Is too much of Vitamin D harming your body and what should you keep in mind while taking supplements. Experts answer
Are you taking too much Vitamin D? Is it harming your body? We got in touch with two experts recently to know all about Vitamin D supplements and how taking an excess dosage can affect our bodies negatively.
Vitamin D deficiency is a common problem, especially in urban setups, because we don't get the adequate sunlight required by our bodies. In the last two years, the Covid-19 pandemic has also forced us to spend most of our time inside the home, which has affected our sunlight intake. Additionally, a study by the International Journal of Research in Orthopaedics published in May 2020 said that nearly 76 per cent of Indians suffer from Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency. The prevalence was most common among adults aged 18-30 years. Amid this, Indians started including Vitamin D supplements in their daily routine. It has given rise 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 one keep in mind while taking them? Well, we got in touch with two specialists, Co-Founder and Chief Dietician of Diet2Nourish Priyanka Jaiswal and Dr Karun Makhija, MBBS and MD in Preventive Medicine, to get all the information about Vitamin D toxicity and more. (Also Read: New research finds low vitamin D levels among young people of colour)
Is too much Vitamin D intake harmful to our body?
Dr Karun Makhija remarked, "Excessive dosage of Vitamin D can cause damage to our body. The common side effects are vomiting and nausea. It can also damage the kidneys and bones and lead to excessive calcium formation in the body which can cause stone formation in the kidneys. Additionally, if your blood increases by 100 nanograms it can damage your body. So, unless you get blood tests, you won't be able to find if your body is reaching toxicity levels. So, people who are taking supplements regularly, they should get their blood tests done. If the blood levels are high, they should stop Vitamin D supplements in between."
Priyanka Jaiswal said, "We should always keep in mind that too much intake of any vitamin or mineral can be harmful to us. To keep this in check, we should regularly get our blood tests done. And only after knowing the parameters and vitals, we can start the medication because there is always a deadline to the prescribed dosage given by a doctor or a dietician. Moreover, supplements only act as a support for our bodies. For example, if a person got their blood report today indicating a Vitamin D deficiency, they will have to start a vitamin-rich diet. However, the supplements will help in covering up all the backlog."
Talking about the harmful effects of taking the supplement regularly while ignoring prescribed dosages, Priyanka wrote, "Too much Vitamin D can harm the bones, liver, kidneys, and other parts of your body."
What is the right amount of Vitamin D supplements that we can consume?
Dr Makhija said, "Multivitamin supplements have a low amount of Vitamin D, which is adequate for our bodies. But if you take Vitamin D supplements separately, which are high doses, then you have to reduce the frequency. So, before starting a course, always get a blood test in six months and then consult a doctor to know the adequate dosage if you are deficient."
According to Priyanka, the correct supplement dosage depends upon the age and health of the person. However, if one takes the general scenario, the minimum dosage starts from 400 IU (International Units) per day and goes up to 800 IU. Additionally, she said, "Vitamin D supplements are generally given with Calcium because without it one cannot digest the dosage. Therefore, before taking any kind of supplement it is important to reach out to a doctor or dietician."
What are the benefits of taking Vitamin D supplements, if taken in the right amount?
"The most important benefit of taking Vitamin D supplements is that it supports your skeleton structure because it regulates the amount of Calcium and phosphorus in our body. And at the end of the day, they provide strength to our bones," Priyanka said.
Can you die if you take too much Vitamin D? Is it a myth or a fact?
Priyanka explained, "There haven't been any cases that have come to my notice. However, wrong dosage and too much intake can affect your bone fragility and calcium absorption." However, Dr Makhija related the scenario to Vitamin D toxicity. He said, "This can happen due to Vitamin D intoxication. If you take a very high dosage of Vitamin D supplements for a long period, it can damage the heart, kidneys and other parts of your body. But such cases are rare because most people continue their courses for only a short period. But if one overdoes it, that can damage the body."
What are the natural sources of Vitamin D?
"Generally, we suggest sunlight as the best source of Vitamin D. However, in India, we have certain limitations because many don't have the option to take a sunbath properly like in Western countries. We sit in the sun dressed in clothes, thus allowing only a few parts of our body to properly get adequate Vitamin D. And that is not enough going by the per day exposure. Apart from that, we suggest people to add saline fish, red meat, and egg yolk in their diet," Priyanka said.