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Home / Nutrition / Can I Overdose on Vitamin D

Can I Overdose on Vitamin D

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg March 29, 2018

Let me guess.

You’ve been taking vitamin D - a lot of it.

As much as 30,000 IUs per day, because you know your body needs vitamin D to function properly. And you’re right. Vitamin D3 is essential for your health. (For purposes of this article, I’ll use the terms vitamin D and D3 interchangeably.)

But lately, you’ve been experiencing some abdominal pain and even the occasional odd heart rhythm. You can’t quite pin down why. Then you wonder, are these symptoms somehow side effects of vitamin D toxicity? Is it possible to overdose on vitamin D?

Let’s take a look.

In this article:

  1. Too Much Of A Good Thing
  2. Why Take Vitamin D In The First Place?
  3. The Element That Vitamin D Needs To Work Properly
  4. The Solution To Hypercalcemia Risk
  5. You Just Need A Simple Tweak To Get Vitamin D Right

Too Much Of A Good Thing

You've likely heard the term sunshine vitamin to describe vitamin D. With good reason; sunshine is the best source of this crucial vitamin.

Here’s how it works:

When your skin is exposed to sunlight, it makes vitamin D when the sun's ultraviolet B rays shine on the cholesterol in your skin cells.

Even if you spend a significant amount of time out in the sun, you can’t get too much vitamin D from sunshine. Your body’s smarter than that; it’s not going to overdo D3 production.

But yes, you can overdo vitamin D supplementation - big time!

I see people taking large quantities of vitamin D from 10,000 IUs up to 30,000 or more.

Why would they do this?

a hand holding a bottle of vitamin D pills


Why Take Vitamin D In The First Place?

Your body needs vitamin D to absorb calcium and promote bone growth. A deficiency of vitamin D results in soft bones in children and fragile, misshapen bones in adults.

It’s also an important factor in making sure your muscles, heart, lungs and brain work well and that your body can fight infection. Thus, vitamin D deficiency has now been linked to a host of diseases and conditions: breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, depression, and weight gain. People with higher levels of vitamin D have a lower risk of disease.

Though your body can make its own vitamin D from the sun shining on your skin, you can immediately see the problem with this. If you live in an area where you don’t get much sunshine, or you have to be indoors most of the time, you can easily become

deficient. As well, if you have dark skin, are elderly, or use sunscreen whenever you’re outside, you’re at higher risk for becoming deficient.

How do you know if you lack vitamin D?

You can have your vitamin D levels checked via a routine blood test. Ask your health care provider about it, especially if you fall into a high-risk category or if you experience symptoms of a deficiency such as bone pain, fatigue, frequent illness, or depression.

If your provider has told you to take vitamin D supplements to correct a deficiency, that’s good!

But there’s a catch that most health care professionals don’t know.


The Element That Vitamin D Needs To Work Properly

Your health care provider may not be aware that D3 requires another vitamin or it can’t properly do its job.

That vitamin is K2.

a drawing of the vitamin K2

K2’s role is to take the calcium out of the blood and soft tissue, then put it into the bone. Calcium gets into your blood and soft tissues because vitamin D3 helps absorb it from the small intestine by twenty times more than when the D vitamin is lacking.

And of course, you need adequate calcium for bone and teeth health, as well as to help repair small wounds in the walls of your arteries.

If you consume too much D3 without K2, you can get a build-up of calcium in the soft tissue in your body, a condition known as hypercalcemia. First, it builds up in the blood then trickles into the soft tissues where it can cause significant problems such as:

  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Kidney stones
  • Frequent urination
  • Excess thirst
  • Abdominal pain
  • Depression
  • Heart arrhythmias

To compound the problem, if you’re taking large amounts of D3 products that also contain calcium, that creates an even worse situation because more calcium is being dumped into your blood without the requisite amount of K2 to move it into your bones.

Calcium carbonate is particularly problematic - and it’s the form of calcium contained in most multivitamins that are commercially available. You’d be better off chewing the cement outside on the sidewalk!

So, what’s the solution?


The Solution To Hypercalcemia Risk

If you’re taking calcium carbonate along with large amounts of vitamin D, you could put your health at risk from hypercalcemia, so always take the K2 with D3.

I recommend taking what’s called the MK7 type at a ratio of 100 mcg for every 10,000 IUs of D3, for optimum transport of calcium out of your blood and soft tissues and into your bones and other areas of your body that require sufficient levels of calcium.

In addition to supplements, K2 is found in animal-based foods and fermented products such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and yogurt. I recommend increasing your intake of these foods.


You Just Need A Simple Tweak To Get Vitamin D Right

Your body needs vitamin D to be healthy.

You’re doing the right thing by upping your intake and, when possible, spending more time out in the sun, letting its rays hit your skin.

While you may have been overdoing the amount of D3 on its own, it’s not your fault. Now that you know how to combine it with vitamin K2, you can eliminate your risk of hypercalcemia and truly experience the benefits of having an adequate amount of vitamin D in your body.

Take high-quality K2 supplements, eat more fermented foods you enjoy, and experience the benefits of correctly boosting your vitamin D levels.

You’ll be glad you did.

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