Vitamin D: How Much is Too Much?


Known as the ‘sunshine’ vitamin because our bodies produce it from sun exposure, Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin vital for bone and brain health. It has also been touted as a potential treatment for ailments from headaches to arthritis. But have you ever wondered, is it possible to get too much vitamin D?

Yes, it is possible to have too much of a good thing, especially when it comes to too much vitamin D, according to a recent study. The paper, published in JAMA, says more than 18% of the U.S. population gets excess vitamin D — and more than 3% takes daily doses so high it could actually be harmful to their health.

The sunshine vitamin has been touted as being so crucial to good health, that some health practitioners regularly screen patients for a deficiency. A 2007 paper in the New England Journal of Medicine even linked a lack of the nutrient to an increased risk of cancer, diabetes, schizophrenia and depression. So naturally, it makes sense that people would want to take in all the goodness that vitamin D supplements have to offer. But how much is safe to take?

How Much You Need May Depend on Age or a Deficiency

Vitamin D is measured with something called an “international unit,” or IU for short. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) , the daily recommendation for vitamin D for adults is 200 IU daily for men and women under the age of 50, while those older than 50 should increase dosage to a daily amount of 400 – 800 IU.

However, if you suffer from a deficiency, a higher dosage may be suggested. Integrative medicine expert Dr. Andrew Weil says that 2,000 IU of vitamin D per day is acceptable for most people, especially those lacking in the nutrient. The doctor also suggests to look for supplements that provide D3 (cholecalciferol) rather than D2 (ergocalciferol).

Toxicity Most Commonly From Vitamin Supplements

It’s unlikely to get too much from the sun or from vitamin D-rich food, according to the Mayo Clinic—but it is possible to get too much when you overdo it with supplements.Toxicity usually happens if you take 40,000 IU per day for a couple of months or longer, or take a very large one-time dose and can include symptoms of loss of appetite, excessive thirst and fatigue.

Since the sunshine vitamin is fat-soluble, taking too much of the supplement can be extremely dangerous for your health, say experts. “Excessive intake of vitamin D can, however, be harmful, as it can cause over absorption of calcium. Excess blood calcium can, in turn, lead to detrimental deposition of calcium in soft tissues, such as the heart and kidneys,” Pamela Lutsey, a public health researcher at the University of Minnesota, tells Reuters.

More facts about Vitamin D

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