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Vitamin D toxicity is rare, and usually a result of accidental overdosing, according to recent study

Posted on: January 24, 2018   by  Vitamin D Council


Interest in vitamin D supplementation and testing has increased over the last few decades. Therefore, it’s only rational for concerns over toxicity and side effects to increase as well. A 16-year retrospective study evaluated the vitamin D status of patients at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics (UIHC) to determine the risk of toxicity.

Researchers studied a total of 73,779 hospital patients and analyzed 127,932 serum blood samples to determine 25(OH)D status. For individuals with vitamin D levels above 120 ng/ml (300 nmol/l), or who displayed signs and symptoms of hypercalcemia, detailed medical reviews were conducted. Signs and symptoms of hypercalcemia were defined as excessive thirst, excessive urination, decreased appetite, vomiting, constipation, abdominal pain, renal failure, and/or failure to thrive.

This is what the researchers found:

  • Only 1.05% of the participants had vitamin D levels above 80 ng/ml (200 nmol/l).
  • Only 0.12% had levels that exceeded 120 ng/ml (300 nmol/l).
  • Four patients showed symptoms of vitamin D toxicity, and three of these cases were caused by mistaken overdosing of liquid vitamin D supplements.
  • The last case of toxicity was allegedly due to daily supplementation of 1,000 IU, but the researchers flagged this case for potentially inaccurate history.

The researchers concluded,

“Symptomatic vitamin D toxicity is uncommon, and elevated levels of 25(OH)D do not strongly correlate with clinical symptoms or total serum/plasma calcium levels. Our study highlights the potential risks of the liquid formulation of vitamin D.”


Lee J.P., et al. Vitamin D Toxicity: A 16-Year Retrospective Study at an Academic Medical Center. Laboratory Medicine, 2018.

2 Responses to Vitamin D toxicity is rare, and usually a result of accidental overdosing, according to recent study

  1. [email protected]

    I am male, 68. On January 12, 2018, I got my blood tested. My 25-OH-D total was 320 nmol/L (128 ng/ml). Only sign of this ‘exceeded level’ is my failure to thrive. – I was taking 5000 IU / day. Otherwise, all in all, I feel great. I have stopped taking vitamin D. How soon should/could I be down to 100-200 nmol/L (40-80 ng/ml), the optimal level for a healthy person? When or how soon should I do the blood spot test again?

  2. Above23

    I believe you need to discuss that with your doctor. In my search of world literature there are no deaths attributed directly to vitamin D3. Anecdotally toxicity, hypercalcemia starts at blood levels of 400 ng/ml. The article that discussed how they came to establish toxic levels found that levels up to 300ng/ml were safe. Personally I believe there is an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. Like Dr. channel who has been a huge advocate for vitamin D3 I believe we are underdosed. We are still stuck in 80 year old thinking and dosing. Dosing to treat rickets. Currently, yes shameless plug, I am writing a book on optimal dosing of vitamin D3. I have not read Dr. Cannels books on vitamin D3 but I have ordered them. Yes I am rambling and not answering your questions. But you hit the nail on the head. “I am taking 5,000iu’s/day, my blood level is 120ng/ml and I feel great” perhaps not exactly what you wrote but it paraphrases it! I fee Great. Isn’t that the point. Again I am not giving medical advice and clear with your doctor but I found personally blood levels between 100-140 ng/ml worked great for me. I don’t get much sun but it appears you do as in treating thousands of patients with vitamin D3 none were able to attain that blood level with taking that dose. So clear with doctor but often I find many are not open minded about vitamin D3. See in medical school they scared us away from “fat soluble vitamins “ which vitamin D isn’t!

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