Vitamin D status can be assessed by measuring concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D). Sunlight is the most important source of vitamin D and stimulates the production of vitamin D3 in the skin during the summer, depending on age, skin pigmentation, clothing style, and sunscreen use.

Seasonal variation in serum 25(OH)D is between 10 and 20 nmol/L in adults and almost absent in nursing home residents. Sunscreen use decreases, but does not abolish, vitamin D production in the skin. Clothing style has a large influence on vitamin D production. Furthermore, vitamin D status can be improved by ingestion of fatty fish and the fortification of milk or orange juice. A high dietary calcium intake has a vitamin D-sparing effect, because it increases the half-life of 25(OH)D.

A combination of sunlight exposure, nutrition, food fortification, and supplements is desirable to obtain sufficient vitamin D status in the population of most countries throughout the year.