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Is It Safe To Take Vitamin D Supplements

How Much Is Recommended Daily

Are Vitamin D Supplements Safe?

If you do decide to take a supplement, it can get a bit confusing. Vitamin D doses can either be measured in international units or in micrograms and levels are very different. It’s easiest to stick to one – I’d recommend you look out for the number of micrograms. For reference, 10 mcg is equivalent to 400 IU.

Public Health England recommends that everyone over one year should take a supplement of 10 micrograms of vitamin D from around the end of September to early April. If you don’t get outside much, or if you cover up for religious reasons or have darker skin, you should take it all year round. It’s too early to tell if this new research will affect their recommendations.

Dr Louis Levy, Head of Nutrition Science at PHE, says: “A healthy, balanced diet and short bursts of sunshine will mean most people get all the vitamin D they need in spring and summer. However, everyone will need to consider taking a supplement in the autumn and winter if they don’t eat enough foods that naturally contain vitamin D or are fortified with it. And those who don’t get out in the sun or always cover their skin when they do, should take a vitamin D supplement throughout the year.”

What Happens If I Take Too Much Vitamin D

Taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body . This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart.

If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10 micrograms a day will be enough for most people.

Do not take more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D a day as it could be harmful. This applies to adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly, and children aged 11 to 17 years.

Children aged 1 to 10 years should not have more than 50 micrograms a day. Infants under 12 months should not have more than 25 micrograms a day.

Some people have medical conditions that mean they may not be able to safely take as much. If in doubt, you should consult your doctor.

If your doctor has recommended you take a different amount of vitamin D, you should follow their advice.

You cannot overdose on vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. But always remember to cover up or protect your skin if you’re out in the sun for long periods to reduce the risk of skin damage and skin cancer.

Page last reviewed: 03 August 2020 Next review due: 03 August 2023

Getting Vitamin D From Sunlight

To make vitamin D, you need sunlight on your skin. From April until the end of September its possible to get enough vitamin D by spending time outside.

For most people, you only need to be outside for short periods of time, for example around 20-30 minutes. Although the exact time isnt known because its different for different people. If you have dark skin, for example if youre of south Asian, African or African Caribbean origin, you will need longer in the sun.

You need to have some skin exposed, for example, your forearms, hands and lower legs. But you can still make vitamin D even if you sit in the shade.

Sitting inside by a sunny window doesnt count because glass filters out the UVB rays the type of light that is needed to make vitamin D.

In the UK, we dont get enough vitamin D from sunlight between October and March, because the light doesnt contain enough UVB rays. During this time, we need to rely on getting enough vitamin D from food, and possibly supplements.

The guidelines in the UK are that everyone should consider taking a vitamin D supplement in the winter, especially if youre more like to have a deficiency.

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Heart And Cancer Protection Are Not Proved

Omega-3 pills and antioxidants are widely thought to reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer, respectively, and millions of women take calcium to protect their bones. But recent evidence casts doubt on whether those supplements are as safe or effective as assumed.

Calcium. The latest blow against calcium supplements was a report by German and Swiss researchers who followed almost 24,000 adults for an average of 11 years. They found that regular users of calcium supplements had an 86 percent increased heart-attack risk compared with those who didnt use supplements, as reported in the June 2012 issue of the journal Heart. On the other hand, there was a statistically significant 30 percent reduction of heart-attack risk among adults with a moderately high intake of calcium from food itself.

Why the disparity? The researchers theorized that the supplements may cause quick spikes in blood calcium levels that have been linked to risky lipid levels, whereas calcium in food is likely to be absorbed more slowly. Get calcium from dairy products, green leafy vegetables, and fish with edible bones, such as sardines.

Most people can get enough omega-3s by eating fatty fish at least twice a week. The American Heart Association says that people who have coronary artery disease may want to talk to their doctor about omega-3 supplementation.

Buy With Caution From Botnicas

When Is the Best Time to Take Vitamin D?

These stores, which sell traditional medicinal plants and other artifacts for physical and spiritual healing, are a valued presence in Hispanic neighborhoods in many American cities. But when Consumer Reports sent a Spanish-speaking reporter on a shopping trip to several New York-area botánicas in 2011, he came away with incomplete information and bags of mystery herbs.

Our reporter asked for advice on how to treat type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and impotence, conditions that have effective conventional drug treatments. Healers offered a variety of instructions and herbs, but none volunteered relevant facts about possible side effects or the risky interactions that can occur when an herb is taken with a medication. And when we brought the herbs back to the office and checked the scientific evidence, we found that conclusive research on efficacy and safety was lacking for all of them.

Our investigation left us concerned about product quality and identity at the shops. And experts we consulted suggested that the supply chain used by some of the stores might not follow the best industry standards.

These markets should not be singled out, but they also should not be exempt from meeting the same standards required by other purveyors of herbal and dietary supplements, says Tieraona Low Dog, M.D., a clinical associate professor of medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and fellowship director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.

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Should I Take Lots Of It

No. Although vitamin D supplements are very safe, taking more than the recommended amount every day can be dangerous in the long run.

If you choose to take vitamin D supplements:

  • Children aged one to 10 should not have more than 50 micrograms a day
  • Infants should not have more than 25 micrograms a day
  • Adults should not have more than 100 micrograms a day, with the recommended amount 10 micrograms a day

Higher doses may sometimes be recommended by a doctor for patients with proven vitamin D deficiency.

Some people with certain medical conditions, such as kidney problems, cannot safely take vitamin D.

Which Vitamin D Supplements Are Best: Tablets Capsules Or Sprays

Tablets, capsules and oral sprays have all been proven to be effective methods of raising nutrient levels. So, it does come down to personal preference.

While lots of people take vitamin D tablets or capsules, at BetterYou weve pioneered a method of vitamin D supplementation in the form of oral sprays. These have the advantage of delivering vitamin D directly into the mouth, where the soft tissues and rich vein systems can absorb it, rather than relying on the digestive system.

Watch our YouTube video on how vitamin oral sprays work.

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Some Supplements Are Really Prescription Drugs

Fabricant has said that dietary supplements spiked with prescription drugs are the largest threat to consumer safety. Since 2008 there have been recalls of more than 400 such products, mostly those marketed for bodybuilding, sexual enhancement, and weight loss, according to the FDA.

Weve seen many recalled products that have contained the same or similar active ingredients as prescription drugs, such as sildenafil , tadalafil , and sibutramine . Others contained synthetic steroids.

Those adulterated products can cause some of the same side effects and interactions that consumers may have been trying to avoid by choosing supplements over drugs. The FDA has received reports of strokes, acute liver injury, kidney failure, pulmonary embolism , and death associated with drug-tainted supplements.

A number of the spiked sexual enhancement products claim to work within 20 to 45 minutes, Fabricant said on the FDAs website. When we see a product that makes claims above and beyond what a dietary supplement might doabove supporting healthand within a time frame of a few minutes, it tips us off that we might have a spiked product.

Slim down with diet and exercise. Build muscles by weight training. And consult a doctor if you need help in the bedroom, since it could indicate an underlying health problem. If you suspect youve purchased a product that is tainted with undeclared prescription drugs or steroids, send an e-mail about it to the FDA, at .

What Are The Symptoms Of Too Much Vitamin D

Is it Safe to Take 10,000 IUs of Vitamin D3?

Carly Snyder, MD is a reproductive and perinatal psychiatrist who combines traditional psychiatry with integrative medicine-based treatments.

Vitamin D is a key nutrient that helps your body absorb calcium to help build strong bones. Its also important for your immune system, nervous system, and muscles. A deficiency in this vitamin has also been linked to mental illnesses such as depression and seasonal affective disorder .

About 40% of Americans may be deficient in vitamin D, with Black and Hispanic adults facing the highest risk of deficiency. Many people can benefit from increasing their vitamin D intake to sufficient levels through sun exposure, diet changes, orif neededsupplementation as recommended by a physician.

While a deficiency of this nutrient is a very common problem, its also possiblebut rareto have too much vitamin D. Too much vitamin D, also known as vitamin D toxicity or hypervitaminosis D, can pose a number of serious health risks. This is why it’s important to discuss any supplementation with your doctor to ensure you aren’t ingesting a potentially harmful mega dose.

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Its Very Individual How Much Sun Exposure A Person Needs Roberta Bivins

Its very individual how much sun exposure a person needs during summer, depending on the pigment in the skin to the amount of fat in the body and how quickly your body makes new bone. Its incredibly complicated, she says.

Thats why the best way to determine if you have low vitamin D is not by symptoms alone, but with a blood test arranged through your medic.

Supplement levels

Then there is the question of exactly what level of supplementation people need. Reid says theres no danger in taking over-the-counter vitamin D of less than 25 nanomols per day.

US and Canada guidelines suggest taking 15 micrograms of vitamin D supplements each day, but some believe its not enough

But with supplements offering doses as high as 62.5 micrograms available over the counter, there are concerns around the risk of excessive vitamin D levels, which can, in rare cases, cause side effects, including nausea and vomiting. In the long term, some studies suggest too much vitamin D can increase risk of cardiovascular disease, although the research isnt conclusive.

But others argue that even more vitamin D is needed.

With such conflicting results, its unsurprising that medical experts themselves are deeply divided over the benefits of widespread supplementation. Some even argue that vested interests are propping up the billion-dollar vitamin industry, with Spector calling vitamin D supplements a pseudo-vitamin for a pseudo-disease.

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Not Getting Enough Vitamin D

We dont need vitamin D from food or sunlight every day. But if you dont get enough over a longer period of time, you wont have enough vitamin D for good health known as vitamin D deficiency. This is very common in the UK around one in five adults and one in six children dont have enough vitamin D.

Some people are more likely to have a vitamin D deficiency than others. Supplements and eating foods which contain vitamin D can help.

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The Risks Of Very Low Levels

Theres no question that additional vitamin D is helpful if someone is low or deficient, says F. Michael Gloth III, M.D., an associate professor in the division of geriatric medicine at Johns Hopkins Universitys medical school. But no trial has shown any benefit for giving vitamin D in any population thats already getting enough.

In 2018, long-awaited results from a study that looked at the effects of vitamin D and fish oil pills in more than 25,000 people ages 50 and older were published in The New England Journal of Medicine. Known as the VITAL trial, it found that taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D daily didnt cut cancer or cardiovascular risks compared with a placebo. But few of the people in the study had low blood levels of vitamin D.

Still, some research questions how helpful it is to raise low vitamin D levels. For example, doctors commonly recommend that older adults take vitamin D pills to help prevent falls and fractures. But a 2018 analysis of 81 studies, published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, failed to support this, although only a few of the trials included people with really low levels.

Moreover, too much vitamin D may actually contribute to fractures. A 2019 study published in JAMA found that people who took 4,000 or 10,000 IU a day saw a reduction in bone density compared with those who took 400 IU.

Can You Take Vitamin D

Is it safe to take calcium supplements?

Taken in appropriate doses, vitamin D is generally considered safe. However, taking too much vitamin D in the form of supplements can be harmful. Children age 9 years and older, adults, and pregnant and breastfeeding women who take more than 4,000 IU a day of vitamin D might experience: Nausea and vomiting.

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What Is Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is needed for calcium to be absorbed into your bones, says Dr. Inna Lukyanovsky, Pharm.D., functional medicine practitioner and the author of The Crohns and Colitis Fix.

Chirag Shah, MD, co-founder of Push Health, elaborates: Vitamin D is a type of molecule known as a secosteroid. Vitamin D is biologically active in the body and helps increase the absorption of electrolytes, including calcium and magnesium, from the gastrointestinal tract.

In other words, your bones cant absorb calcium without vitamin D. Thats why most cows milk sold in U.S. grocery stores is fortified with vitamin D. No matter how much of that great calcium you get from foods, your bones will be soft and brittle unless you also take in enough vitamin D to process it.

What To Know About The Risk Of Low Levels And Who Should Be Tested

Vitamin D has been promoted as a cure-all. You may have seen headlines claiming that taking vitamin D can help prevent or even treat COVID-19, but theres no solid science to support that yet. A paper recently published in BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health indicated that while everyone should strive to get enough of the vitamin, theres still a dearth of research showing a beneficial effect on COVID-19.

But there’s a connection between vitamin D levels and the risk of respiratory infections in general. The vitamin plays many roles throughout the body. It supports a range of antiviral responses, says Adrian Martineau, Ph.D., a clinical professor of respiratory infection and immunity at Queen Mary University of London. It boosts the ability of lung cells to fight bacteria and viruses, among other things, he says.

Martineau was the lead author of a 2017 analysis of 25 studies looking at the vitamin and respiratory illness. Published in BMJ, it involved almost 11,000 people of all ages, and concluded that taking a D supplement reduced the risk of having at least one respiratory tract infection. Those who were very deficient in the vitamin saw the most benefit.

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What Tests Can Reveal

The most common way to measure vitamin D levels is with a blood test for 25D , but its not perfect. There are many different versions of the test, and the results can vary, says Mark Moyad, M.D., director of complementary and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center, who specializes in studying vitamins, minerals, and supplements. You can get different results from different labs and even after multiple tests at the same lab.

Many of us in geriatrics, for better or worse, do screen and do treat vitamin D deficiencies, says Veronica Rivera, M.D., an assistant professor of geriatrics and palliative medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She admits that the evidence about testing and treatment is unclear. If Im doing yearly labs on someone, I may add it in. If theyre having falls, I may check it. If someone has osteoporosis or osteopenia, I would definitely screen, she says. The evidence is still conflicting, but I think the safe approach is to keep everyone at sufficient levels and to make it easy.

Another confounding factor is that normal D levels may differ depending on skin color. We make vitamin D when our skin is exposed to sunlight. Darker skin makes it harder to synthesize the vitamin, leading to lower levels, but researchers are still trying to understand the health implications of that and the need for supplements.


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