s ultraviolet rays

These factors can apply to many people living in Canada. This is why a daily dietary source of vitamin D is recommended.

Resources to use with consumers