Vitamin D Newsletter


Vitamin D overdose

Roberta from Fairfield writes:

Dr. Cannell: I seem to be reacting to Vitamin D pills even at the 400 IU  level with dry eye and mouth. Please address overdose symptoms for Vitamin D as any good advice column should do. Can you also address what a person like me should do to absorb Vitamin D supplements? Can a person get Vitamin D from the tanning machines? I hope you take my recommendations to heart. Your web site is valuable and could be more helpful to all. 

Dr. Cannell replies:

The symptoms of vitamin D toxicity are weakness, nausea, vomiting, pain in the joints, loss of appetite, and weight loss. The patient may experience constipation alternating with diarrhea, or have tingling sensations in the mouth.

The toxic dose of vitamin D depends on its frequency. In infants, a single dose of 15 mg (600,000 IU) or greater may be toxic, and has to exceed 0.5 mg (20,000 IU) per day over a prolonged period to be toxic in infants. In adults, a daily dose of 1.0–2.0 mg (40,000–80,000) of vitamin D may be toxic when consumed for a prolonged period. A single dose of about 50mg (2,000,000 IU) or greater is probably toxic for adults. The immediate effect of an overdose of vitamin D is abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting, not dry mouth and eyes. Toxic doses of vitamin D taken over a prolonged period of time result in deposits of calcium crystals in the soft tissues of the body that may damage the heart, lungs, and kidneys.

For people who have trouble with supplements, I recommend sunbathing during the warmer months and sun tanning parlors in the colder months. Yes, sun tanning parlors make vitamin D, the most is made by the older type beds. Another possibility is a Sperti vitamin D lamp.

Mark from Grand Rapids writes:

Dr. Cannell: I am a pain management physician in Grand Rapids MI. and I prescribe a lot of vitamin D. Typically I write for 50,000 IU  as a weekly tablet and dispense this to a lot of my elderly patients with osteoporosis. Occasionally one of them takes it daily because they cannot or do not read their label on the bottle.

My most recent patient to do this is a 75 year-old female weighing about 250 pounds. She has had non-healing venous stasis ulcers in bilateral lower extremities for over 5 years despite the best efforts of the local wound care clinic. When she received her prescription for vitamin D she proceeded to take it daily until all 13 tabs were gone. When I saw her at her next visit we caught her mistake, wrote her for a new RX and made sure she knew how to take it. However, since her accidental overdose, the wounds have started healing! The one on her left leg is completely healed and the right one is closing rapidly. Do you think the vitamin D could have had something to do with this? 

Dr. Cannell replies:

I don't know but this is another example of the use of pharmaceutical doses of vitamin D (this one by mistake). Vitamin D upregulates antimicrobial peptides in the skin, which promote healing. After World War One, solariums were common treatment for non-healing war wounds. I think you should measure 25(OH)D levels on all your patients. If you do, I think you'll find that 50,000 IU per week is giving your patients levels between 50–80 ng/ml (125–200 nmol/L), which is fine.

Page last edited: 06 November 2010