Sounds like 'Co-lee-cal-SIF-er-ol'

Easy-to-read medicine information about colecalciferol – what is it, how to take colecalciferol safely and possible side effects. Colecalciferol is also know as vitamin D3.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Vitamin D supplement
  • Cal-D-Forte®
  • Vitamin D3
  • Cholecalciferol
  • Also in medicines such as Fosamax Plus®

What is colecalciferol?

  • Colecalciferol works by helping the body absorb more calcium from your diet, for strong bones.
  • Vitamin D is produced naturally in the body, when your skin is exposed to sunlight. Most people get enough vitamin D this way.  A small amount of vitamin D comes from foods such as oily fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna), eggs, margarine and some milk.
  • Sometimes it is difficult to get enough vitamin D (ie, if you spend most of your time inside) and your doctor may prescribe vitamin D tablets. 
  • Everybody needs vitamin D to maintain healthy bones and muscles. A mild lack of vitamin D may not cause symptoms, but it can cause general aches and pains. It can also result in an increased risk of osteoporosis (weak, brittle bones).
  • If you are at risk of low vitamin D levels your doctor may prescribe colecalciferol tablets.


  • The usual dose of colecalciferol is 1 tablet ONCE A MONTH.
  • Some patients who have very low vitamin D may need higher doses.

How to take colecalciferol

  • If you have been advised to take colecalciferol ONCE A MONTH, choose a date that is easy for you to remember and mark it on the calendar. For example, the 1st day of each month, or the last day of each month.
  • Colecalciferol can be taken with or without food.
  • If you forget to take your tablet, take it as soon as you remember, even if it is a few days later.
  • But, if it is nearly the day for your next tablet, just take the next tablet on the right day. Do not double the amount of tablets.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, colecalciferol can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often unwanted effects improve as your body gets used to the new medicine.

Peanut and soya allergy

Colecalciferol soft gelatin capsules contains soya oil. Some medicines containing soya oil might cause an allergic reaction in patients with a peanut or soya allergy. If you have a peanut or soya allergy, ensure that your doctor or pharmacist are aware of this and ask them to check your medicines. Read more on Medsafe safety information.

Other possible side effects

Side effects What should I do?
  • Signs of too much vitamin D such as tummy pain, headache, confusion, dry mouth, irregular heartbeat, muscle pain, increased thirst
  • Sign of an allergic reaction such
    • an itchy sensation inside the mouth, throat or ears
    • a raised itchy red rash (urticaria, or "hives")
    • swelling of the face, around the eyes, lips, tongue and roof of the mouth (angioedema)
    • vomiting


  • Some health supplements, multivitamin products and calcium supplements may contain vitamin D, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting colecalciferol or before starting any new medicines.

Learn more

New Zealand Formulary Patient Information: Colecalciferol

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Kate Lloyd Last reviewed: 11 Aug 2014