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Questions for Dr. Kennedy
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Vitamin D and hypercalcemia
Posted by: Mark
Date: February 23, 2006 12:55 AM

I feel that the risk of vitamin D toxicity is not being presented strongly enough along with the recommendations for its supplementation. Several months ago, after doing some research, I started taking 2000 IU/day, 5 times the recommended 400 IU. After 6 weeks, I began to experience extreme muscle weakness, hypertension, angina, and strange thoughts/hallucinations. I didn't realize until after a trip to my pediatrician (yes, I'm 23 and still see a pediatrician) that after such a short period of using vitamin D that I could develop symptoms of its toxicity. From what I had read, I thought that this dosage was far below what my body would produce naturally from the sun. I realize that yes, most people living in northern latitudes could probably benefit from vitamin D. There are certainly disease states in which vitamin D may be therapeutic, such as cancer and hypoparathyroidism. However, among the general population the risk of hypercalcemia is real and is not something to be taken lightly. I feel that until many studies are done on high doses of vitamin D for the general population, intakes above the recommended dosage should not be advised.

RE: Vitamin D and hypercalcemia
Posted by: Ron Kennedy, M.D.
Date: February 23, 2006 1:05 AM

Thank you. I will leave your comments up for anyone who wants to read them. It is true that many people are now on "high" dose vitamin D. I have taken 50,000 units in one dose per week over the last 8 months without any noticeable side effects. It is said that a good dose of sunlight produces up to 20,000 units of vitamin D, but the sun also begins to break down vitamin D after a 20 minute exposure, a mechanism protecting against solar overdosing of vitamin D. It may be that some people are already producing and consuming lots of vitamin D, and those people should not take high doses. Testing for blood levels should precede treatment.



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