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Side Effects from Vitamin D

Vitamin D overdose happens most often when someone gets plenty of sun exposure, enjoys foods that contain high amounts of Vitamin D, and exceeds the recommended dosage with Vitamin D supplements. If you’re taking a quality multivitamin and getting enough sunshine, you may not need to take additional vitamins at all. Doubling up on supplements of any kind may lead to problems, particularly with vitamins that are stored in the body. In healthy adults, taking more than 40,000 IU of Vitamin D can cause toxicity after several months.

Vitamin D is one of the fat-soluble vitamins, along with Vitamin A, E and K. This means it will dissolve in fat but not water. Once your body absorbs Vitamin D, it stores it in your liver and your fatty tissues. Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in your body for up to six months.

Although there’s no established threshold for Vitamin D overdose, the upper intake level is generally agreed to be about 4,000 IU per day for most people, from pre-teens to adults. If you’re taking liquid Vitamin D supplements, be sure the dropper is clearly marked so you can get the proper dosage and avoid unwanted Vitamin D side effects.

Vitamin D overdose causes something called hypercalcemia, or too much calcium in the blood. If hypercalcemia is not treated, it results in excess deposits of calcium in soft tissues and organs such as the kidneys, liver, stomach, lungs and heart, causing pain and even organ damage.

Taking excessive amounts of Vitamin D can result in side effects commonly beginning with a loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. These are often followed by itching, weakness, insomnia, nervousness, general depression, excessive urination, excessive thirst, and in extreme cases, renal failure. Other symptoms of Vitamin D overdose include abnormal bone growth, diarrhea, irritability, weight loss, and severe depression.

Treating Vitamin D toxicity starts with restricting Vitamin D supplements and limiting calcium intake. Exposure to sunlight for prolonged periods doesn’t normally cause Vitamin D overdose, so it isn’t much of a factor in overcoming Vitamin D side effects.

Who Is At Risk of Vitamin D Side Effects?

People with certain medical conditions like hyperparathyroidism are more sensitive to Vitamin D and are more prone to develop hypercalcemia if they get too much Vitamin D.

Maternal hypercalcemia during pregnancy can increase sensitivity for the unborn child. This could lead to tragic consequences such as mental retardation and facial deformities for the baby. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should consult a healthcare professional before taking a Vitamin D supplement.

For liquid Vitamin D meant for babies, the FDA recommends that the dosage dropper holds no more than 400 IU. Babies up to one year old should have no more than 1,000 IU per day. In November 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) increased the daily upper limit to 2,500 IU for children 1 to 3 years old. For ages 4 to 8 years, the maximum dose is 3,000 IU per day.

If you’re a healthy adult and you’re taking large doses of Vitamin D, you could be flirting with some serious side effects. Published cases of toxicity involving hypercalcemia all involve an intake of more than 40,000 IU per day. If your own Vitamin D consumption falls under this limit, then your outcome is likely to be sunny.