Is too much of Vitamin D harming your body and what should you keep in mind while taking supplements. Experts answer | Health

Vitamin D deficiency is a common problem, especially in urban settings, because we don’t get enough sunlight that our bodies need. Over the past two years, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to spend more of our time indoors, which has affected our sunlight intake. Additionally, a study in the International Journal of Research in Orthopedics published in May 2020 stated that around 76 percent of Indians suffer from vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency. Prevalence is more common in adults aged 18-30 years. Meanwhile, Indians started including vitamin D supplements in their daily routine. This led to another problem – vitamin D toxicity.

What happens if you take too much vitamin D? Does it harm your body, lead to increased toxicity levels or affect your bones? How much supplement is too much? What should be kept in mind while taking them? Also, we caught up with Diet2Nourish Priyanka Jaiswal, MD MBBS and Dr. Karun Makhija, Co-Founder and Chief Dietitian in Preventive Medicine to get all the information on Vitamin D toxicity and more. (Also Read: New research finds lower vitamin D levels in young people of color)

Too much vitamin D can harm our body.  Common side effects are vomiting and nausea.  (pixels)
Too much vitamin D can harm our body. Common side effects are vomiting and nausea. (pixels)

Is consuming too much vitamin D harmful to our body?

Karun Makhija said, “Excessive dosage of vitamin D can harm our body. Common side effects are vomiting and nausea. It can damage kidneys and bones and cause excessive calcium formation in the body, which can lead to formation of stones. In addition to kidneys, if your blood increases by 100 nanograms, it can damage your body. So, unless you do blood tests, you won’t be able to find out if your body is reaching toxic levels. So, people who take supplements regularly, they should get their blood tests done. If blood levels are high, they should stop taking vitamin D supplements.”

Priyanka Jaiswal, “We always have to remember that excess intake of any vitamin or mineral is harmful for us. To control this, we have to get our blood tests done regularly. And only after knowing the parameters and vitals, we can start the medication because there is always a deadline for the dosage prescribed by the doctor or dietician. Also, Supplements work to support our bodies. For example, if a person today gets a blood report indicating a vitamin D deficiency, they need to start eating a vitamin-rich diet. However, supplements can help close all the backlog.”

Talking about the harmful effects of taking the supplement regularly, ignoring the prescribed dosages, Priyanka wrote, “Too much vitamin D can damage bones, liver, kidneys and other parts of your body.”

What are the right amounts of vitamin D supplements we can take?

Dr Makhija said, “Multivitamin supplements contain small amounts of vitamin D, which is sufficient for our body. But if you take high doses of vitamin D supplements separately, you need to reduce the frequency. So, before starting the course, always do a blood test in six months and then if you are deficient. Consult a doctor to know the adequate dosage.”

According to Priyanka, the right supplement dosage depends on the person’s age and health. However, if one takes a general scenario, the minimum dosage starts from 400 IU (International Units) per day and goes up to 800 IU. Additionally, “Vitamin D supplements are usually given with calcium because the dosage cannot be digested without it. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor or dietician before taking any type of supplement.”

If you take too much vitamin D supplements for a long time, it can damage the heart, kidneys and other parts of your body.
If you take too much vitamin D supplements for a long time, it can damage the heart, kidneys and other parts of your body. (unsplash)

What are the benefits of taking vitamin D supplements in the right amount?

“The main benefit of taking vitamin D supplements is that it supports your skeletal structure because it regulates the amount of calcium and phosphorus in our body. And at the end of the day, they give strength to our bones,” said Priyanka.

Can You Die If You Take Too Much Vitamin D? Is this myth or fact?

“There have been no cases that have come to my notice. However, wrong dosage and high intake can affect your bone fragility and calcium absorption,” explained Priyanka. However, Dr Makhija relates this scenario to vitamin D toxicity. He said, “This can happen due to vitamin D intoxication. If you take vitamin D supplements for a long time, it can damage the heart, kidneys and other parts of your body. But such cases are rare because most people continue their courses only for a short period of time but if one consumes too much of it, it can damage the body.”

What are the natural sources of vitamin D?

“Normally, we suggest sunlight as the best source of vitamin D. However, in India, we have some limitations because many do not have the option of taking proper sun baths like in western countries. We sit in the sun wearing clothes. Thus only certain parts of our body get enough vitamin D. And exposure to the day is not enough. Apart from this, we advise people to include salted fish, red meat and egg yolk in their diet,” said Priyanka.

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