- The man was reportedly taking more than 20 high-dose supplements
- Tests revealed he had seven times more vitamin D than the recommended levels
- Hypervitaminosis D is still "uncommon," but the trend is increasing
A man ended up in hospital for eight days after he overdosed on vitamin D, doctors said in a case report. The case sheds light on the possible consequences of excessive vitamin D intake.
The case was that an unnamed middle-aged man who was reportedly taking over 20 high-dose over-the-counter supplements, the British Medical Journal (The BMJ) noted in a news release. This included taking 2,000 mg of "vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B6, omega-3" twice a day when the daily requirement is just 200-500 mg, and 50,000 mg of vitamin D when the daily requirement is just 600 mg.
The man was admitted to a hospital with nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, tinnitus, diarrhea and a 28-lb weight loss. The symptoms reportedly started showing a month after he began taking the supplements under the advice of a nutritional therapist. The symptoms didn't go away even after he stopped taking them and even went on for three months.
Test results showed the man had been taking seven times higher amount of Vitamin D than the recommended intake, and he also had "very high" calcium levels, according to the BMJ. Vitamin D helps to absorb calcium, but having too much of it can cause "excessive absorption" and lead to "excessively high" blood calcium levels (hypercalcemia), Healthline explained. This may lead to other "potentially dangerous symptoms."
In the case of the patient, for instance, tests revealed that he had "acute kidney injury." Kidney problems, along with other symptoms such as hallucinations and heart abnormalities, are also symptoms of hypercalcemia. According to the Mayo Clinic, hypercalcemia is the "main consequence" of vitamin D toxicity (hypervitaminosis D).
The man ended up at the hospital for eight days. Although his calcium levels returned to normal some two months after the hospital stay, his vitamin D levels remained "abnormally high."
Although it is still rather "uncommon," people may not be aware that it's possible to overdose on vitamin D, the authors of the case study noted.
"This case report further highlights the potential toxicity of supplements that are largely considered safe until taken in unsafe amounts or in unsafe combinations," they wrote.
People can get vitamin D from foods such as oily fish, egg yolks and even fortified foods such as breakfast cereals. They can also meet their vitamin D requirements by having exposure to sunlight.
"You cannot overdose on vitamin D through exposure to sunlight," noted the U.K.'s National Health Service. "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."