Taking High Dose Vitamin D for Long Periods of Time

by marianne
(austin, TX)

I am a female and I have had high blood pressure since I was 30 years old. I have never been overweight. And at 41, it was discovered that my vitamin D level was at a "10".


I have been taking Vitamin D 50,000 IU for over a year. After, a year I am up to a 34. I was wondering if it is dangerous to be taking such high levels for over a year.

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High Dose Vitamin D
by: Kerri Knox, RN- The Immune Queen

Hi Marianne,

That is an intriguing question.

I'm assuming that you have been taking 50,000 IU's of Vitamin D per week? Is that right Marianne?


So, interestingly you- as most people- believe that 50,000 IU's per week is a "high dose of Vitamin D", but as your test results are showing, you are barely up over the 'low normal' level of 30 ng/ml and according to most researchers, you are STILL VITAMIN D DEFICIENT after one year on 50,000 IU's per week!!!


So, by definition- you are NOT taking 'high dose vitamin d', you are taking a 'maintenance dose of vitamin d' and should ACTUALLY probably take a little bit EXTRA for a month or two to get your Vitamin D levels UP more!!!

A better strategy, however, is probably just to get some extra sunshine a couple of times per week to make up the difference. According to most researchers, your Vitamin D level should be between 50-80 ng/ml. So, after a year of 'high dose vitamin d', you are about HALF WAY to where you should be!


So, the only risks of taking a lot of Vitamin D over a long period of time is getting Vitamin D Toxicity. But since you are getting your Vitamin D levels monitored and you are still insufficient then there is no change of that.


I have heard of doctors taking people OFF of 'High Dose Vitamin D' because they were worried about liver and kidney damage. But these doctors just simply don't know what they are talking about. There is no evidence of anyone having liver or kidney damage from appropriately given Vitamin D without toxicity.


In every research study, the researchers were always amazed at what amounts they could give to people without causing any problems whatsoever.


So, Marianne, continue to take your 'Maintenance Dose' of 50,000 IU's of Vitamin D without worry. Just be sure to continue getting your levels checked at least once yearly if not every 6 months.



Kerri Knox, RN

Kerri Knox, RN- The Immune Queen
Functional Medicine Practitioner
Easy Immune Health.com


high doses of vitamin D can be dangerous
by: hyperparathyroidism

Please see Parathyroid.com related to vitamin D.


Vitamin D has one job- to assist in the absorption of calcium.


In some instances, Calcium is overabundant and vitamin D intentionally "turns off in your system" as a safety mechanisim. In such a circumstance, vitamin D supplementation can worsen a calcium metabolism problem and at best make you feel a lot worse.

The question is not how much vitamin D does it take to get you in the normal range! The question is why were you in the abnormal range to begin with.

Vitamin D and Calcium Levels
by: Kerri Knox, RN-The Immune Health Queen!

You make a good point about Vitamin D and Calcium. It's important to get your Calcium levels checked if your Vitamin D Levels are low.

There are a small number of people who will have HIGH Calcium levels if they have a Low Vitamin D Level. This would indicate further testing for parathyroid hormone levels and a consult with an endocrinologist.


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But the vast majority of people with Low Vitamin D Levels will have either normal or low Calcium levels, and the vast majority of the time, they have low vitamin D levels simply because they are not getting enough.


In these cases (the vast majority of cases), high dose Vitamin D therapy of under 10,000 IU's for even long periods of time is safe and has few side effects.



However, I disagree with the above author and Parathyroid.com that the ONLY function of Vitamin D is for calcium regulation.


Vitamin D also:

Regulates thousands of genes
Is an anti-inflammatory hormone
And is an immune system modulator

among some of its MANY functions.


Parathyroid.com has some GREAT information, but it's information about Vitamin D needs to be updated to reflect the current knowledge about the functions of Vitamin D.



Kerri Knox RN Immune Health Queen

Kerri Knox, RN- The Immune Health Queen
Functional Medicine Practitioner
Easy Immune Health.com

Does high does Vitamin D knock out other levels?
by: Debbie

Hi Kerri,

I've been diagnosed with a vitamin d deficiency (36.1 nmol/L) and for the past 3 months have been trying to build up to taking 5000IU under my GP's instruction having found I am very sensitive to taking the supplements (D3 supplements from Nature's Sunshine). I am now up to 4000IU. After a month on it I started getting very anxious and then saw your comments on magnesium deficiency and started taking magnesium malate (about 400mg a day).




This helped with the anxiety but now I've started feeling lightheaded with chills and faint, especially around my period. I also have white flecks that have appeared on my nails. I take next to no calcium supplementation apart from what's in a multivitamin. Could high dose vitamin d and the magnesium now be throwing out my calcium levels? Do I need to take more calcium? I worry if I am taking magnesium unnecessarily.

It all feels like a real balancing act and the benefits I have felt initially feel as if they are being replaced by unwelcome side effects. The other concern is should I be scaling back on my vitamin d supplements and trying to just get it naturally from the sun instead now that it is spring? (England) Will I overdose if I take high dose supplements in combination with the sun?

Sorry for so many questions, this is the only website I have found that has helped me.

Thanks,
Debbie

Vitamin d and sun...
by: Kerri Knox, RN- The Immune Queen!

Hi Debbie,

With vitamin d levels as low as yours and the fact that you are not able to get much vitamin d in (5000 IU's is STILL way too low), so you can safely get sun and take your supplements for now. Just make sure that you get your levels checked in a month or two.

So, if you had symptoms when you took the vitamin d and magnesium made you feel better, then it's a 'Given' that you had (have) magnesium deficiency. And since you are not getting it in your diet enough to meet your needs, then you aren't taking it 'unnecessarily'- you NEED it!!!

So, feel free to take it liberally as most of us need a LOT more of it than we think. Dr. Carolyn Dean author of The Magnesium Miracle has been taking around 1200 to 1500 mg for many years- because she gets Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency without it.

Learn to listen to what your body says as far as your need for magnesium.

Next, the white spots on your nails are very likely due to zinc deficiency!!! That's why I don't like people to just take ONE nutrient. Nutrients are all synergistic, and it would be MUCH better to be taking a High Quality Multivitamin and Mineral Supplement.

The VAST majority of people aren't deficient in ONE nutrient- if you have one then you have many. We've identified 3 now, and so how many more do you have!!

But there is a common factor here too!! 3 nutrient deficiencies means one of two things:

1) You are living on junk food

OR

2) You are not absorbing nutrients due to Increased Intestinal Permeability- which is likely due to Gluten Sensitivity!!


So, that's probably a LOT for you to take in- so read the pages that I referred you to and check back in if you have any questions.


Kerri Knox RN Immune Health Queen

Kerri Knox, RN- The Immune System Queen
Functional Medicine Practitioner
Immune System

Follow up questions re: suggestions
by: Debbie

Hi Kerri,

Thank you so much for your comments. Firstly just to say I'm reassured I'm not poisoning myself so that's good! But I just have a couple of follow up questions if I may having read your suggestions.

Re: your suggestions about taking a broad multi-vitamin/mineral supplement: yes I started taking a good broad supplement about 6 weeks ago called Equifem by Biotics Research.

But I only take 2 of the suggested 6 daily tablets because I was worried I would overload my liver by taking too much on top of all the vitamin d. I'm confused as to why I would be showing a zinc deficiency now when I didn't have signs of it before I started taking the Equifem? Do you think I should up the dose of that supplement to balance out the vitamin d and magnesium I'm taking?

That relates to my original question I suppose of whether taking high dose of one or two nutrients (Vit d and Mg) knocks out everything else?

Re: your Gluten Intolerance Diet suggestion. Yes I am usually very bloated and constipated so after reading what you had written I also went gluten free at the same time I started taking the Equifem and started taking a good quality probiotic too called Progreen (by Allergy Research).



I felt quite a difference going gluten free in that my head became very clear and any wind I had disappeared. My only disappointment was that the bloating has remained and I am still fairly constipated. I think you are right that my digestive system must be out of balance. Is there anything else I should be doing to overcome the bloating or do you think is it just a matter of time and keeping up with the supplements and gluten free diet?

I don't actually eat junk food and have a pretty sugar free low fat whole food type healthy diet though it could certainly improve. In the past few years though I have had a lot of pain from my back and neck and have been on daily painkillers that contain codeine.

The vitamin d has really helped with pain levels so now I am down to just 2 a day instead of 4 or 6 (total of 8mg of codeine in each tab combined with paracetemol and caffeine) and intend to come off them altogether in the next few months. I'm convinced these painkillers must have caused the 'leaky gut' - do you think that is possible? In which case if I don't take them will my gut heal in time?

Am I on the right track?!

I really appreciate your time with this.

Many thanks,
Debbie

You're on the right track...
by: Kerri Knox, RN- The Immune Queen!

Hi Debbie,

You're definitely on the right track!! Good for you for going gluten free. Most people who are gluten intolerant are also dairy intolerant as well, so your continued bloating, constipation could also be due to a dairy intolerance.

Please feel free to increase your vitamins to the full dose. I think that you are 'overthinking' it just a bit on the vitamins. There are cultures (such as the Hunza) who get MASSIVE amounts of vitamins and minerals from their water that has been run through mineral rich rocks or glacial melt.

Very few vitamins or minerals- except for vitamin A in the form of RETINOLS (NOT in the form of carotenes- see my page on Cod Liver Oil Information for more on this)- are hard on your liver.

I think that this is misinformation that comes from doctors who seem to be vitamin phobic, but vitamins- particularly those from food sources- are EXTREMELY safe. And as you are finding out, there is a higher risk of being DEFICIENT then there is of getting too much. There are EXTREMELY few cases of people getting too many vitamins- and you're just not going to do that from the recommended dosage on a high quality multivitamin!!

I don't know why you might be showing signs of zinc deficiency now, but vitamins are all 'synergistic' with each other. As you found out, vitamin d EXPOSED your latent magnesium deficiency- it didn't 'knock out' your magnesium as you said.

But it requires vitamin b6 to absorb magnesium and b6 is dependent upon zinc for IT'S absorption- so you need to be sufficient in everything or a chain reaction takes place.

I don't think that you necessarily need to get extra zinc right now, you'll probably get plenty when you take the full dose of your multivitamins.

I'm also betting that your constipation might be improved with the higher dosages of Magnesium Supplements.

Also, you asked about the medications 'causing' your Increased Intestinal Permeability. While the medications may have CONTRIBUTED to it (and I'm glad that your pain is getting better), I like people to also look at what lifestyle factors that they have control over that led to the need for the pain relievers in the first place.

So, it's just a good time to 'take stock' so that you can remedy the problems that got you where you are now. But if you fix up things and get nourished again and stay off gluten, YES- you CAN heal up your leaky gut!!


Start there and let me know how things are coming along. You're definitely in the right direction.




Karen
by: Anonymous

I have been taking 50,000 u. of Vitamin D, three times per week. Previously, I was taking 50,000 u. per week, with no apparent side effect. Since I have been taking the increased dosage, I have been having cardiac dysrhymias very frequently, sometimes for several hours. I have no history of cardiac disease, and my only risk factor for cardiac disease is obesity, I also have hyperparathyroidism.

My last Vit, D. level was barely in the low normal range. When I stopped taking the Vit. D. for a week, the dysrhythmias ceased. When I resumed taking the Vitamin D, after two doses, I had several hours of frequent dysrhymias, accompanied by coughing and dizziness. I have not seen cardiac dysrhythmias listed as a side effect. Your comment please. I am frightened to continue taking the Vitamin D. I have appointment with my physician, but not until next week.

How did you miss it...
by: Kerri Knox, RN- The Immune Queen!

Hi Karen,

I'm not sure how you missed it, but it's RIGHT THERE on the Vitamin D Side Effects page as a side effect. I have AT LEAST a dozen pages on that exact side effect of vitamin d and it's cause and solution.

The cause is that you are moderately to severely magnesium deficient and because vitamin d requires magnesium in order to be converted into its active form in the blood, taking vitamin d 'brings out' latent magnesium deficiencies.

A magnesium deficiency is the likely reason why you are not 'absorbing' the vitamin d and need such a high dose. Please see my page on Magnesium and Vitamin D to understand this better and why the solution is super easy...



Kerri Knox RN Immune Health Queen

Kerri Knox, RN- The Immune System Queen
Functional Medicine Practitioner
Immune System
Side Effects

 


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Vit D, magnesium and calcium together.....
by: Angie

Hi, Do to being a smoker I took high doses of calcium, but now have calcified cysts in my breast. I quit taking the calcium and started taking 750mg of magnesium and lots of water. The soreness went away and it is shrinking. I have always taken 2000iu of Vit D and 250mg of magnesium with 1800 mg of calcium. What is the right amount for this problem?

What does smoking have to do with taking calcium
by: Kerri Knox, RN- The Immune Queen!

Hi Angie,

I have no idea why you would be taking high doses of calcium because you were a smoker. That makes no sense to me and personally I think that taking anything but a small amount of supplemental calcium is unnecessary and potentially harmful. Westerners already get more calcium than most of the rest of the world and yet still have the highest rate of osteoporosis in the world. And studies are now beginning to come in that are showing that women taking supplemental calcium for long periods of time are showing higher rates of heart disease.

In my opinion, taking 1800 mg of calcium is ENORMOUS and I would never ever take that amount of calcium supplementation unless I had a VERY specific medical reason to do so. And in my opinion, taking only 250 mg of magnesium (and it's probably in the poorly absorbed oxide form, so you are getting even less) is ridiculously small and would barely even be considered supplementation.

In any case, there is no 'right dose' for your problem, as if there is some formula in a book that will work for everyone or as if there are hundreds of studies out there on it. There is not.

In any case, if it's shrinking why would you wonder what the right dose is? It seems that you've found it.



Kerri Knox RN

Kerri Knox, RN- The Immune System Queen
Functional Medicine Practitioner
Immune System
Side Effects

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