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Heidi Vin Cohen

Side Effects of Taking Too Many Vitamin D Supplements

Simone KoelenVitamin pills/Unsplash

Vitamin D is essential for good health. Taking vitamin D has many health benefits like:

  • The growth, hardening, and restructuring of bones
  • Boosting your immune system
  • Improve muscle and nerve functions
  • Absorbing and regulating magnesium, phosphate, and calcium

Of course, our bodies can produce vitamin D from sun exposure. But, we rely on food to get this vitamin.

That’s why many adults resort to taking vitamin D supplements due to the shortage of foods that give this vitamin.

The benefits of supplementing vitamin D are obvious. Still, you need to seek counsel from your physician to know your supplementation protocol.

Doctors and the U.S. Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), recommend consuming a dose of 600 to 800 international units (IU) per day.

If your blood levels of vitamin D rise to 1000 UI per day, you may experience adverse side effects that will impact your health.

Read on to find out more.

Factors that can affect your vitamin D levels

The levels of vitamin D in people may vary due to several factors.

Your skin color. White-skinned people tend to have higher levels of vitamin D than dark-skinned people. African Americans have half as much of these vitamins in their blood in contrast to white folks.

Your age. As we age, our skin’s ability to produce vitamin D reduces. For example, when you clock 65 and above, your skin has a fourth of vitamins D of what you used to make while in your 20s.
Grandad and daughter taking a walk in the sunJaneSabeth/Unsplash

Your diet. Few foods have vitamin D. In the 1930s, rickets was rampant in the United States. As a result, the government initiated a vitamin D defense program to fight rickets. Rickets is a bone-weakening disease caused by vitamin D deficiency. So, your diet determines the levels of vitamin D in your body.

Where you stay. People staying in the northern states are at a greater risk for a vitamin D deficiency in the winter. Thus, people in these areas cannot get vitamin D from the sun during the winter season.

Your weight. Obese people have less vitamin D circulating in their blood where the body can use it. The reason for that is vitamin D stores in the body as fats. So, if your body mass index is above 30, then you may have low blood levels of vitamin D.

4 Side effects of vitamin D supplementation

1. Hypercalcemia
Hypercalcemia is having more calcium in your blood. It happens if you have more than 104000 ng/mL of calcium in your blood.

The most severe side effects of vitamin D toxicity lead to hypercalcemia.
Researchers say 10.4 milligrams of calcium per decilitre of blood is enough.

Having high levels of vitamin D metabolites in your blood increases the amount of calcium your intestines absorb.

The high levels of vitamin D metabolites can encourage the release of calcium from the bones into the bloodstream.

Having too much calcium in your blood may lead to various symptoms and health problems like:

  • Diarrhea and constipation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Muscle and painful joint.
  • Constant headaches
  • Muscle weakness
  • High blood pressure
  • A metallic taste in the mouth
  • Anxiety and feeling irritable
  • Confusion and having thinking troubles

2.Erratic heartbeat and cardio arrest
Severe hypercalcemia affects the heart’s cell functionality. As a result, people with severe hypercalcemia also experience irregular heartbeats.

If you have high calcium levels in your blood, you may develop deposits in the arteries or blood valves.
Doctors did report a case in 2012 where a 70 older adult received calcium injections of 80000 UI/day for a month.

The woman experienced extreme hypercalcemia. Thus she needed a permanent pacemaker because of her heart blockage.

Here are signs of heart complications that associate with vitamin D toxicity:

  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Hypertension
  • Pain while working out
  • An irregular heartbeat

3.Kidney damage
Extra calcium in your blood may bind with phosphate and form crystals that deposit in soft body tissues.

The crystals can induce tissue damage and organ damage. Our kidneys are defenseless calcium deposits because of their role as a filter.

Consuming too many supplements will overrun your kidneys and lead to damage.
If calcium deposits stick in your tissues, then nephrocalcinosis can happen.

Research says severe hypercalcemia and vitamin D can lead to kidney dysfunction and possible failure.

Some of the symptoms of nephrocalcinosis are;

  • Fever and chills
  • Extreme pain in the stomach, groin area, the sides of the back, and testicles in men.
  • Nausea and vomiting

Hypercalcemia can lead to acute pancreatitis.
Researchers published a review in 2017 explaining how to treat induced acute kidney damage caused by hypervitaminosis D.

The study shows 19 people did take an average of 6,000,000 IU of the vitamin in the span of one to three months.

Two out of the 19 people experienced acute pancreatitis as a complication.
Some of the signs of pancreatitis are;

  • A rapid pulse
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Upper stomach pain that stretches to the back

The bottom line
Hypervitaminosis D can lead to several symptoms, and we all react to it in various ways.

Taking vitamin D supplements for a long time puts you at a greater risk of experiencing toxicity.

You need to seek advice from a health care provider before taking vitamin D supplements.
Vitamin D GelcapsMichelle Blackwell/Unsplash

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