A man overdosed on vitamin D supplements, and now he has permanent kidney damage

Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via Getty ImagesVitamin D overdoses are rare, but can lead to nausea, vomiting, weakness, bone pain, and kidney issues.
  • A 54-year-old man went to the hospital after experiencing kidney issues. Doctors found he had dangerously high levels of calcium and vitamin D in his blood, according to a case report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).
  • The patient had a family history of polycystic kidney disease, but he didn’t have the disease, leading doctors to believe his high intake of vitamin D caused the symptoms.
  • Vitamin D overdoses are rare, but can lead to nausea, vomiting, weakness, bone pain, and kidney issues.
  • Existing research shows that nutritional supplements offer no additional health benefits for already healthy people.
  • Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more.

Vitamin D supplements are often touted for a supposed ability to boost mood and increase bone strength, but a new case study demonstrates the dangers of taking too much of the vitamin.

After a 54-year-old man returned form a trip where he spent upwards of eight hours a day sunbathing, doctors found he had unusually high amounts of calcium and vitamin D in his blood that were causing kidney problems, according to a case study in Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

The man reported that he had gout, hypertension, and a family history of polycystic kidney disease. That’s when doctors asked the patient about his supplement use. He shared that he had been taking between eight and 12 drops of vitamin D daily for the past 2.5 years.

According to the Mayo Clinic, if a person has 60,000 IUs of vitamin D daily for months on end, it can lead to toxicity, which is characterised by nausea, vomiting, bone pain, and kidney problems.

On average, the man was consuming 8,000 to 12,000 IUs of vitamin D every day, leading to symptoms including decreased kidney function, an uncomfortable and constant itchy feeling, fatigue, and bone pain. They determined that his extreme intake of vitamin D was causing his calcium blood levels to skyrocket, and recommended he stop taking the supplements right away.

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Doctors gave the man hydroxychloroquine, a medication usually used to treat autoimmune diseases, in order to help his body return to normal. The patient took the medication for a year, but was left with permanent chronic kidney disease, according to the report.

Research suggests that nutritional supplements like vitamin D offer few health benefits to already healthy people. Most people can get their daily recommended amounts of nutrients through food.

Before taking any nutritional supplements, you should consult your healthcare provider about potential risks. Certain groups, like elderly people, those with darker skin, and people who live in areas with little sunlight could potentially benefit from vitamin D, according to the National Capital Poison Center, but supplements aren’t necessary for everyone.

If you think you’re experiencing vitamin D toxicity, call poison control immediately.

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