There aren’t many vitamins out there that come with more hype than vitamin D. And much of it is for good reason: it can play a big role in overall health.
But it can also be dangerous if you’re taking too much of it. Just ask a British man who was recently hospitalized for overdosing on it.
Vitamin D supplements may offer a host of benefits. It’s possible they can promote stronger immunity, bones, and a better mood in people who are deficient or can’t get enough of it naturally.
However, there is a growing global trend of hypervitaminosis D, a clinical condition characterized by high blood levels of vitamin D3. The symptoms are largely caused by too much calcium in the blood (vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium) and include:
- Abdominal pain
- Peptic ulcers
- High blood pressure
- Abnormal heart rhythms
- Kidney abnormalities and kidney failure
A recent case study published in BMJ Case Reports highlighted a middle-aged man that was hospitalized after reporting recurrent vomiting, leg cramps, nausea, abdominal pain, ear ringing, dry mouth, diarrhea, and weight loss.
His symptoms had been happening for three months and started after he began a vitamin regimen recommended by a nutritional therapist. The protocol included more than 20 over-the-counter supplements and 50,000 mg daily of vitamin D; the recommended daily requirement for adults is around 600 mg per day.
Blood tests revealed very high levels of calcium, and his vitamin D was about seven times above what is required for sufficiency. He was treated in hospital for eight days and then continued to experience symptoms for a few weeks afterward, as it takes time for vitamin D levels to turn over (it is stored in fat cells).
You can likely avoid a similar fate by electing to use vitamin D supplements appropriately or making sure you’re getting it from natural sources. Most people will get enough from sun exposure or eating fortified foods.
If you supplement, do not exceed 10,000 IU per day (which is generally safe). However, even this amount is typically reserved for people with extreme deficiency. 600 mg should be all you need.