What is Hypervitaminosis D?
Hypervitaminosis D is a rare medical condition that develops when a person takes excessive vitamin D in form of high dose supplements and this condition can become life threatening too.(5)
Excessive vitamin D leads to increased levels of calcium in the blood affecting tissues, bones and other organs.(4) Hypervitaminosis D, if not treated, can also result in hypertension, bone loss and damage to the kidneys.
What are the Causes of Hypervitaminosis D?
People generally do not get sufficient vitamin D from their foods and from sun exposure; and this is why they resort to taking vitamin D supplements to get their required amount of this important vitamin(5). Hypervitaminosis D is commonly caused by taking more than the recommended dosage of vitamin D(5). Other than this, certain prescription medications for hypertension and heart diseases can also cause increase in levels of vitamin D in the blood.
The use of tanning bed also has been reported to be a cause of hypervitaminosis D.(1)
Other than this, people who have been taking antacids for a long time and women undergoing estrogen therapy, and people taking medication for tuberculosis, such as isoniazid, can also suffer from Hypervitaminosis D.
How Much is the Recommended Dietary Allowance of Vitamin D(3)?
According to the Mayo Clinic, the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin D is 600 international units a day (IU) for adults. Physicians may prescribe increased doses of vitamin D for treating certain conditions like diabetes, vitamin D deficiency and cardiovascular disease only for short term duration. Taking vitamin D supplements in high doses daily for many months is toxic.
What Conditions Increase Your Risk For Developing Hypervitaminosis D?
People who take vitamin D supplements and who suffer from certain health conditions are more likely to suffer from Hypervitaminosis D and these medical conditions include: liver disease, kidney disease, hyperparathyroidism, tuberculosis, histoplasmosis and sarcoidosis.
What are the Symptoms of Hypervitaminosis D(2)?
There are increased levels of calcium in the blood due to excessive vitamin D in the body and this leads to development of hypercalcemia that produces symptoms, such as: loss of appetite, fatigue, excessive thirst, weight loss, constipation, excessive urination, dehydration, tinnitus, nervousness, irritability, muscle weakness, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, hypertension, disorientation, confusion and heart arrhythmias(2).
What Happens If Hypervitaminosis D Is Not Treated?
Untreated hypervitaminosis D consists of long-term complications of that include: kidney damage, kidney stones, excess bone loss, abnormal heart rhythms, calcification of soft tissues and arteries; and kidney failure.
How to Diagnose Hypervitaminosis D?
The patient’s medical history and physical exam is taken. The doctor will also assess the prescription and over-the-counter supplements and medications that the patient is taking.
Tests which are done to diagnose Hypervitaminosis D include:
- Blood tests are done to check the levels of vitamin D, phosphorus mad calcium and to find out if there is any kidney damage.
- Urine tests are done to check for excessive quantity of calcium in the urine.
- X-rays of the bones are taken to determine any significant bone loss.
What is the Treatment for Hypervitaminosis D?
Treatment for Hypervitaminosis D consists of immediately stopping the intake of vitamin D supplements. Patient is also told to temporarily cut down the calcium content in the diet. The patients in some cases can be given bisphosphonates or corticosteroids to suppress calcium release from bones. There will be regular monitoring of vitamin D levels by the doctor till they return to normal.
Tips to Prevent Hypervitaminosis D
- In order to prevent hypervitaminosis D, always consult your doctor regarding the dosage and the duration of the vitamin D supplements that you are taking.
- It is also recommended to cut down the amount of calcium intake in food to prevent Hypervitaminosis D and until the vitamin D levels are back to normal.
To prevent Hypervitaminosis D, it is better to get 10 minutes of daily sun exposure and to consume foods that are rich in vitamin D naturally, such as fatty fish, cod liver oil, liver, beef, egg yolks, cheese and certain mushrooms.(2)
There are also foods available that are fortified with vitamin D, such as orange juice, milk and yogurt that you can take instead of supplements.(2)