Thursday, December 11, 2008

Overdosing on Vitamin D: Side Effects, Toxicity, Symptoms, Poisoning

I promised to write one column about the side effects of vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B3 (niacin, niacinamide), vitamin C, and vitamin D (cholecalciferol). Deficiency in these five vitamins causes death and disability from vitamin A deficiency, beri beri, pellagra, scurvy, and rickets respectively. I’m going to start with vitamin D because there is an urgent need to understand vitamin D better.

Vitamin D is a hormone. It is not found in food in high levels. It is difficult to obtain 1000 IU/day of vitamin D from food. Agricultural workers and lifeguards will produce 20,000 to 50,0000 IU/day in the skin. Hormones are well understood to be remarkably effective drugs. Powerful hormones such as human growth hormone have been shown to have remarkable beneficial effects. This hormone, however, is rarely used because, it is highly dangerous. Steroids to promote muscle growth are known to be dangerous. Hormones for birth control are known to be dangerous. I think it is safe to say that most hormones are dangerous when taken as a drug. Why would anyone expect vitamin D to be different?

Lots of people who expected to be healthy, and worked hard to live a healthy life, are none the less struggling with their health. These folks have tested the "healthy" lifestyles (low fat, low carbs, vegetarian, vegan, exercise three times/week, meditation, religion...) Despite all the testing, I didn't know what to do. It seemed to me that all the theories were wrong. That's what I like about the implications of vitamin D. It has led to a theory that I don't think has been tested. Western life has led us to spend more and more of our time indoors. Indoor life deprives us of sunlight, which causes permanent low levels of two blockbuster hormones - vitamin D and melatonin, and cause permanent low levels of at least one other hormone, various neuropeptides, endorphins, and probably some other things I haven't found yet. Indoor life exposes us to indoor air pollution, and probably is a root cause of other behaviors that are known to be bad for health.

I’ve been hesitant to write this column because I don't want to stop people from taking vitamin D as I believe that vitamin D supplements are doing more good than harm. That said, vitamin D supplements are hormones in a bottle and are obviously dangerous at doses above the upper safe limit of 2000 IU/day set by the Food and Nutrition Board. The other harm the supplements are doing, is sending the message that pills are a safe and effective substitute for sunshine. I'm sure this is true for some people. But what about everyone else? Is the strategy really to use the power of evolution to select for success only children who do the best living in minimal sunlight? Don't believe in evolution these days? One in 6 couples are outright infertile, and the fertility medicine business is booming. Whether from pills or sunshine, optimizing vitamin D will benefit your health. I believe that sunshine is a better way, but not everyone has the luxury of getting regular sunshine, and not everyone needs regular sunshine. Everyone, however, needs vitamin D.

Vitamin D is is acutely toxic in overdose. A single dose, sufficiently large, is lethal. This dose is determined by scientists by feeding dogs and rats. The data from the dogs and rats indicates that a single dose of vitamin D above 150,000,000 IU (150 million IU) is lethal. It is virtually impossible for a consumer to take a dose like this. In fact, vitamin D is so safe that it is sold in bottles without childproof caps. In the past, I purchased large bottles of 1000 IU vitamin D tablets that contain 300 tablets. If I swallowed the entire bottle, I’d be taking 300,000 IU of vitamin D. I’d have to swallow 50 entire bottles at once to reach the lethal dose.

That said, vitamin D is impressively toxic. 1000 mg (a standard dosage for a single vitamin C pill) is a lethal dose for the average person. 1000 mg is 40,000,000 (forty million) IU. The fifty bottles of 1000 IU vitamin D pills mentioned above would weigh in the ballpark of 2500 g. A typical vitamin D tablet weighs 150 mg and is >99.9% filling. This makes safely handling vitamin D challenging. All human processes are subject to error. Some 1000 IU pills will occasionally be formulated with >10,000 IU of vitamin D. The unluckly consumer taking poorly manufactured vitamin D supplements can experience "unexplainable" side effects since everyone usually will assume that the consumer is ingesting the dose listed on the bottle label.

Again, vitamin D is impressively toxic. So much so that scientists specializing in mammalian pest control turned to vitamin D as a safe and effective poison. Just type "vitamin D rat poison" into google and you'll see that you can purchase a rat poison that uses vitamin D as the active ingredient. The poisonous food (the "bait") is typically close to 1 part in 1 thousand vitamin D. Truth can truly be stranger than fiction. While vitamin D3 advocates are writing that vitamin D3 is non-toxic, exterminators are advertising vitamin D3 as a safe and effective poison for killing mice and rats! What makes it so strange is that vitamin D is surprisingly non-toxic while at the same time being an effective rat and mouse poison. It is, in fact, absurdly non-toxic for an acute poison! Honestly, I'm left speechless.

From a practical perspective, death from taking large doses of vitamin D is not a concern (unless you are a mouse or rat and the exterminator is after you!). The practical concern is toxicity caused by ordinary doses of vitamin D, taken regularly. Ordinary doses can build up in the body over time and cause serious illness. The most serious concern is a small increase in the risk of heart attack and stroke amongst the elderly. This concern was raised a long time ago without much evidence to support it. The evidence is reviewed in a book called "The Right Dose, How to Take Vitamins and Minerals Safely." I felt the data was insufficient to warrant inclusion in this blog post. Now, new independent data reaches similar conclusions using a completely different line of reasoning. The older data directly associated the risk of heart attack with vitamin D dosage. The new data associates the risk of stroke with vitamin D dosage. Vitamin D should be expected to act systemically on veins and arteries so it makes sense that if vitamin D increases the risk of heart attacks it also would increase the risk of stroke.

This allegation sounds serious, and it is. However, the reported elevated risks remain associated with high doses of vitamin D from food (1000 IU and less have no association with these problems) and are small increases in risk. Cavities, osteoporosis, repetitive motion pains, and other joint and ligament pains are epidemic amongst the elderly. The hypothesis that these problems can be prevented by sun exposure has never been tested (and never will since a double-blind trial of sunshine is impossible). That remains the second point - there is no evidence of any association between sunshine, stroke, and heart attack. There is a clear message: get vitamin D from sunshine. Sunlight is also known to alleviate/eliminate allergies, to cause special cells in the skin to produce the alpha melanocyte stimulating hormone (so sunshine has been proven by science to cause the produce of at least three hormones!), to cause the production of a couple of neuropeptides, and to cause the release of endorphins. So while you're in the sun getting vitamin D, you'll also be producing a variety of other regulatory chemicals essential for optimal health.

I'll give my view again here a different way. Most people will obtain far more benefits from 0-4000 IU/day of vitamin D from food/supplements than harm. That said, the risks are well documented. There are no well documented cases of vitamin D side effects caused by sunshine producing too much vitamin D in the skin. There are plenty of known risks from overdoses of sunshine. Acute sun overexposure has been practiced as a form of execution.

Back to the well documented side effects. Not surprisingly, the Mayo Clinic is an excellent source I've found on-line for vitamin D side effects. Here is their list:

Late symptoms of severe overdose (emerge after months or years of starting supplements)

High blood pressure
High fever
Irregular heartbeat
Stomach pain (severe)

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

Early symptoms of overdose (emerge within days or weeks of starting vitamin D supplements)

Bone pain
Constipation (especially in children or adolescents)
Dryness of mouth
Headache (continuing)
Increased thirst
Increase in frequency of urination, especially at night, or in amount of urine
Irregular heartbeat
Itching skin
Loss of appetite
Metallic taste
Muscle pain
Nausea or vomiting (especially in children or adolescents)
Unusual tiredness or weakness

Late symptoms of overdose (emerge within weeks or months of starting supplements)

Bone pain
Calcium deposits (hard lumps) in tissues outside of the bone
Cloudy urine
Increased sensitivity of eyes to light or irritation of eyes
Itching of skin
Loss of appetite
Loss of sex drive
Mood or mental changes
Muscle pain
Nausea or vomiting
Protein in the urine
Redness or discharge of the eye, eyelid, or lining of the eyelid
Runny nose
Weight loss

What regular dose of a vitamin D supplement will cause side effects? Some people are very sensitive to daily vitamin D dosing. Vitamin D was meant to be gotten from the sun, not from pills. There are no known side effects from sunshine. Side effects from pills are common. This makes dosing recommendations for vitamin D pills particularly hard. Rats have evolved to thrive on incredibly small amounts of vitamin D (hundreds of times less than humans). It is highly likely that different groups of people - and different individuals within a single group of people, have widely different vitamin D needs. Some people are like rats and can thrive in the dark. Others will need regular sunshine to thrive. There isn't enough information yet, and none is needed. Get your vitamin D from the sun. Even if you can thrive in the dark, you can thrive in the sunshine too. Sunshine is generally recognized as safe.

I don't recommend blood testing of vitamin D levels. I don't think anyone knows what it means. If you are getting plenty of sunshine, you are getting plenty of vitamin D. Only a tiny fraction of people will not be able to get plenty of vitamin D from sunshine, and will require supplements. Today, Doctors are measuring blood levels of vitamin D and concluding that low levels require supplements (instead of sunshine). Many of these people are taking the supplements and being harmed. If you don't believe me, read the comment section below.

Stories can be more helpful than lists. The best case history I know of is from an outstanding book called “The Right Dose, How to Take Vitamins and Minerals Safely.” A family of ten all drank regularly from a condensed milk product given to them by a friend. This condensed milk turned out to be a product used commercially by the milk industry to fortify milk with vitamin D. The family members were, on average, most likely taking somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 IU/day of vitamin D. Here is the relevant excerpt from the case report:

“A male patient was admitted to the Dept. of Pediatrics of the Cook County Hospital because of nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and abdominal pain. Anorexia began three weeks prior to admission, followed by vomiting which was associated with vague intermittent abdominal pain. During the week prior to admission, he started to have severe nausea with frequent vomiting and was unable to attend school. He lost 11 pounds of weight during this period. Muscle weakness and frequency of urination were noted. The child’s 35 year old mother was admitted simultaneously, with severe abdominal pain, anorexia, vomiting, and weight loss of two weeks’ duration. The patient was thin, moderately dehydrated, and appeared chronically ill.”

This case report was a fantastic piece of good luck. Obviously, an experiment like this can’t be designed. It had to happen by accident. The reason it was such good luck, was that it also illustrates why vitamin D toxicity is so controversial. Eight other members of this same family took similar levels of vitamin D over this period and “did not become ill”. Eighty percent of this family was able to take between 50,000 and 100,000 IU of vitamin D for 6 weeks with no ill effects. No wonder the two patients kept on drinking the milk long after they fell seriously ill. Why would they suspect the “condensed milk” when everyone was drinking it and was fine?

According to the book, the symptoms in the case report are “classic signs” of vitamin D overdose. Here’s the write-up on the full list of classic symptoms:

“Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, headache, dry mouth, abdominal or bone pain, and dizziness are the classic symptoms of vitamin D toxicity. As the condition progresses, signs of impaired kidney function, such as excessive urination, may arise. Itching, calcification of organs and blood vessels, osteoporosis, and seizures are still other signs that develop at the later stages.” Note the excellent overlap with the more comprehensive list from the Mayo Clinic.

Readers are never going to take 50,000 to 100,000 IU per day of vitamin D. No one recommends sustained doses in this range. So, what’s the best evidence that doses in the range of normal can also be toxic? The best evidence comes from the experience of the British physicians who worked out the recommended daily doses for vitamin D back in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Rickets among babies and toddlers was a major problem in England before the milk supply was fortified with vitamin D. Today, one cup of milk is fortified with 100 IU of vitamin D. The British started out with by fortifying milk at about double this level (200 IU per cup). The program succeeded in eliminating rickets among families that drank fortified milk. Unfortunately, the program made significant numbers of children ill and had to be adjusted down to the current level. Tragically, the present dose doesn’t protect all children from rickets.

The problem with milk fortification is that not only is there a wide range of sensitivity to vitamin D, there is also a wide range of intake. In my opinion, this data suggests that sensitive individuals develop vitamin D side effects from daily use of 1000 to 2000 IU of vitamin D. For example, my son drinks an average of 2 to 3 quarts of milk every day. This means he gets between 800 and 1200 IU of vitamin D from milk and then probably averages over the course of the year another 400 IU/day from sun exposure. The babies in Britain showing up with vitamin D side effect were probably getting plenty of sunshine and drinking plenty of fortified milk. My sense that 1000 to 2000 IU regularly causes side effects was reinforced by a thorough internet search for advice on vitamin D supplement programs from clinicians who help clients put together supplement programs. I found several clinician reports of 2000 IU/day doses leading to problems after months of use. My concerns have been further reinforced by comments below.

If you’ve been reading my column, and reading the information at the Vitamin D Council website, you’ll know that 1000 to 2000 IU/day is often not enough. So, the hard facts are that there is no known dose of vitamin D supplement that provides everyone with full benefits without causing anyone side effects.

I read all the information summarized above before I started taking vitamin D. Sadly, this information about specific symptoms was not very useful to me. What was most useful to me was what I read between the lines. I felt that the words of advice from experienced clinicians expressed a deep-seated unease with vitamin D supplements.

With that unease in mind, I chose to supplement with 4000 IU per day of vitamin D, fully expecting to experience side effects. So, from here on the story is based on my personal experience. The initial draft of my column read, "It will take time to tell how relevant my experiences have been." Time has passed and the feedback from readers indicates that my experiences are relevant.

I have not experienced any symptoms bad enough to require any treatment, or to cancel any plans, or even to go to bed early. I experienced no side effects for three months at 4000 IU/day. For the past 10 months I’ve been alternating between vitamin D abstinence for 1 to 2 weeks and supplementation for 1 day. Some of the time, instead of supplements, I sunbath in shorts at noon for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Every time I take even just one 1000 IU supplement I experience side effects. So, I’m confident that for me, the following side effects are caused by vitamin D. I updated this item in December, 2009, a second time in October, 2010, and now a third time in May, 2011. For the past 29 months I have gotten almost all my vitamin D from sunshine. I lie in the sun at noon for between 5 and 20 minutes 9 out of ten sunny days here at latitude 40 N. Many claim that there is insufficient UV intensity at 40 N in the winter to produce vitamin D. This view is incorrect. It is possible to get UV index data from nearby weather stations at popular weather websites. Where I live, the UV index ranges from 3 at the winter solstice to 11 at the summer solstice. This means that it takes four times longer to get equivalent UV at solar noon in the middle of the winter. There are on regular occasions multiple successive days when I can't get into the sun in the middle of the day. At first I responded by taking one or two 1000 IU tablets during these days. Each time I experienced unpleasant side effects from the supplement strongly suggesting that the sunshine is keeping me on the edge of overdose. So I completely stopped taking supplements. On several occasions I came down with a cold during these short periods without sun or supplements. In response, I've been finding ways to get even more vitamin D from the sun. Whenever I smell even the whiff of a cold, I now get into the sun several times in the same day. 5 to 10 minutes of noontime sun is all I can manage in the summer without becoming uncomfortable (feeling like I'm starting to overheat my skin). I have found, however, that by staying out of the sun for just an hour enables me to sun again for several minutes without any discomfort. On an extreme day I have done this four times. A big surprise for me was that the extra sun exposure has not made me any more tan. Despite getting lots of sun, I maintain only a faint tan. This is what I want since I'm trying to make alot of vitamin D. More recently I bought a sunlamp so that I can get vitamin D from light whenever I feel I could benefit from more vitamin D and I don't ever feel the need to take another supplement. I don't recommend the use of sunlamps and tanning beds because I don't have any information about the safety of this approach, and I only use the sunlamp when there is no sunshine.

Again, I have not found any prior documents asserting that side effects from vitamin D supplements are related to the amount of vitamin D made from the sun. So I wasn't expecting to suffer from vitamin D supplements as I got more vitamin D from the sun. But, I did. As time has passed, I'm getting more and more sun with fewer side effects. I still occasionally take a supplement. I took one just last week and felt the side effects immediately. The impact of the supplement was gone in less than 48 hours. I've come to the conclusion that some of the vitamin D side effects I experience, I only get when I am fighting a cold. I'm not sure these should really count as side effects since they may be how cold symptoms feel to people like me getting plenty of sunshine.

Enough of that. Here are the side effects that I feel aren't well described on the Mayo Clinic list:

1) Irritable lungs. For example, when I breath in alcohol vapors I need to cough. When I drink my coffee in the morning I need to cough (probably a reaction to the caffeine).

2) Sensation in the teeth. I feel my teeth. I can’t decide if this is good or bad. What is definitely bad is that when I switch from warm food to a cool drink I get nasty electric shocks in my teeth. Rarely I have experienced tooth-ache like pain as a result of chilling my teeth with cold air or cold food. This pain lasts for 10 or fifteen minutes.

3) Bone pain in the fourth finger on my left hand. This is very strange. Often within minutes of taking a vitamin D supplement, I notice a slight pain in the fourth finger of my left hand and nowhere else. I first experienced this feeling while taking 4000 IU/day and, at that dose, the pain got quite severe on the last day I took that dose.

4) Nausea with fatigue.

5) Ringing ears.

6) Chest pain and heart sensations. I find this to be the worst and most alarming side effect. It caused me to shun all forms of vitamin D for two months. I went for a full cardiac workout and blood testing. I was informed that I’m in terrific health. Like the bone pain, for me this side effect is more severe from supplements than from sunshine.

7) Insomnia. Vitamin D will make me fatigued during the day while at the same time it sometimes causes me to wake up near 4 am in the morning. I have alot of trouble falling back to sleep and sometimes get up between 5 and 6 instead of between 6:30 and 7:00.

8) A bad mood. Vitamin D is known to have psychological effects. It is supposed to improve mood. I’m really uncomfortable with listing this as a side effect because it is so subjective. The other side effects are sufficient to put me in a bad mood. But my gut tells me it is worse than that and that the excess vitamin D is actually causing a feeling of doom. As time passes, I've become aware of more reports of feelings of doom.

The following side effects have just emerged in April 2009. They are perfectly described on the Mayo Clinic list:

9) Discharge of the eye, eyelid, and lining of the eyelid

10) Increased sensitivity of eyes to light or irritation of eyes

These early side effects are totally harmless if recognized as such and acted upon. When vitamin D supplementation is stopped, they fade away in a few days. So, it isn’t that hard to manage as long as you are willing to pay attention to how you feel and not worry about the minor discomfort.

Unfortunately, even here I have to add a word of caution. Staying out of the sun and stopping vitamin D supplements from bottles is not enough for everyone. There is a small subset of the population that drinks a lot of milk. Each cup of milk contains 100 IU of vitamin D. One quart is 400 IU – a large fraction of the 1000 IU tablets that are causing me trouble.

Every report I was able to read about vitamin D claimed that overdosing from sun exposure is unknown. This remains true. It is one of the reasons I'm overdosing. I simply can't believe that every expert writing about vitamin D side effects is wrong. Especially when for me, overdosing from the sun is easy. Amazingly, I have to conclude that almost no one has tried to overdose from the sun (avoid tanning and get into the noon sun for 5 to 30 minutes of full body exposure). I experience a different severity order from the sun than from the supplements. The really distinctive signs – my finger and my heart – are almost unnoticeable from sun overdose. The fatigue and nausea are much worse – and much harder to say with certainty are from vitamin D and not a bad breakfast or a virus or any of the hundreds of other causes of nausea and fatigue. The only side effect with similar severity from both the sun and supplements is the feelings in my teeth. Since I first wrote this the feelings in my teeth have subsided and I rarely get shocks from drinking cold fluids. Now my eyes are more sensitive than my teeth. Maybe this will fade with time to be replaced by yet a different first side effect. It seems impossible to "line out" a vitamin D dose. After three years of wrestling with supplements and sunshine, I've rid myself of some of the most annoying early side effects only to have them replaced by different side effects. I'm now past three years, and am finally having less trouble with side effects from sunshine. As I mentioned above, I discovered that some "side effects" are actually caused by cold viruses and not the sunshine. Most of the others have stopped altogether, or are so mild that it's hard to call them side effects. I'm truly amazed that this process of continual change has gone on for over three years.

Vitamin D is an amazing nutrient. Used in optimal doses, it has incredible potential for improving human health. The early side effects of vitamin D are mild and a blessing. They enable you to find the maximum dose you can take without experiencing the terrible side effects described in the case report and comments below. Don’t let fear of side effects stop you from enjoying the full benefits of vitamin D.

Afterward: I track the impact of what I write by searching on Google. When I type "vitamin D side effects" into Google, this column usually comes up in the first 30 hits no matter what computer I search from. The success of this column challenges paradigms about influence and credibility, and I believe there are some general lessons to be learned. Effort and experience can lead to excellence without formal training in an area. I didn't become a world expert in vitamin D side effects by studying books and papers (although I studied and studied and studied books and papers), or by being unusually smart. I became an expert because I'm in desperate need of methods to strengthen an immune system unusually vulnerable to the common cold. As it is, despite all the benefits I get from vitamins A, B1, B3, C, and sunshine, until very recently I have still been frequently ill - and sometimes seriously ill for short periods. It has been to save myself that I have become an expert user of vitamins A, B1, B3, C and sunshine. For the first time in 15 years, I've become optimistic that I may, indeed, at long last, have saved myself. I believe that sunshine, indeed, has been the key, but not by producing vitamin D alone. Sunshine is also responsible for regulating the pineal gland. The pineal gland's main function is to control the circadian rhythm by secreting melatonin. The amplitude of the melatonin "wave" is a function of the difference between the brightest light in the day and the night time darkness. Four months ago I learned about this and started to stare at the sky whenever I was outside during the day. When sunning at noontime, looking up at the sky is painful because the light is so intense - that's why most people are wearing some kind of sunglasses. Amazingly, almost as soon as I started I began to sleep much better at night. Quality sleep is essential for a normal metabolism and for enabling certain aspects of healing. I haven't had much in the way of a cold since I started staring at the sky, and have been flying on airplanes without fear for the first time in over 20 years. Sunlight produces at least one more hormone, causes the production of several neuropeptides, and stimulates the release of endorphins. I expect to learn of yet other positive health effects. These results have me shocked, and, frankly, frightened. I don't know anyone who stares at the sky to improve their circadian rhythm and improve their sleep quality. Everyone I know avoids staring at the sky and a majority wear dark glasses in the summer. Everyone I know is spending more and more time inside, and is becoming less and less tolerant of heat and cold (and therefore spending more and more time fully dressed). I'm staring at the sun and going out in shorts and a T-shirt in an ever wider temperature range. These are polar opposite behaviors to the mainstream. They can not both be optimal. Either I'm right and everyone else is wrong, or everyone else is right and I'm wrong. But I can't stop myself from staring at the sky because I have really powerful feelings telling me that I need to stare at the sky to remain healthy. If I'm right, I am living amidst pandemic deficiency, and I have knowledge and experience from which most other people can benefit. I hope that this post on vitamin D enhances my credibility, and that you'll consider benefiting from my struggles by using sunshine, antibiotics and vitamins with care to enable your growing children to reach their full potential, and to prevent obesity, diabetes, hypertension, osteoporosis, and heart disease from afflicting yourself and your loved ones.


At 11:27 AM, Blogger Bobber said...

Thanks for this very good and well thought out post. I have been using vitamin D supplements for a couple of years. In the summer I may take 2000 IU a day but it may be irregular. If I am out in the sun a lot, I may lay off the supplements. Starting in the mid to late fall, I start supplementing regularly. I take 2000 IU in the morning with breakfast and 2000 IU at night with dinner. This week I started feeling a bit of a cold coming on and last night I got up and took another 2000 IU so this is about 6000 IU in a 24 hour period.

I have not noticed any of the side effects you describe other than my teeth are a bit sensitive to cold. I recently had one tooth crowned and it is extremely sensitive.

My wife also generally follows my regiment with vitamin D. She is from the Philippines and has a somewhat darker completion. She has never reported any side effects.

At 2:26 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Hmm. In agreement with my post, apparently the teeth sensitivity is an early symptom for you too.

Your supplement strategy is complex - taking alot of vitamin D in the winter and laying off in the summer. And your strategy involves substantial doses - 4000 to 6000 IU per day. And if you were to react like me, your doses put you at the threshold of more serious side effects. Is this really a coincidence? Why haven't you taken 4000 IU in the morning and 4000 IU in the evening?

This kind of thinking gets me going. Why do we think that steady daily doses is best? I've been using a "burst" strategy. High doses when the sun is shining and I have time to get out interspersed with none. 1000 IU doses by tablet or none.

Vitamin D is fat soluble and available dissolved in oils. Why not apply it topically instead of swallowing it? There's a long way to go before we completely master the use of vitamin D.

At 1:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you had your vitamin d levels measured?

At 8:50 PM, Blogger Cheryl said...

I have just been diagnosed with advanced osteoporosis and hashimoto's disease. My doctor said my vitamin d levels are severly low and has put me on 50,000 IU once a week for 1 month and every other week there after. I'm scared of the side effects but thanks to these blogs I'm going for it. Thanks!

At 5:08 PM, Blogger David said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 8:45 PM, Blogger Steve said...


I experienced some sharp chest pains all over the middle of my chest.

It is hard to describe these feelings accurately. It would be fair to say I felt like my heard was struggling to beat, and pounding.

For me, there is no doubt this is a vitamin D side effect. After I go out in the sun, I often feel minor versions of these symptoms.

Please write back to confirm that your heart symptoms faded away as your vitamin D levels dropped down.

Thanks again for leaving your comment

At 12:09 AM, Blogger David said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 1:07 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for writing. In our recent e-mail exchange, you also mentioned a psychiatric problem - an experience resembling a panic attack that occurred twice during the course of a night's sleep.

Over the course of the years, I've experienced many unusual feelings including panic and euphoria. They are usually not reproducible.

You are looking for the vitamin D to be causing a real physical problem with your sternum, your heart, or some other body part. My personal belief is that many vitamin side effect symptoms are purely neurological. They effect parts of the brain and nervous system responsible for monitoring body parts. False signals are sent to or created in the brain, making us feel like something is wrong when nothing is actually wrong. That's why my heart felt bad but tested perfectly (EKG, heart monitor, stress test) when I went for a full cardiac check up as a result of vitamin D induced feelings.

I've become astonished to learn that these heart symptoms are considered rare. I'm now certain this means that very few people are getting plenty of vitamin D. I am experiencing heart symptoms, my wife is experiencing heart symptoms, and you are experiencing heart symptoms. This means that most of the people I know who are getting extra vitamin D (>1000 IU per day), are experiencing heart symptoms.

I'm sure that many people are trying vitamin D and quitting because of side effects without every talking to their doctors or to their friends and family. Shame on us all! Thanks David, for helping me bring this basic, important information into the light of day.

A final word. Vitamin D is indeed highly toxic in overdose. The doses you report are very high. When your symptoms have disappeared and you have fully recovered from your overdose, I strongly recommend minimizing supplements (<1000 IU/day) and getting extra vitamin D from the sun instead.

Come on back to the blog with more thoughts.

At 12:34 AM, Blogger Shelly said...

My vit d level was 7.8. I have been on 50,000IU 3X per week since mid Jan. Initially I lost about7 lbs and really do feel much better. I am concerned though with the fact it was so low to begin with. My insulin like growth factor was also low, and RDW very slightly high. I won't see the MD again until April 15th.

At 1:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could red swollen hive like splotches on the face be from taking Vitamin D 50000IU This is my 5th week taking it and now for the last 2 weeks my face is really itchy and it feels dehydrated tight like with hive like swollen bright red patches. The left is worse and that is the side I sleep on. I am a lupus patient I guess I could just be having flair up, but not use to having anything this bad on my face. Just wondering. Thanks for any info you may have. Becca B

At 1:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could red swollen hive like splotches on the face be from taking Vitamin D 50000IU This is my 5th week taking it and now for the last 2 weeks my face is really itchy and it feels dehydrated tight like with hive like swollen bright red patches. The left is worse and that is the side I sleep on. I am a lupus patient I guess I could just be having flair up, but not use to having anything this bad on my face. Just wondering. Thanks for any info you may have. Becca B

At 6:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for this great post. I overdosed on my Vitamin D pills that my doctor prescribed a couple of weeks ago, I took 50,000IU pills 4 days in a roll....I supposed to take one pill a week! I just found out that I made the mistake today… In the past week, my left leg started to hurt( muscle pain), I have itchy skin and bumpy rash on face, but I am really concern about the side affect such as the calcification of the soft tissue on heart and kidneys ….. I don’t know how over dozed/posioned I am? Is there any home remedy that anyone can suggest to flush out some of the Vit. D? I really hate to sit and wait for the Blood work to come back, it will take a few days…

Thank you for your input!

At 8:20 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

i have just noticed under my eyes to the side of it are a big red botchy hives and I have been taking Vitamin D with Vitamin C supplements everyday for over a year now and it is now bad I had to look it was the vitamins - I will immediately stop. Also my skin and face are ichy.

At 9:58 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Becca and Anonymous,

Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comments. Both of you report a rash on the face in addition to itchy skin. So - it is highly likely that this is indeed caused by vitamin D.

Frankly I shocked that physicians are putting 50,000 IU vitamin D tablets into the hands of the public. It is dangerous and unnecessary. Many physicians point at me and claim that the doses of vitamins I recommend are dangerous when they aren't. Vitamin C and niacin do not cause serious side effects like vitamin D. More importantly, vitamin C and niacin side effects go away in hours. Vitamin D has a 30 day half life and side effects ebb over days, not hours. Finally, vitamin D is meant to be produced by exposure of the skin to the sun. Sunshine will deliver 10,000 to 40,000 IU/day of vitamin D but without the risk of side effects.

At 10:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doctor checked my blood and put me on 50,000D week for 3 months. Have taken 2 so far in 2 weeks and feel so drowsy I can hardly function. Want to lie down all the time and when I do lie down, sleep won't come because I got plenty of sleep night before. I just feel drowsy. Will not take this weeks dose and see how I feel. Anyone else experience this?

At 2:28 AM, Blogger Tania said...

Hi, thanks for your info I found it very interesting.
My story begins over 12 months ago with having a low Vit d and being commenced on 5000IU twice a day. After suffering extreme nausea my doctor reduced the dose to 5000IU per day this helped a little as long as I took it with a decent amount of food. All this time I had had heart palpitations and at one stage ended up in hospital with tightness and chest pain all was tested and found to be normal.
Then 6 months ago I started experiencing 'pulsitile tinnitus'(ringing in the ears sounding like my heart beat). I stopped my Vit D and saw my Dr within 1 week but she told me it couldn't possibly be due to that so I restarted it. I have now been to a neurologist and had a comprehensiv MRI performed. It showed that everything was normal, but one comment from the Dr got me thinking about the Vit D, he said that the "tinnitus was probably due to the blood vessels near the ear becoming less elastic and pliable". In the reading I've done I wonder if the Vit D has had an effect on my vascular system enough to cause this.
I've now had my levels done and everything is back to normal, I wonder have they been normal for some time and I've been taking too much, will these symptoms resolve? I stopped taking the Vit D 3 days ago.
I'd appreciate your comment, take care and may God's love and light shine for you and yours always, Tania

At 10:06 AM, Blogger Miroslav said...

Man thanks for this writing, I was vitamin d deficient and started to supplement myself. It did great job for me. But at one point (around three months) of starting supplementation I started to experience some vitamin d toxicity symptoms. I was very surprised because I read that there were no documented cases of vitamin d toxicity with usage of less than 30.000 IU/day. For these three months I was using between 3000-4000IU/day through diet and supplementation and I was sunbathing on regular basis (maybe 3-4 times per week around noon for 30-60 minutes full body exposure). I also noticed that my body differently reacts to sunbathing than to supplements, I stopped using supplements and decided than in future I am going to use them only in winter months, and during summer and spring I am going to sunbath.

At 10:08 AM, Blogger Miroslav said...

Man thanks for this writing, I was vitamin d deficient and started to supplement myself. It did great job for me. But at one point (around three months) of starting supplementation I started to experience some vitamin d toxicity symptoms. I was very surprised because I read that there were no documented cases of vitamin d toxicity with usage of less than 30.000 IU/day. For these three months I was using between 3000-4000IU/day through diet and supplementation and I was sunbathing on regular basis (maybe 3-4 times per week around noon for 30-60 minutes full body exposure). I also noticed that my body differently reacts to sunbathing than to supplements, I stopped using supplements and decided than in future I am going to use them only in winter months, and during summer and spring I am going to sunbath.

At 2:03 PM, Blogger Miroslav said...

Luckily I bumped up on this blog, and could see that other people had similar experiences like I did.
Vitamin d did great job for me, but after some time I started to experience some really bad side effects. These were loss of appetite, frequent urination, nausea, bone pain, itchy eyes.

It was strange to me because I was taking "only" around 3000IU/day from diet (milk, supplements, sea fish) and beside that I was sunbathing maybe 3-4 per weak around noon, full body exposure 30-60 minutes. Beside that I was also having high calcium diet in order to recover my skeleton after vitamin d deficiency. I was having this regime for three and a half months, when I started to experience these worrying side effects. It is 4 days since I have stopped sunbathing and taking supplements, and I follow low calcium diet, and symptoms started to disappear gradually.

Did someone had similar experience?

At 8:06 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Anonymous, Tania, and Miroslavs,

Thanks for leaving your comments. Tania's doctor needs to read this column. Ringing ears is on the list, and, actually, is a symptom caused by the overdose of many drugs. I'm not surprised Tania's doctor didn't know - just disappointed. I'm more disappointed that her Doctor would just press on. Vitamin D is quite toxic in overdose. I strongly recommend vitamin D from sunshine with the use of supplements as a back-up only.

Anyway, yes yes yes. Others have shared your symptoms. You are not alone. Frequent urination is a new one, but I don't doubt your report. If anyone else out there has suffered this symptom, please chime in.

Drowsiness is a standard overdose symptom. I classify the standard vitamin overdose symptoms as headache, nausea, and fatigue. Drowsiness classifies as fatigue to me.

Thanks again for stopping and commenting. I'm glad this column is proving useful.

At 2:49 PM, Anonymous kristin said...

thank god for this blog. my neighbor and i are both disabled, both see the same doctor, both started 50k ius of vitamin d two weeks ago...and both feel like were dying, here. SO TIRED, craving meat, depressed, im having chest issues, we both have headaches, ringing in our ears, aches and horrible pain...were a mess. im calling the doctor and yelling at somebody (oh, did i mention the bad mood, too?).
thanks so much for this.

At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

also, this was interesting...its a guide to people who handle vitamin d....


At 9:24 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for stopping by and leaving the link. I'm so sorry that your doctor put you and your neighbor through this experience.

Please don't conclude that vitamin D is toxic and that you don't need to worry about it. You need to find the right dose. As you know from reading my column, I believe the best way to get vitamin D is to expose as much skin as possible to the mid-day sun for just a few minutes.

If you read my other bogs, you'll see that I believe you should be getting into the sun, taking 100 mg thiamine tablets twice/day, 2000 mg of vitamin C twice per day, and 250 mg tablets of time release niacin once or twice per week.

At 7:20 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Great blog, came across it as I was trying to educate myself on the symptoms of overdosing. I experienced an inflammation flare-up in my body ...painful arthritic type issues in hands, muscle fatigue and general fatigue. Pain lasted for about 1-2 weeks. Had previous flare-up 8 years ago that came and went 3 specific times. Seemed very much like an autoimmune issue. Had many tests done and nothing was found except low Vit d level. I was tested at 27vit d. Dr advised 2000 IU of vit d but I amped it to 3000. I didn't feel the doctor knew much about this so I wanted to educate myself. I will definitely look for these signs of overdose to self medicate. Any suggestions as to WHEN I should retest to see where my levels are after having increased my vit d levels??

Also, I was initially supplementing with 1200 IU of vit d prior to being diagnosing with low levels of this vit. Just curious WHY some of us don't metabolize or convert this vitamin like others. Is something else out of whack that's creating this issue of low levels? --Glad a found this blog! Kristin

At 4:42 PM, Anonymous d-day said...

This is fantastic, I have searched the web for weeks to find people experiencing the same strange side effects as me when supplementing with Vitamin D3. My supplementation was between 2000IU to 4000IU for around 1.5 month before the first side effects started to show up, after that they just increased and finally (2 weeks later) I got so scared I stopped alltogether. My side effects was exactly the same as you and other commenters are listing:
1) Teeth sensation overly sensitive to cold water and food etc.
2) Increased ringing in the ears. I have tinnitus from earlier so its hard to tell if it's louder or not, but it felt somewhat more intense.
3) Strange feeling in the eyes, hard to explain actually. Some sort of uneasy feeling.
4)Had a hard lump under one of my eyes, it seems to follow one of the main feeding blood vessels to the eye area. I have had some strange feelings in that area as well, maybe nerve related. I remember I had to touch it all the time because it felt like there was something on my skin.
5)And the more scary ones: Strange heart sensation, especially when I was going to bed and when waking up in the morning. My heart was pounding and my whole upper body was sort of vibrating, accompanied with a slight dizziness. I also had this weak feeling of pain in my chest very sporadically, sometimes stronger. One morning when I woke up I had extreme pain sensations in my chest as well (only on my left side, so my first thought was that it was my heart), it was so intense I couldn't move and I finally decided to call 911. The chest pain subsided very fast though, but the paramedic decided to take me for an extensive checkup with EKG and blood tests. Everything turned out to be perfectly fine, nothing wrong with my heart according to the doctors.
5) Lastly my left leg started to vibrate uncontrollably, it felt like a cellular phone on vibrating mode lying inside my leg (only on the inside of the leg, not visible on the outside). The vibrations started sporadically and after some days it became continues throughout the whole day. That was the time I actually connected the Vitamin D with the side effects and I stopped all supplementation.

The vibrations in my leg subsided gradually and dissapeared completely one week after stopping supplementation. Its around 2-3 weeks since I stopped now (all side effects has subsided to almost unoticeable and are lessening each day, the heart pounding seems to be the most persistent, but it's much less noticeable and not alarming now). To be really sure it's actually Vitamin D I did test twice after stopping regular supplemetaion, one day I took 1000IU before bedtime and when I wake up I had this intensive heartbeat again accompanied with an uneasy feeling. I tested again with 800IU, and had the same effect next morning so I'm pretty sure it's related to Vitamin D.

When I had the intensive vibrations in my leg I did an extensive blood test and found my blood calcium was VERY low. It was close to hypocalcemic levels , I'm pretty sure that was the reason for the vibrations (my blood calcium levels prior to starting Vit D supplementation was normal) I also believe the intense chest pain was a muscular cramp due to low calcium and possible magnesium as well. For the last couple of weeks I have been supplementing with calcium and magnesium to up my levels and I have not been taking any Vitamin D except from sunlight. I do not experience any side effects from sunlight (as far as I can tell), only from supplementation.

Hope you are still around to comment. Are you still supplementing with Vitamin D? Has your heart sensations dissapeared? I'm a little confused as well, shouldn't Vitamin D actually increase your blood calcium levels and not lower them? Thanks for your blog!

At 7:58 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear D-day,

Wow! An awesome comment. Thanks so much. I hope the doctors of the world out there are reading this, and also the folks at the Vitamin D Council. There is no excuse for your suffering. Vitamin D should be gotten from skin exposure to the sun since the sun provides all the benefits of vitamin D supplements with a much much lower risk of side effects (There is such a thing a sun poisoning from too much sun and it should be fairly obvious and easy to avoid).

So - I am not really supplementing with vitamin D. I take an occasional 1000 IU tablet when I can't get into the sun for several days or when I'm afraid that I'm coming down with a cold. I get into the sun almost every day that it shines between 10 am and 3 pm. I still feel the side effects - even from just sunshine - but it is very very mild. I'm happy to live with mild side effects in exchange for fewer colds.

Calcium concentration in the blood is an important marker of health. It is important to keep it in the normal range. Many metabolic pathways need to be running smoothly to keep calcium in the normal range. Adequate levels of vitamin D are necessary for normal calcium but not sufficient. I recommend that you supplement with vitamin C, time-release niacin, and thiamine. Many of my blogs provide links to a recent blog with very specific instructions.

Good luck.

Thanks again for writing such a great comment.

At 6:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

About 6 weeks ago I noticed that I was getting frequent digestive cramping, flatulence, and loose stool. There were no dietary changes to explain these symptoms.

Around that time, I my blood test for D showed around 50 ng/ml.

Six months prior to that I tested around 30 ng/ml and started supplementing.

Lately, I have been supplementing with 4,000 IU of D3 daily. I strongly suspect that this supplementation is the cause of my problems. I am stopping all supplementation today. I will continue to try to get some sun exposure each week.

During the winter months I might consider more supplementation.

It is ironic because one of the main reasons I increased my D3 dosage was the studies showing a linear relation between vitamin D levels and digestive health (along with the swine flu panic).

Anecdotally, on the Vitamin D Council's site, there is the account of one person who said that supplementation did not help him with his digestive symptoms (Crohn's Disease), but tanning beds did help.

At 7:15 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

There is almost no question that your problems are caused by vitamin D overdose. Your symptoms are right there on the list: diahrea. You used more words: flatulence, cramps and loose stools.

I'll say it again - I hope physicians prescribing vitamin D and the folks at the vitamin D council come on over to this blog and give it a read. I apologize on behalf of the vitamin advocacy community (this includes me) about the poor job being done communicating about vitamin side effects and especially for vitamin D side effects since they are 100% avoidable by using the sun.

In our society it is hard to get into the midday sun every day the sun is out. As a result, many people are not receiving maximum benefit from vitamin D. Supplements enable everyone who can't get into the sun enough the opportunity to experience full benefits. You just have to be careful. I can feel the vitamin D side effects when they are incredibly mild. As a result, I can take 1000 IU supplements safely. I never take more than 1 per hour.

Please don't underuse vitamin D just because you unwittingly experienced serious overdose symptoms.

Thanks again for sharing your experience.

At 9:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This blog is VERY interesting. I have been vit d deficient for at least 3 years. The first time I was tested for this was several months after bariatric surgery. The docs wanted to make sure my vit levels were ok. At the time, I was also borderline anemic.
I will fast forward here for a moment -- In this last year I was so low in iron (ferretin was at four) and vit d (about 20), that I had to have an iron infusion about 9 months ago, and my vit d was increased from 2000 iu per day, to 4000 per day, to 50000 once a week, then 2x a week. After the infusion of iron I felt pretty good (I will not go into all the symptoms - everyone on this blog is going through much of the same)and my iron was of course at a great level.
Three months later, my iron came down a bit (200ish down to 130ish) and the vit d was about 32 but I still felt great. We increased my vit d to 50000 4x a week.
At the six months point, my ferritin was at 79 and the vit d was at 40 and the doc said increase vit d to 50000 6x a week. This was 3 and a half months ago. It was at that time that I stumbled on some interesting information. Apparently, in some people, gluten interferes with iron and vit d being absorbed. I decided to try being gluten free. The day after my blood work, I removed gluten. In less than one week, I had NO food cravings, and many physical symptoms disappeared by a good 75%. At two weeks, I saw my doc and told him what I did and how much better I was feeling.
He looked a little surprised and said take it a step further- have only fish, fruits and veggies and see what happens. Fish has a lot of vit d, but is not high on the iron list. I may also have a lactose issue and who knows what else, hence pulling back from almost everything.
Well, my diet has been boring, I have learned that there are many types of fish I didn't know existed, and I have begun to lose weight again (forgot to mention that PTH was up and weight loss stopped for over a year).Two weeks ago my ferritin was checked (no iron supplements at all) and it had shot up to 132--this is the first time in over 5 years that it has gone up any significant amount. I go for more blood work the end of next week.
The reason I stumbled on this blog was because I was trying to look up certain symptoms I have been experiencing over the last 2-3 weeks, gradually getting worse: swelling, aching jaw and headache almost always within a half hour of taking my vit d, sleepiness, muscle aches, ringing in my ear.
I am really looking forward to blood work for once. I want to see if my vit d also shot up. I see several docs and at least 2 are saying that in the next several months, I should be tested for gluten intolerance. Colonoscopy was clear, no celiac.

At 2:55 PM, Blogger Osiris said...

I work long hours in a big company and my cubicle is far appart fron windows, I really don´t get any sun exposure for much of the year except on my annual 2 weeks holiday
How much I´m suppose to take of my vit D supplements to be healthy?

At 2:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I have mistaken a problem with my breat cancer meds ( Femamra) with a Vit D overdose. Muscles , bones, joints and today a lump under my eye. Anyone else using both?

At 7:48 PM, Blogger TGLUVSHER7 said...

I was diagnosed with a vitamin D deficiency a week ago. My doctor suspected when I told her that my leg muscles hurt when I walk. She also discovered I am hypothyroid. So I began Levothroid and Vitamin D at 4,000 IU daily. I was also told to take Calcium at 1500mg daily with it (this has to be taken in divided doses. Your body can only absorb 500 to 600 mg at a time). The only side effects I have thus far are feeling very tired and needing to sleep more. I did have a little sternum chest pain when I lay down but I think it might be a little GERD caused by the supplements.
According to our Kaiser Medical website: The parathyroid glands release a substance called parathyroid hormone that helps control the amount of calcium in the bloodstream. When the parathyroid glands do not produce enough hormone, the amount of calcium in the blood decreases. The symptoms I found this under: confusion, memory loss, and altered alertness.
Prior to this diagnosis my symptoms were neurological (brain fog, memory loss and confusion). I also had symptoms of low thyroid. My Endocrinologist figured these things out when my primary care doctor did not. She explained that primary care doctors are told that as long as ones TSH is in the norm range on lab results that all is fine. She said primary care doctors would be prescribing thyroid hormones to many people who don’t need it if they knew the correct lab range. When a person goes to an Endocrinologist and their TSH is say 4.6 and they have low thyroid symptoms… it all adds up. The TSH is considered high above 3.0. You see the pituitary gland produces TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) if it senses that there’s not enough thyroid hormone in the blood stream. TSH tells the thyroid to make more. So, the higher your TSH is, the less functional your thyroid is at producing thyroid hormone on its own.
My understanding is that Vitamin D deficiencies are common with people with autoimmune disorders like hypothyroidism and diabetes type 2 (which I have both). I read that people with autoimmune disorders should have their TSH checked every year. According to my doctor; vitamin D deficiency causes the bone density to be lower than its true value. You need to maintain normal vitamin D levels for at least 1 year to let your bones rebuild before you do a bone density scan. Otherwise, you will get low readings that are actually reversible.
Interesting thing is that as I started thyroid hormones and 4,000 IU a day of vitamin D; my blood sugars fell tremendously (50 points average) and they are almost in the normal range (as in not being diabetic). The hormones in our body have to work in balance. When something is out of balance, it will increase or decrease in another area to try and balance. I am glad that my hormones are beginning to balance out.

At 9:13 PM, Anonymous Jen said...

wow, this is a really interesting blog. My D levels were at 16 in April... my doc suddenly decided to check all of her patients for deficiency since in Wisconsin we don't get much opportunity for sun exposure for the better part of the year. It is especially bad for me as I work in an office w/ no windows and don't often get out for lunch.

That said she put me on 50,000 iu of D twice a week. I thought that was excessive so initially I bought my own supplements and took 400iu/day, it said 100%, thought that was enough. That did nothing for my D deficiency, when I went back I was still super low. I started following her plan and after a month my level was at 28, the nurse said it raises slowly, that the ideal level was around 85 and I should keep taking the supplements. I ran out for the last week so for a couple days I took my supplements but I took 1600 iu. I have noticed when I don't take any D supplements I feel depressed. A conversation with a friend today made me think to look up the symptoms of overdose and I happened on this blog.

My eyes have been itchy and have had a lot of mucous since I started taking the larger supplement, though I never would have attributed it to the vitamins had I not read this blog. I also feel dizzy a lot in the afternoons too. I am not sure if this is a side effect or an inner ear problem, still waiting on the results of the VNG. Might have to stop the D for a bit, make a point of getting some sun on lunch, and see if the dizziness subsides. I always felt that natural was better anyway. I will still have to supplement once it gets too cold regardless, though at this point I am not sure how much I will need to take. Thanks for the info.

At 8:46 AM, Blogger Mhmama said...

My doctor prescribed Vitamin D supplements for me and my husband decided he should take them too. He also gets them in his multi vitamins. (I can't take multivitamins due to cancer) He now has frequent urination but low painful flow, weakness, and pain in abdomen. After reading your article, I told him to stop taking the supplement.

At 3:51 PM, Anonymous Liz said...

I am wondering if this applies to me. At the advice of certain websites and the Vit D council, I started D supplements because I work in school and was concerned with the flu pandemic. I started on 2000 per day, then took 4000 per day after a couple of weeks. Dr Cannell, on vitamin D council site, advocates taking 5000iu per day, and almost scaremongers people who are taking 1000-2000iu per day into thinking they are not taking enough, and are actually more at risk from flu than those taking none at all.

So, after reading this, I started to take 6000iu per day. Well, I started in May on my D supplementing, and at the time I was battling a scabies infestation, and had very itchy skin. Well, my itch hasn't gone away, and my husband feels it may not actually be a recurrence of scabies but may be due to the high dosage of D I am taking.

I argued with him because my itch started weeks before taking the D, but now I am wondering, after reading your notes, because I have developed a very slight wheeze. I never really get wheezy unless I have an allergy attack and although pollen is high, my hayfever has never caused this. I am also extremely depressed, but I put this down to battling scabies and feeling that it is not going away. Strangely, my itch never really produced a rash of any kind.

In addition to this, my epiglottis has become enlarged. It is not epiglottitis, but is just swollen enough to rest on the back of my tongue, which i very unsettling and scary, feeling like almost choking. This has lead to my appetite dwindling, don't get me wrong I am hungry but I don't want to eat as my throat feels so horrible.

Do you think my problems are coming from the D? If so, how can I stop it, will it go quickly if I abstain, and how can I ascertain what dosage to take?

Thanks in advance


At 12:22 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for stopping by with your comments.

Of all the symptoms you have described, the wheeze has the highest probability of being a vitamin D side effect. This is a commonplace vitamin D side and effect and has started for you after several weeks of vitamin D supplementation.

Vitamins often cause feelings that are not related to actual stress on a tissue. Your epliglotis may feel swollen without actually being swollen. Appetite depression from vitamin D is also a common symptom.

The half-life of vitamin D in the body is 30 days. Vitamin D side effects tend to fade slowly over the course of, say, a week. The side effects generally intensify in an obvious manner if you take 1000 or 2000 IU after skipping vitamin D for a week and staying out of the sun.

Please don't stop using vitamin D permanently just because of the side effects. The safest way to get vitamin D is from the sun. Supplements are needed in the winter if you live in the northern latitudes.

If you don't want to use the sun, you can try taking vitamin D supplements in bursts instead of daily. Take 5000 IU once per week instead of 1000 IU/day. This strategy will familiarize you with the side effects while maintaining >90% of the benefits of daily supplementation.

Thanks again for your comments. Readers should assume that all of the symptoms you report are reasonable vitamin D side effects until you get back to us on what is and what isn't.

At 12:29 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for stopping by. I remain shocked that physicians are using 50,000 IU supplements. There is no question that your itchy eyes and extra mucous are from the vitamin D.

I strongly recommend lower doses of vitamin D and more patience. The body adjusts for a long time once vitamin D levels are elevated. I've been supplementing vitamin D for three years now and believe that my body is still changing as a result.

Full body sunshine is the best way to get vitamin D. Every square inch of your skin has the ability to produce vitamin D and it is beneficial to put this ability to work.

Supplements also work fine, but carry an increased risk of side effects. Go ahead and use the supplements, but come on back to here to the blog to keep updated on the best dosing strategies.

At 1:53 PM, Blogger David said...

I was one of the first few people to comment here several months back. I complained of many of the symptoms of vitamin D side effects, and I thought I'd come back to give an update.

My problems kept recurring from time to time despite the fact that I had stopped taking the D3, and I visited several different doctors trying to figure out what was going on. I became skeptical that my symptoms had anything to do with my vitamin D intake, and it was eventually discovered that my neurotransmitters were quite out of balance. Serotonin tested low, norepinephrine was really high...

After starting treatment for this, my symptoms went away. I resumed a 5,000 IU per day dose of vitamin D, and have not had any problems reoccur at all to this day.

Anyway, I'm not denying that people can have side effects from it, but I'm just updating my own story. Apparently the vitamin D wasn't the problem.

At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting blog.

I began supplementing with 4000 to 8000 or more IU daily. Like a previous reader, I eat mostly fish, dairy, and veggies, with very little bread or gluten. My experience so far:

First 2 weeks: nothing unusual; no change. 3rd, 4th, 5th weeks: feeling just great. Noticeable change in mood. Depression gone. Life is good. I have more energy. Noticed a mild sensitivity in my teeth but did not think anything of it until reading this.

6th, 7th weeks: getting drowsy in the afternoons and fall asleep earlier at night. Can't stand bright lights on after dark or reading computer screens in the evenings. Can't read in bed. (This is actually good because it motivates me to get to bed earlier.) Tooth sensitivity increasing somewhat. Occasional mild headaches. Several incidents of severe constipation.

At this point, thanks to this blog, I have decided to stop supplementing, to see what happens. Will definitely begin supplementing again this winter.

At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting blog.

I began supplementing with 4000 to 8000 or more IU daily. Like a previous reader, I eat mostly fish, dairy, and veggies, with very little bread or gluten. My experience so far:

First 2 weeks: nothing unusual; no change. 3rd, 4th, 5th weeks: feeling just great. Noticeable change in mood. Depression gone. Life is good. I have more energy. Noticed a mild sensitivity in my teeth but did not think anything of it until reading this.

6th, 7th weeks: getting drowsy in the afternoons and fall asleep earlier at night. Can't stand bright lights on after dark or reading computer screens in the evenings. Can't read in bed. (This is actually good because it motivates me to get to bed earlier.) Tooth sensitivity increasing somewhat. Occasional mild headaches. Several incidents of severe constipation.

At this point, thanks to this blog, I have decided to stop supplementing, to see what happens. Will definitely begin supplementing again this winter.

At 2:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting blog.

I began supplementing with 4000 to 8000 or more IU daily. Like a previous reader, I eat mostly fish, dairy, and veggies, with very little bread or gluten. My experience so far:

First 2 weeks: nothing unusual; no change. 3rd, 4th, 5th weeks: feeling just great. Noticeable change in mood. Depression gone. Life is good. I have more energy. Noticed a mild sensitivity in my teeth but did not think anything of it until reading this.

6th, 7th weeks: getting drowsy in the afternoons and fall asleep earlier at night. Can't stand bright lights on after dark or reading computer screens in the evenings. Can't read in bed. (This is actually good because it motivates me to get to bed earlier.) Tooth sensitivity increasing somewhat. Occasional mild headaches. Several incidents of severe constipation.

At this point, thanks to this blog, I have decided to stop supplementing, to see what happens. Will definitely begin supplementing again this winter.

At 1:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! I can't believe what I have been reading. I have been on 50000 IU vit D for 9 weeks. At first I felt great, then about 2 weeks ago I have been having heart sensations, like skipped beats. I had a EKG and it was fine. I don't know if this has anything to do with vit D but I suffered from severe vertigo and unbalanced feeling. Also my ears ring terrible. I live in the north, so what is a person suppose to do in the winter? Lori

At 7:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am a 33 yr. old female. My Vitamin D level was at 13. I was adviced to take 1.25mg Vitamin D fr 12 months. My problem is, I accidentally took 2 in a week (was prescribed to take only one softgel a week). Im scared of what will happen to me. I don't feel any side effects yet, because I just took it now( should I wait?). Please help? If I go to urgent care they might just send me home and tell me to wait til I have symtptoms. I'm really scared.

At 7:50 PM, Anonymous JimG said...

Hi, good health to all on 8/16/09. My name is JimG. David's comment is very good. The body's nutrition is enoumously complicated and testing is expensive and time consuming and yet very important. We sure need a better health system. What I have learned from all of you about this subject is that we all have to manage our own health because doctors have little time to thoroughly investigate our health status, whereas, we live with our own bodies every day.

A couple of miscelaneous comments: VitD is probably a special case, more like a hormone than a vitamin. Also, vit K in all its sub-fractions (K1,K2-4/7)is an essential regulator of calcium that helps avoids unhealthy deposits where they don't belong. A great source of science based information is (Life Extension Foundation which is non-profit).

At 7:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Doctor started me on 50,000IU 1x a week I took the first dose and began to itch and whelp the very next day, I started to have headache's muscle pain, itching eyes I went to my doctor who said to start on bendryl, I could not take a steriod injection as it would elevate my blood sugar levels. after two weeks I am still having whelping and itching not as much muscle pain. I don't think I should be still having symptoms is this a normal reaction.

At 9:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is all very interesting. I found this blog because I was wondering if some of the things I have been feeling were Vit. D toxicity. Back in April my Vitamin D3 level was 6, so I began supplementing with pills and sunshine. In June it was only up to 13, so I increased to 4000 - 6000 IU per day. Now in August I am feeling fatigue, depression, heart symptoms, urinary symptoms, etc. My question is: can you get toxic symptoms while your overall levels are still severely depleted?

At 6:54 AM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Depleted But Suffering Anyway,

There are currently no scientific studies to use that directly answer your question using clinical data.

Should a dataset emerge that enables scientists to plot side effects as a function of blood concentration of vitamin D during a period of high dose vitamin D supplementation, I would expect to see a bell curve with side effects hitting a small percentage at surprisingly low vitamin D concentrations. You could be one of those data points.

The next point is that you have been aggresively supplementing (pills and sunshine) since June. I wouldn't be surprised to see you vitamin D levels way up.

The third point is that the body is complex and takes time to change. I've been using mostly sunshine and some supplements of vitamin D for more than two years and am still feeling my body change.

The final point is that you need to stop supplements and get out of the sun to prove to yourself that the side effects are indeed from vitamin D (which I believe they are), and more importantly to try to get them go away. When you are ready to resume, I recommend sunshine to minimize the risk of side effects. That said, I use both and gladly suffer minor vitamin D side effects for the benefits I believe I feel when I'm fighting a cold.

At 7:28 AM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear 50,000 IU Anonymous,

In fact, I believe that your reaction to vitamin D at 50,000 IU is surprisingly common. 50,000 IU is a large dose and vitamin D is an important molecule in the body with the potential to influence every cell directly. I disapprove of the 50,000 IU dose. I recommend a slower approach. The safest approach is regular mid day sunshine. A mix of sunshine and up to 2000 IU of vitamin D/day is the next safest. Then up to 2000 IU/day without sunshine. Above 4000 IU per day most people will eventually develop side effects - that's why the Food and Nutrition Board has set the UL for vitamin D at 2000 IU/day.

The second part of your question is why are the side effects taking so long to go away. This is totally normal. Vitamin D has a half life of roughly 30 days. Unfortunatlely, unlike vitamin C and niacin, vitamin D side effects take days/weeks to disappear instead of hours/days.

At 7:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've just happened onto this blog while searching for Vit D overdose symptoms. I began supplementation winter before last at 400 IU, and stopped during summertime. Last winter I increased this to 2000 IU as I had read that more is better to a point, and I decided from reading that you won't OD on 2000 IU. Didn't realize how much I was already getting from milk and fortified foods, probably another 500 to 800 IU per day. Then decided to keep going 2000 IU thru this summer as I wasn't getting daily sun and besides had read that you wash off the Vit D you create from sunshine if you bath daily. So mid summer I begin to feel fatigued, my legs feel heavy, achy, especially the next morning after an evening walk, and none of this has been the norm, I exercise fairly regularly and usually feel stronger not weaker the day or two after a good workout. Also my knees have become weak and don't respond well to exercise to try to strengthen them. And at the same time my shoulders have become weak, hard to lift weight, even just my arm only, outward from my body. This is all abnormal for me, (55 years old) I've played softball every summer and never have had weak anything, and this is the first summer I laid off from softball. So about 3 weeks ago I decided that Vit D might be the problem, when I discovered the long half life, I figured if I was getting even just a litte too much each day it could build up in my body. So I quit supplements but not the food sources. My symptoms still have not subsided after 3 weeks, the Vit D levels should be nearing half what they were shouldn't they?

At 8:28 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for stopping by.

Stopping the supplements was the right thing to do. You should have been feeling better already if vitamin D was the problem. Still - give the long half life of vitamin D and the fact that you are not avoiding fortified foods, you probably should wait more time before restarting. When you restart, try 6000 IU for the first couple of days. If vitamin D is the problem, your side effects should flare up from the high dose.

That said, your side effects are not convincing. Weak muscles and fatigue are common symptoms with many causes. You have not supplemented with vitamin D above the UL (I believe 2000 IU is the UL). You don't have any of the classic symptoms (the chest pains, ringing ears, irritated lungs, twinging teeth, etc.).

If you read my other blog entries, you know I think you should take time release niacin, thiamin, and vitamin c in addition to the vitamin D supplements.

Good luck and thanks for leaving a comment.

At 2:08 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Howdy all,

Personal statistics prior to starting Vitamin D regimen: 55 year old white male, not a sun worshiper, sedentary lifestyle, persistent aches in shoulder joints and lower back. High sensitivity to most drugs and supplements. Very healthy otherwise.

Started with a new doctor in March 09 who did a full blood work up to get a baseline. Found to be Vitamin D deficient (~16). Put on D3 2000 IU/day in May 09.

Symptoms: Feelings of extreme stress that grew worse over time. Extreme fatigue and general malaise. Joint pains all but gone.

Self treatment: Realized symptoms due to my particular body chemistry caused by response to 2000 IU dosage. Reduced to 400 IU for a week, increasing dosage by 400 IU weekly. Found recurrence of stress conditions at 1600 IU. Currently maintaining between 800 and 1200 IU/day. Joint pain gone. Vitamin D levels almost in normal range after 4 months.

My personal observation? 50K IU probably would have killed me...or caused me to kill someone else...due to induced stress and fatigue.

Your mileage may vary. My daughter can take 2000 IU/day with no ill affects.

Be well,


At 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My wife and I have both experienced an overdose at fairly "low" dosage supplements...My Wife has 800 in her one-a-day and she took an extra 400iu once a day (D3)....I had 400iu in my Men's one-a-day and I took a 1000iu D3 once a day. I wanted to ask a question that I think may be very important...Is it D3 that is causing some of the problems? I had the dry mouth symptom and could taste mushrooms !! My wife read that a good food source for D was mushrooms. Coincidence? Does anyone know if D2 causes less problems than D3?

At 6:29 PM, Blogger Tracie said...

My daughter had symptoms last year I believe from Vitamin D, hives on her skin. Whenever she would drink milk, she would get the hives. I was giving her a teaspoon of cod liver oil each day in the wintertime, and her symptoms started in January-ish. As long as she didn't have any dairy products, then she was fine. I thought she was developing an allergy to dairy, but now I don't think so. the first trip to the pool this summer, and her first mega-dose of Vitamin D gave her hives all over. I used sunscreen and left her out in the sun anyway. I did that for a couple of weeks, then removed the sunscreen, and she developed a tan with no other side effects. I think the buildup had disappeared at that time and she continues to have no problems. However this year, I am being VERY careful this winter to supplement her a little less.

At 8:47 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear "Low Dosage",

Both you and your wife are supplementing below the Food and Nutrition Board's upper safe limit for vitamin D. Unless you are both getting well more than average sunshine, it seems unlikely that you would both be suffering from vitamin D side effects.

Here's how to find out. Stop vitamin D supplements and stay out of the sun for 10 days. Then take 4000 IU of vitamin D for three days in a row. If you are currently suffering from vitamin D side effects, the side effects will fade during the 10 day vitamin D "fast" and return dramatically during the 3 day period at 4000 IU.

Good luck and thanks for stopping by.

At 8:51 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear VW,

Thanks for stopping by and leaving your comment.

As you are having trouble with side effects, have you considered avoiding supplements altogether and just getting more sunshine? This will get you more vitamin D while avoiding serious side effects.

I'm assuming you are familiar with side effects from getting too much sunshine. Don't get that much more sunshine. Some of the well known side effects from too much sun are on the list of vitamin D side effects and are at least partially caused by too much vitamin D from sunshine.

At 7:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just came across this doctor told me I have low vitamin D as well, should be 85, I am 18. I started taking supplement 1000 IU 3 days ago and have noticed extreme tiredness, headaches, minor stomach cramps and weird fluttering in my heart. I was feeling tired and lethargic prior to taking the supplements which is why i went in for a blood test in the first place. However, this just seems worse. I'm not sure if I should stop taking them altogether, or take 1/2 a pill. Also, is three days too soon to notice such side effects? thanks!

At 12:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My doctor recently prescribed me 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 because of showing a severe deficiency on testing.

I was to take this amount for 5 days and then drop off to taking it once per week. Within days the symptoms began and were pretty alarming.

I'm not sure which symptoms came first, but I noticed cramping in the gut and then diarrhea. I also had dizzy spells. Later came extreme drowsiness/fatigue and muscle weakness, some headaches, dry mouth, headachey. Then ongoing nausea, loss of appetite, more moody and depressed (even felt suicidal) and more light sensitivity. I've actually broken down and cried on and off because I"ve felt so ill.

Needless to say, I did not go beyond the 5 days. That was enough to tell me something was VERY wrong. Sadly, even though my last dose was approx 2 weeks ago, I still suffer the effects. Some seem to be lessening, but some days are worse than other days. Today is particularly bad, which is why I have been searching on the net and found this blog (thank goodness).

I do not know how to make things better again, but keep hoping time will do so. My doctor has made no effort to get back to me over my concerns which I passed onto the nurse that works in the office. She charges even if it's a few minute phone call (I don't have the money right now). I have rung more than once and told more than one nurse there, and just been told that it could be the vitamin D, but to get in touch with a local G.P.

Amazing! My doctor is responsible for this, but takes no responsibility once something goes wrong. I would warn ANYBODY in following such high doses of vitamin D. I feel like some part of an experiement that she's doing to see what happens with her patients.

At 4:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, everyone, for posting here. The more authoritative sources I've found have said nothing about tooth pain or sensitivity as possible toxicity effects, but since reading the posts here, I believe this is what I may be experiencing. Last winter I started supplementing with about 1400-1800 IU of vitamin D3 daily. In March, I was dealing with the worst tooth discomfort I've ever experienced. The dentist and periodontist found nothing to explain it, and two orthodontists only thought that it could be due to a bite problem. As sunnier weather came around, I backed off of the supplementation, and these symptoms went away. During the winter, I had blood vitamin D levels checked, and the result was a level of 30 on a scale of 20-100. During the summer, I had it checked again with some other blood work, and the level was still at only 33. So I recently started upping my supplementation from 600 IU/day to 1000, and now the tooth pain is coming back. And it's my front teeth, by the way.

This is not conclusive proof, but it seems more than a coincidence to me... I stopped taking the vitamin D3 two days ago (well, actually, back down to 200 IU in a multi-vitamin), and hopefully this problem will continue to fade again...

- Doug

At 7:53 PM, Blogger Andrea Kollo said...

Fascinating ... I did a search on Vit D overdose on a hunch. I am experiencing calcification in my hands and it hurts.

I take 2000IU but also drink milk and there is Vit D in my calcium formulation as well.

In this post it suggested that Vit K and the parathyroid may have something to do with calcification as well.

Really confused now on how to proceed. I'm thinking that I should do away with the Vit D and continue with the calcium and organic milk to see with happens over a month.

Should I have my parathyroid and Vit K levels checked after a while off the D? And make a point of ensuring a good, health alkaline environment?

Been experiencing minor anxiety attacks of late as well.

Your thoughts would be appreciate.


At 9:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I posted earlier about my prescribed 50,000 IU of vitamin D and the symptoms that followed.

I have just found out what my actual vitamin D test results had been (before I started the prescribed vitamin D).

I had expected a very low number and was suprised to discover I was in actual fact within normal range. Though on the lower end admittedly. But evidentally I was not so severely depleted as the doctor made out.

The rang was 50 - 150. I was 64. Yet I was told that I was very deficient.

So yes, it pays to enquire about the actual numbers.

Certainly one can overdose on high dose supplements and it's a wonder why I was not recommended to simply get a bit more vitamin D from sunlight and/or perhaps a moderate supplement of e.g. 400 IU (at least to start).

At 2:16 PM, Anonymous Victim in Madison, CT said...

SOLUTION for everyone having problems...

1. Do not believe the bottle of D3 that says to take 1 daily !!!!!

2. D3 has a half-life of 3 weeks - If you take 1000iu per day for 6 weeks you end up with an average 21000iu in your body daily. If you take one 1000iu per week that averages 3000iu in your body per day which is what I am now trying. All my overdose symptoms and my Wife's have disappeared since stopping D3 for a while.

3. The easy calculation for your daily iu supplement is to multiply what you plan to take daily by 21 (half-life of D3 in days) - this is your daily average in your body after 6 weeks and then on after that.

Note: With a half-life of 3 weeks it would take 6 weeks to get out of your body.

Also, anyone questioning the "half-life of D3" should Google it and verify my theory.

I wish everyone suffering with D3 overdose symptoms all the best and good luck to everyone figuring out the correct dosage.

Of course the best way to figure out if you even need a supplement is to get tested....I also know someone who was overdosing on milk with D3 in it - He was drinking 6 12oz cups per day for most of his life and now he knows more he can stop killing himself and drink the 1 cup a day like normal.

And finally, it may be just a weird coincidence but I am getting a tooth repaired after 15 years of no problems. Who knows but this just happened after the overdose.

At 4:25 AM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.

Calcification in the hands is a serious problem. You should have this diagnosis confirmed by a physician. Once confirmed, your physician should provide you with advice regarding vitamin D and calcium supplements. If he/she doesn't, I recommend finding another physician. A standard protocol for vitamin D overdosing is to avoid vitamin D supplements, vitamin D fortified foods, sunshine, and calcium supplements for a few weeks.

You asked difficult questions about vitamin K and parathyroid. You can see from the discussion in this blog item on vitamin D that physicians are having difficulting managing patient vitamin D levels. Much less is known about vitamin K and parathyroid.

I have focussed my attention on vitamin C, vitamin D, niacin, and thiamine because they are the only four micronutrients associated with named, (formerly) pandemic deficiency diseases (scurvy, rickets, pellegra, and beriberi respectively). Please read my other blog items on this subject and leave some more comments.

Good luck with the pain in your hands.

Thanks again for stopping by the blog,


At 4:29 AM, Blogger Steve said...


I'm so glad you found this page useful. I'm confident that you have found the source of your tooth pain. It is hard to believe that in 2009 such a simple problem perplexes doctors and dentists.

Please share what you've learned with friends and family. I hope what you've learned boosts my credibility and that you will consider following my dosing recommendations for vitamin C, niacin, thiamine, and vitamin D.

Please come on back and share more of your experiences.


At 4:33 AM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for stopping by and sharing. It is so important that people testify to the problems caused by these 50,000 IU vitamin D treatments. Your testimony will fast persuade me and others that this treatment is ill-advised. I'm terribly sorry for the suffering your physician has caused you.

Please don't conclude from this that you don't need extra vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential for optimal health. Please read my many blog entries on the benefits of vitamin D, niacin, thiamine, and vitamin C. I've done my best to provide advice that maximizes the benefits while minimizing the risk of side effects. I wish you long life in good health.

At 11:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What can you do if you have symptoms? I have been ignoring mine for 3 months now. Is it still enough to reverse them if I just stop taking the vitamin? What a coincidence that I came accross this site.

At 8:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,

Thanks for your response, much appreciated. I have just been to see a nurse at a local G.P. and she is passing the info onto my the doctor. The symptoms continue, so she is concerned.

I will not be taking anymore vitamin D, until I get back to some normality. I do agree with you that it's necessary to get enough and I'll certainly not allow this to cause me to go to the extreme of "never having any". Because that would be a mistake. But it's a great pity that we have cowboy doctors out there who are taking risks with their patients like this and possibly losing their trust in what otherwise would be a wise thing to supplement with (at safe doses).

I'm still suffering toxic effects and I am hoping things won't last too long.

I did read that toxic effects can last 2 months after discontinuing vitamin D. I'm sure this will vary from person to person. I've had about 3 weeks so far. Sometimes it feels like it maybe improving, but then it worsens again!

At 11:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two days ago I started taking Vitamin D drops under my tongue which enters into the blood stream directly through arteries that lie under the tongue. I took a total dose of 14,000 IU I noticed a significant difference. I wasnt fatige, my mind was clear, my eyes seemed clear and within 6 hours I was dizzy and I had orthostatic hypotension with chest pain at the base of my sternum(manubrium). The following day I took another 8,000 IU's and I noticed a small rash on my face along with dryness, very thirsty, redused appetite, and not as energetic as the day before. My original reading of Vit. D was 10 so I believe the right thing for me to do would be continue with only one drop under the tongue every other day unless symptoms worsen. Hope everyone else does alright with their treatments, Be healthy. By the way I live in Miami Florida where its sunny every day and still have very low levels????????????????

At 7:45 AM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

It is unfortunately common to ignore vitamin side effects for many months because individuals and physicians are unfamiliar with them. Many individuals report going to doctors and nurses with complaints caused by vitamins and finding no advice. As a result the chronic suffering goes on and on until the cause is finally identified. Other individuals disregard side effects because they feel the benefits from the extra vitamin outweight the side effects. Most of these individuals eventually lower their dose of vitamin and full recovery over time is the norm.

Vitamin D has a 30 day half life and is produced in the skin from exposure to the sun. Vitamin D side effects are unusually slow to recede. I've discussed this previously in the comment string above. The typical protocol for accelerating the disappearance of vitamin D side effects is to avoid vitamin D supplements, vitamin D fortified foods, sunshine, calcium supplements, and calcium fortified foods.

I wish you a speedy recovery.

At 8:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so how can the Vitamin D council or org be so wrong about vitamnin d?
The problems are the dosing is so highly variable as are the side effects. I found Vitamin D to be a miracle hormone for the past 6 months-incredible-lifted the fatigue and fog and has some great cardiac and immune benefits are great.

However I recently experienced a hos to of symptoms described in the myriad of comments in this thread.
Most notably dry throat fatigue nerve and muscle pain muscle spasms pain in feet eye problems over all feeling of malaise...
I had upped my dose to 16,000 iu's a day form 4-6,000 to knock out a cold coming on and it worked then I guess as a result of the fatigue continuing from the high dosed Vitamin d effects it became like a circle I kept reading toxicology and safety and stuff like that off of 10 -15 PRO Vitamin D sites and thougt I was fine-but this
explains a lot.
The worst side effect was the palipitations and pain and tightness in the sternum area-blood pressure was normal but I felt like I was gonna stroke out...dizzy shortness of breath I actually thought I had a clogged artery...I recently had a full work up done 2 months ago -nuclear stess test Echo cardio gram and a couple I was kinda worried but when you have those symptoms I was on 9-then 1- then hung up the phone ...

I always was very fatigued AFTER going to the beach and could never figure out why? I thought it was just the heat and sweat but I took in tons of water and stayed cool swimming and still would be knocked out...
I stopped the D for now only 2000 ius EOD or ED for me maybe 4-6000 in the future-I plan on getting my D levels tested.

At 6:32 PM, Blogger songbird said...

I am so thankful to have come across your blog! Thank you so much, and thanks to those of you who have shared your experiences!Four months ago after routine blood work at the doctor's office I was found to be vitamin D deficient with a level of 12. I was started on 50,000 units of vitamin D twice a week for five months, plus calcium + D twice daily for the rest of my life. After four months of this regimen I am a mess to say the least, but only recently wondered if this all could be from vitamin D toxicity, so I decided to research it and came across your wonderful blog! I started out with having a continual headache which nothing seemed to help. I now have these symptoms: Extremely itchy skin, still have the headache most days, I wake up several times per night to urinate, I have red, itchy, irritated eyes, I have this fuzzy feeling in my head, sort of like a "mental fog" so to speak, but the worst thing of all is the heart palpitations, PAC's, PVC's and tachycardia. I had to have an EKG, echocardiogram, and stess myoview, all of which were normal, except for the rapid rhythm. However something in NOT normal. It feels like I am short of breath constantly because of this extreme irregular heart rhythm. I feel terrible. I have one more month to complete on the vitamin D. After reading your blog and after reading the responses from others, I have decided not to complete it. I will check back and let you know how I feel after stopping it. Thanks again so much for your blog! It was a Godsend! Also thank you tho those of you who took the time to contribute to it as well. It was very helpful! :)

At 11:39 PM, Blogger skt said...

I found this blog when searching to find out if abdominal cramping and diarrhea could be a side effect of my vitamin D supplementation. I just started 2 weeks ago with 50,000 IU once a week. At my last check-up my blood work showed low vitamin D, low bone density and low calcium. (also high cholesterol, but that doesn't look related) The first week, after the first dose, I had no problems. All this week I have had abdominal cramping after every time I eat or drink. Sometimes it is accompanied by diarrhea and sometimes not. I though I had some kind of a virus but I just realized, today, that the cramping started the day I took the second dose of 50,000 IU vit D. I was surprised to find the tooth sensitivity side effect. For the past few days I have thought I needed to make a dentist appointment. My front tooth hurts and my bottom teeth feel weird. When I read that you "feel your teeth" I could really relate. I have also been uncharacteristically irritable. This is only my second dose.

I did not realize all the problems associated with low vitamin D. I have quite a few. Bone and joint pain, a bit over weight, insulin issues associated with polycystic ovaries, memory and fuzzy headedness. I don't want to give up on vitamin D supplementation, but I can't have stomach cramps like this every time I eat.

I teach school so I can't go outside at noon every day without my clothes. I can go out for about 20 minutes with my face and arms exposed, and my lower legs in the warm months.

Hopefully there is a solution.

At 1:14 AM, Blogger Thehseen said...

On July 17,2009 my blood test result showed a vitamin D of 9.4 ng/ml. I am 34 years old and already showing signs of osteopenia and had several metatarsal fractures on low impact. I started taking vitamin D supplement of 60,000 IU per week (one single dose with a glass of milk) on July 25, 2009. The one abnormality I have noticed is twitching of my right eye which has increased with every passing day. My last vitamin D dose (3rd) was on August 9, 2009. I still have the eye twitching which is bothering me a lot. At about this time (vitamin D consumption), coincidently I also started getting a lot of noon sun and this continues to date. I have a glass of milk per day. I am from India. I chanced upon your post today and although this seems to be an old post, I was wondering whether you would be kind enough to respond. Is my symptom a result of vitamin D? Should I continue my vitamin D supplements? Anyway, thank you for this post.

At 12:20 PM, Anonymous Fred Hahn said...

I've been taking 50,000 IU's of D3per day for 6 months. I have not felt any negative side effects at all. My levles are now at 140 and my doctor says to keep taking the 50,000 5X a week.

I don't drink milk at all and as a red head, I avoid the sun. So perhaps this is why?

At 9:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the poster who said taking 1000IU weekly would result in a constant 3000 IU level... You are forgetting the basic metabolism of vitamin D. A cholesterol-based substance in the skin (7-DHC) is converted by photons in the UVB spectrum that penetrate the skin, striking it and coverting it to pre-vitamin D3. The heat of your body converts this to D3. Or, if you are supplementing, you are taking in D3. However, D3 is then converted to 25-vitamin D, which is further converted to 1,25 vitamin D, the most active form. After exposure to a single minimal erythemal dose (MED), serum D3 levels peak between 1 and 2 days, and fall rapidly after that as D3 is either metabolized to inactive products or converted to 25-D, the level that is used as a reference for vitamin D sufficiency. Also, you should know that 10 minutes of midday sun for a white person in the southern united states will easily produce over 5000IU of vitamin D3. Lets not forget that is being added to whatever you are supplementing. And for the person who thought vitamin D is "washed off" the is not. PreD3 is produced primarily in the basal layer of the epidermis, far away from the surface. The skin at the surface that is "washed off" is already dead. Several people have also mentioned not being near windows. Windows absorb UVB radiation, but permit UVA and the visible spectrum to pass. UVA is responsible for much of the effects of aging and solar damage, but will not cause vitamin D synthesis. FYI, I am a doctor. I do not doubt any of the side effect claims, as vitamin D is still one of the mysteries of medicine, where we are discovering more everyday about its role in cancer, infectious disease, mood, autoimmune disease, bone and muscle health, and many others. I myself am suspicious of 50,000 IU doses instead of smaller daily supplements.

At 10:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Just came across your website.

Frankly, I'm at a loss to understand a lot of these comments. I've been into alternatives for more than 30+ years and take many many supplements which, along with diet and exercise, have dramatically improved my health.

A few years ago I attended a workshop for women with osteopenia. At the time, I was tested and it was discovered that I had a severe Vitamin D deficiency. The MD gave me 50,000 units to take once each week. After that, it was recommended that I take 1,000 units of D3 a day. Over the years I was tested a few times to ascertain my D3 levels and was subsequently advised to increase that to 6,000 units a day, which I did. I have had NO SIDE EFFECTS that I can ascertain. I've done reading on the subject and my understanding is that D3 is considered safe, even in doses far larger than the one I take.

At 5:40 PM, Anonymous Diane said...

My Vit D, 25-hydroxy level tested to be 17 ng/ml with a reference range of 30-80ng/ml. My doctor gave me Vit D3 liquid and said to take 10 drops (10,000 IU)per day in the AM. He said this is better absorbed than capsules. On my 2nd day I had abdominal cramps and felt sick. Do you know anything about this liquid form of Vit D? The manufacturer is Pure Encapsulations, Inc.
Thanks, Diane

At 6:57 PM, Anonymous Wendy said...

I think it's important that we look at what form we are taking d2 or d3 as well as capsule or liquid. Also what else is in it? It is usually referred to as 'non medicinal ingredients' on the side.

For starters I just started vit d supplementation a few months ago. However, I suffered from panic attacks for the first time in my life last year. All tests came back fine. I asked the medical doctor if it could be caused by an allergy - he said no. HOWEVER, if you google panic attack and allergy you will find that it can indeed be caused by this. Additionally it is connected with mineral/vitamin deficiencies (concentrace mineral supplements starting at 1 drop 2x a day, then next day 2 drops 2x a day, next day 3 drops 3x a day to bowel tolerance and food avoidance and I have had no full on ones since-others are connected to when i sneak a treat which i have not done in 7 mo) Becuase I am very very careful with my diet (I was pregnant and now breastfeeding, I can tell you things I have found out abuot myself I would have normally written off as something else). Tea/caffeine will make my 'heart' ache...also suspect is the chemicals used on the inside of coffee cups to help keep the beverage insulated. things that give me heart palpatations include ingredients in baked goods or junk food which i eat very little of. interesting that i can eat a mars bar a few times a year with no side affects. A butter tart from Tim Hortons- no problem, a butter tart from the local bakery will produce a full on panic attack that lasts at least until the next day. Tea with some friends at a local bistro has me wide awake until 6am with my heart hammering out of my chest!!!! Sometimes a cookie will be fine, then I'll be at someones house and have one of theirs and bam same thing. Perhaps it is something like corn syrup or an additive- but I avoid all baked goods now and only make my own raw ones. ;-) Those panic attacks are sure scary to the enth degree complete with ride to hospital in ambulance!!!

Guess what? I also have issues with dairy, corn, yeast, gluten, wheat, beef... vitamins are typically encapsulated in GELATIN capsules!! Now I know why I used to have such reactions to the vitamins I took. I never thought I had all these food issues- a few sure, but when tested I was surprised. I had just recently suspected my beef but thought nah...not possible- it's organic, farm raised by a local farmer...and yet I was starting to get a headache every time.

Some liquid vitamin d is in 'oil'. You need to know what kind and if any other 'preservatives' are in it. The one I got recently had olive oil that it was mixed with and the oil was rancid. ewwww. Additionally I can taste the plastic from the little plastic bottle it was in.

Leg pains, hand pains, heart pains, uterine pains, headaches, toe aches - I can pin them ALL on food prior to taking the vitamin d. I keep a food journal and have been doing it for years. Plus breastfeeding my children has allowed them to be my guage- this 3rd baby NEVER cries...unless I eat something I shouldn't like pecans or a chocolate bar or a tea. Then he cries or fusses for 48 hrs and his little bum goes red. Considering he's never had a rash or mark of any kind on his body (he really is my dream baby).... to see the effect this has on him is just so incredible. Makes so much sense now to know what my first one went thru...took me until he was 8 months to figure out the food connections.

Anyhow, food issues are something to consider besides the 'd overdose' theory. I would have never made the connection years ago- it's taken this long to narrow it down accurately. ;-)


At 4:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Wendy (above). There are so many other possibilities to consider before a vitamin D overdose. True, each of us may react differently to different substances, but to attribute all "symptoms" (and some of those mentioned in previous posts are dubious) to vitamin D intake is a bit short-sighted.

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the poster who said her colonoscopy was clear for Celiac Disease: colonoscopy is not a diagnostic tool for Celiac. EDG (upper GI scope) with multiple biopsies is part of the diagnostic process for CD.

At 6:18 AM, Blogger jdawg said...

I have tried 2000IU for long periods of time and gotten out in the sun in the summertime because I've long been experiencing fatigue and IBS but lately I upped the doses to 4000IU for several days. Now I think I'm dealing with side effects and maybe had been long before.
Is there any way to know how long it takes for this to clear one's system? I feel like I've swallowed a bowling ball, nausea, no libido at all and panicky insomnia upon going to bed.

At 12:38 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Like jdawg, I too am unable to tolerate the higher doses others can. When first diagnosed as D3 deficient I was prescribed 2000IU/day. Within a few weeks I started feeling constantly stressed and fatigued and sleep did not relieve the problem. The fatigue and stress caused problems with concentration and general well being. On determining the cause for me, high levels of D3, I immediately reduced to 400IU. I'm now at 1200IU for the last four months with no ill effects. Joint pain in shoulders and lower back noted prior to beginning D3 has vanished.

One note. While there doesn't appear to be consensus at least on the Internet of what constitutes too much, my corporate wellness practitioner notes that 2000IU/day is considered toxic.

Your mileage may vary.

At 5:49 AM, Anonymous Bex said...

6 weeks after stopping vitamin D due to toxicity (only taking it for a few days at 50,000 IU), I am still suffering the effects.

I do not know how long this will continue for, nor do I really know what to do, apart from restrict vitamin D and calcium intake in any form (diet/supplementary).

I am still nauseous almost daily. I am tired and irritable and having trouble concentrating and even hearing has dulled and I now have alot of acid reflux and dry mouth (thirst) and increased light sensitivity.

I have already tried to get help, but haven't really had much luck. Seems it's something I have to suffer and hope to heck things will come right.

At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's syndrome with high blood calcium levels and hypoparathyroidism about 2 years ago. My endocronologist prescribed 2000 IU of Vitamin D. Over the 2 years tests continue to show low levels of Vit D and high blood calcium and the doctor increased the Vit D to 4000 IU per day. About a year ago I started to experience severe pain in my feet--stabbing pain in toes and numbness, tingling in feet. Podiatrist thinks it's neuromas but pain has not lessened with cortisone shots. Could there be a connection between severe foot pain and taking 4000 IU of Vit D per day??

At 7:27 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

Yes. It is possible that vitamin D is causing the symptoms you describe. Bone pain is a common symptom of vitamin D. Vitamin D causes me bone pain in the fourth finger on my left hand. It's hard for me to know if the pain you feel in your toes is bone pain or not. I classify the pain in my finger as bone pain because it is unaffected by pressing on my finger and rubbing around the pain which appears to be coming from the center of my finger.

Vitamin D has a 30-day half life, and side effects typically fade away slowly. No harm will come from quitting for 2 weeks. During this time the side effect should at least fade. After two weeks, take 4000 IU again. If vitamin D is the problem, the pain in your feet should get much work within hours of taking the dose.

At 7:33 PM, Blogger Steve said...


In addition to avoiding vitamin D and calcium in the diet, you need to stay out of the sun. 6 weeks is a long time to be suffering such severe side effects. Physical exercise along with drinking extra fluids will usually increase metabolic demand for vitamins and furthermore help flush them from the body. With time, I'm sure I could come up with more practical suggestions. If you're really interested, please keep up the conversation here in the comment string.

At 7:38 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Supplementing at 50000 IU is the worst approach I can think of for addressing vitamin D deficiency. I recommend 4000 IU per day for one month followed by 1000 to 2000 IU per day continuously for those who don't want to take the safer and more effective route of regular sunshine.

It's very discouraging that you feel you can't get into the sun because you teach school. The children you teach need the vitamin D from sunshine more than you do. If teachers can't set a good example (because of the schedules set for them by management - usually former teachers), what kind of message is that? You'll get plenty of sun on the weekends when your students can't see and then hide your need for extra sunshine by using supplements during the week? Student health is a top priority for teachers. Healthy body are required for healthy minds.

At 7:53 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Diane,

These liquids with concentrated vitamin D (1000 IU per drop) are very dangerous. A drop is not precise and you could easily be dosing 30,000 IU instead of 10,000 IU. Use standard 1000 IU tablets or, better yet, get out in the sun.

At 12:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have a most interesting blog here. I ran across it while looking for information on vitamin D overdosing. Permit me to explain. For most of my 63 years of life I placed vitamins, supplements, and health foods into the same category as snake oil. As a child in the 50’s my mother, like many mothers, dutifully administered Homocebrin daily, an early vitamin supplement. Over the following 40 to 50 years I used no supplements. In 2001 I was diagnosed with B Cell Lymphoma and told that I would die within two years without treatment. This diagnosis was done both locally in Florida and confirmed via a second opinion and major surgery to recover a biopsy at The Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota. I declined treatment after observing firsthand the effects of chemo and radiation, as well as the actual poor performance of these treatments. Instead I put my affairs in order opting to die at home. My local physician encouraged me to enroll in hospice. Hospice is a little disgruntled with me as I told them I would call them when I needed them, but in the meanwhile I returned to work and to life, ignoring their advice.

Also I have suffered from both pneumonia and bronchitis since my early twenties, being hospitalized several times. On other non-hospital occasions, these problems were resolved using antibiotics. In 2007 I read an article about vitamin D, specifically D3, in the possible prevention of upper respiratory infections. While always being willing to self experiment with low cost products, I started taking 10,000 IU daily. I have had no further lung infections since starting this. That being said, the D3 intake does not alone make the case to “prove” cause and effect. Other than elevated blood pressure, I have had no other noticeable side effects from using this high level of D3.

Of other interest to those who may run across this invaluable blog, there is now a privately funded study whose subject is specifically vitamin D. This can be found at:
This five year study is a worldwide survey of people including measured vitamin D levels of those who wish partake in it. The serum level home use collection kits are used to measure actual vitamin D levels. The cost is $40US for the lab work conducted by a well known medical lab with the results (blood levels) sent to the participants as well as used in the study. Recent studies numerically indicate a substantial drop in many cancer rates seemingly pointing to Vitamin D use. This study is to verify the past indications and get a handle on realistic levels. The reason it is privately funded is that pharmaceutical manufactures not only cannot make money on vitamins, but if vitamins can indeed ward off many diseases their future sales will suffer. I would encourage others to at least read the information they provide.

Each one of us humans differs slightly. There appears to be no normal or average person. I cannot explain why, contrary to expert opinion, I continue to live with reasonable happiness. While too weak to do the vigorous things I once did, life continues to be most satisfying, peaceful, and interesting.
Al Sledge

At 2:27 PM, Anonymous Dave said...

Thank you for posting this, Steve.

I have been exposed recently to someone with pneumonia and to someone with Swine Flu and I began to feel ill two days ago.

I took a strong dose of Echinacea and Goldenseal tincture that evening and that seemed to help, though it gave me a headache (could be a reaction to the grain alcohol since I never drink) and it made me a little nauseous.

So, the next day, I searched for something else to take and stumbled upon Vitamin D.

The Vitamin D Council says to take Vitamin D3 at 1,000–2,000 units/kg per day for three days at the first sign of flu. For me, that’s 140,000 IU each day.

So, yesterday, I laid out in the sun for 15-minutes (20,000 to 40,000 IU) and later I took 100,000 IU of the Carlson D-Drops (D3) – that’s 50 drops!

100,000IU is a lot of Vitamin D so, before I took it, I scoured the web and found very few examples of people having issues with Vitamin D. I did find mounds of information on Vitamin D’s benefits – even at high doses.

Today, I feel better – no sign of flu or pneumonia.

However, I had the following symptoms last night, 5-6 hours after taking the 100,000 IU of Vitamin D3: some muscle soreness in my back and neck, tenderness in a few vertebrae (heart level), some mild sharp pain in the eyes, and the whites of my eyes turned a little red.

The eyes are normal this morning. The muscle and vertebrae are still sore. If symptoms get worse over the next week, I will post them here. Wish I had seen this blog yesterday.

I will not take another high-dose of Vitamin D today and will lay off all Vitamin D for a while.

I plan to have blood levels tested: the 25-hydroxyvitamin D test or 25(OH)D. Here is a quote from the Vitamin D Council website (

“Unfortunately, about 20% of United States doctors order the wrong test. They order a 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D, thinking that by measuring the most potent steroid in the human body, calcitriol, they are getting useful information. They are not. 1,25-dihydroxy-vitamin D is an adaptive hormone; it goes up and down with calcium intake."

Here is a self-test for Vitamin D levels:

Here is Mercola’s take on showering after sun exposure:

Thanks to everyone for posting their experiences.


At 5:20 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Mr Sledge,

Thanks so much for your comments. I already signed up at, filled out the questionaire, and purchased the blood test kits.

I hope continue to maintain your current health.

At 5:23 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for stopping by with your comments. I'm glad that the vitamin D was effective at warding off the cold. In addition to vitamin D, I use vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine to ward off colds.

At 7:38 PM, Blogger Veda said...

Steve, I have to say a profound THANK YOU for this blog. You've saved me from going crazy! I googled "overdose of Vit D symptoms" and that's how I found your great blog.
How it all came about is that my wife and I had just written an e-book called THE FLU FIGHTER'S MANUAL on natural alternatives for the flu. One of the studies we found was research demonstrating that 2000IU of Vitamin D3 a day had virtually eradicated the flu from a high risk group, elderly Afrian-American women (typically low levels of Vit D3 and high incidence of flu). So we both started taking 2000IU Vitamin D3 a day.

Well, I felt great for a week. But then I started getting weird heart palpitations. I was also feeling lighheaded, like I was about to faint. It was very disturbing. I was thinking blocked arteries or brain tumor or just going crazy!

My doctor prescribed blood tests - but they all came back normal. He listened to my heart and said it sounded normal. He suggested it might be stress. But thanks to you I am now convinced it's an excess of Vit D3 so I've stopped.

Needless to say we are going to add a note about possible Vit D overdose symptoms to THE FLU FIGHTER's MANUAL.

At 9:04 PM, Blogger Steve said...


You're most welcome. I'm struggling to understand how it could be possible that mainstream medical sites don't all have similar information. Of course, if they did, I wouldn't have written this blog.

The height of irony is that I started this blog to advocate the benefits of taking high doses of vitamin supplements. I had no intention of focusing attention on the dangers of vitamin supplements.

It is equally ironic that I, as an advocate for high dose vitamin supplements, recommend against taking vitamin D supplements. I get my vitamin D from the sun and recommend that others follow my example.

I wish I could generate such a large comment string at my posts about the benefits of taking high doses of vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine. I'm particularly proud of my advocacy work to use vitamin supplements and sunshine to prevent cavities and anorexia. Just type "prevent anorexia" into Google. My blog comes up on the first page.

At 10:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've read the the original post, and about 8 of the responses to it.

One thing that strikes me as very important is the total focus on one subject: Vitamin D.

But our "nutritional" habits are multifaceted. Each person has nutritional habits that are significantly different from others. And yet, there is one common nutritional habit that is often overlooked.

I would like to throw a bit of cold water on the face of this discussion.

Many of the symptoms of Vitamin D deficiency, and toxicity can also be expressed by another common drug that many of us take in excess.

Mental acuity, weakness, muscle pains, chest pains, heart palpitations, and many other symptoms can also be attributed to:


I used to be a total caffeine addict, and my personal experience shows that caffeine affects the way people think in a subtle but very significant way.

I will not talk about the energizing effect of caffeine, that's well known. What is not well known is the physiological effects of caffeine and the mental effects.

Many of the symptoms showing Vitamin D overdosing can be expressed similarly by caffeine.

And 80% to 90% of us dose ourselves with caffeine to varying degrees. The longer a person is using caffeine, the more likely that person is overdosing on it. Eventually signs of caffeinism show up and the toxic effects are similar to Vitamin D toxicity symptoms.

Finally, Caffeine has a profound effect on mental perceptions. By my personal (and therefore admittedly anecdotal) experience, caffeine narrows the mental focus. This narrowing of focus makes people discount "less important" information, and heightens the sense of "more important" information. The scary part is... what is chosen to be less or more important is highly subjective and biased by preconceptions. It encourages unreasonable obsessive behaviour as a result.

If you are using caffeine... I highly recommend you try weaning yourself completely off of it. I can almost guarantee you will have less symptoms.

For 28-years, my addiction to caffeine became progressively larger. It affected the way my mind worked, and to this day I'm still recovering from those 28-years of caffeinated habits. Caffeine-free now for nearly 10 months and the difference is astounding. Mental clarity is slowly returning.

Blaming Vitamin D while on caffeine is significantly questionable. I had my blood tested for Vitamin D deficiency. Mine was exceptionally low.

I forced myself into the sunlight everyday 1-2 hours per day for two months. No supplements. Retesting showed "normal" levels of Vitamin D. In winter, levels dropped again. Vitamin D supplementation of 1000 to 2000 IU per day solved that.

Sunlight + Supplementation is overkill. That's obvious. Only take Vitamin D when you know you are deficient. Makes sense?

I've been to a lot of blogs, where people are reporting the same symptoms attributable to caffeine. And it's my strong opinion that the vast majority of people on caffeine are obsessing about "what's wrong with them" due to this pervasive drug.

Don't believe me? Try quitting caffeine, wean yourself off, and stick to it. I promise it will make a huge difference in your life.

While I was on caffeine, I believed in all kinds of crazy things about my health. Things so crazy I would be afraid to tell you of them here. They were truly crazy.

If you are not on caffeine... then chances are high you have real concerns which are valid.

On the final note... Vitamin D works in moderate doses. Sunlight can easily give the fair skinned up to 20,000 IUs a day. Supplementation beyond 2000 IUs a day is totally unnecessary. If you haven't had your Vitamin D level checked... then you don't know what you are doing to your body with the supplements.

Work it smart instead of over-thinking it. Caffeine is great for over-thinking things. Think about that!

At 6:33 PM, Anonymous Bex said...

Hi Steve,

Thanks for your response. Yes, 6 weeks is a very long time and it's still going strong now! Over 2 months worth. I know it is the vitamin D, because that's when it started and the symptoms have remained ever since. I have never had anything like this before! I also find I get much worse if I consume foods like liver (which contains vitamin D). Yet liver has never posed a problem before.

I thought I was feeling "somewhat" better and stupidly tried my multivitamin/mineral supplement, I got much worse again - almost immediately. So I've "relapsed". all because there was "some" calcium and vitamin D contained in it. Not alot though and I only had half the amount of it.

I have been to a local doctor and he agrees the symptoms coincide with vitamin D toxicity. But he says that it is unusual and may indicate my body is not metabolising it properly. This would make sense because I have the same problem with toxins.

My kidney/calcium/vitamin D blood tests came through normal. So I'm bewildered.... But that's how it is.

I am headacey, nauseous, dry mouth, loss of appetite, moody, depressed, bone tired, acid reflux, somewhat constipated (whereas before it was diarrohea). I have no energy for anything and am finding it hard to think clearly also.

So this is one of the worst experiences I've had yet! I hope to never go through this again.

At 10:09 AM, Blogger eric said...

This is so interesting. I live in London Uk and have been a follower
of Dr. Mercola on and off. With the
threat of swine flu i put all my
husband, myself and my 2 sons aged 19 and 24 on 2,400 units. This was
4 weeks ago. In the meantime my son at Oxford University started to devlop flu like symptoms - but no
temperature. I advised him to take
a large dose - c. 50,000 units. Since
then his flu symptoms have cleared up,
but he is feeling weird and listless and has absolutely no energy.I am sure this is his problem and feel really guilty !
He is 3 essays behind !! I just told him to stop !! I also developed bad upper right gastric discomfort which is worrying .
I will stop D right Away ! And never give a personal recomendation again. Obviously it works for some and others feel lousy. Thank you all for such a
great source of shared information.

At 8:40 PM, Blogger Steve said...


I'm so sorry about how slowly your vitamin D side effects are going away. You didn't tell me whether or not you found any of my previous suggestions helpful. These were:

Stay out of the sun.
Strenuous physical exercise
Extra fluids

I'm assuming you have taken me up on my offer and returned for further advice. Avoiding the sun is really important. You might want to consider wearing a veil and sun glasses and avoiding the outdoors between 10 and 2.

As you mentioned, calcium is a problem and is contained in many foods. You might want to consider fasting for three days on a single, simple food. Once every several years I eat only oatmeal for 3 days. I eat as much as I want, but nothing else. Just oatmeal and water. Note this will accomplish the objective of the commenter above of eliminating caffeine (and everything else in your diet that may have some unexpected interaction with vitamin D).

My final suggestion for now is to visit a sauna to increase your need for fluids. If none of this works well, report back again and I'll try to come up with more suggestions.

At 8:45 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for your advice regarding caffeine. It is sound advice. Nutrition is complex and everyone has to look out for themselves.

Avoiding caffeine is is a specific example of a highly advisable general principle. There are hundreds of potential toxins in the diet that can cause unexpected intereactions with essential nutrients. As a result, it is an excellent idea to occassionally (once every several years) go on a three day fast where you only eat a single, simple food (e.g. white rice or oatmeal). I do the oatmeal diet. For three days I eat only oatmeal and water. If I feel much better then I know I'm eating something that is mildly toxic or a mild allergen.

Thanks again for your comment.

At 12:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good article. And thank you for sharing all your side effects. What would be on the most interest is your current blood levels of 25(OH) of vitamin D and your side effects. the most optimum 50–80 ng/ml. Check out stories about swine flu and vitamin D.

At 6:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting discussion on Vitamin D. I was diagnosed with Vit D deficiency the beginning of summer. I was told to take 5,000 IU a day for a month, which I did. At that point I wasn't sure what dose to take so based on what my wife was told to do by her physician I began taking 2,000IU a day. After several months without any negative symptoms I began just a week ago to notice a metallic taste which I had never experienced before. I suspected that it was the Vit D. So that is when I did a search and came across your blog -thank you! The list you gave from the Mayo Clinic included this symptom. The only other syymptom that I can attribute to the Vit D is that of unusually loud episodes of tinnitus. The only other change that has occured recently is that is some insomnia - which appears to be the opposite of what the Mayo Clinic, you and others have reported. So I don't know if I can attribute this to the Vit D. I can say that my level of alertness and energy level seems to have increased while on extra Vit D. So maybe maybe not.

At 10:30 PM, Blogger Dan Patrick said...

Vitamin D has also been correlated with a wide range of neurocognitive diseases, interestingly enough. Check out for a review of some of that.

At 8:44 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a link to a post at the vitamin D council with recent evidence showing the ability of vitamin D to prevent influenza.

Regarding your suggestion to get vitamin D levels tested, I'm not sure I think that's such a good idea. I'm not sure what the test proves. If you are out in the sun on a regular basis, it would be very worrysome to have a test showing severe vitamin D deficiency. On the other hand, if you are experiencing vitamin D side effects and unable to take more (or get more sunshine), then it would be equally worrysome to see a vitamin D serum test within the range of normal. Seems to me that if you're getting regular sunshine and are in excellent health, then vitamin D test results are irrelevant. If you're in poor health, I'd recommend pushing vitamin D right up to the threshold of side effects. Again, testing would not help guide behavior. Vitamin D testing, like much medical testing, is just an expensive, worrysome procedure. This sort of testing philosophy is not for me.

At 8:46 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for stopping by. Thanks especially for your comment that vitamin D may be causing insomnia (not on the list in the column). I'm glad you brought this up because I've also experienced insomnia caused by vitamin D. I'm going to add it to the side effects in the main column. Thanks again.


At 10:54 PM, Blogger Dawn said...

Thankyou so so much for this blog.
I am a sufferer of Hashimotos and balancing between the thyroid hormones and Vitamin D is terribly difficult. I find that the vitamin D stimulates the thyroid. I had the heart palps very badly and lowered my thyroid hormones and it relieved it a lot. However because I normally need these hormones for FM pain it has resulted in my sore spots coming back. I digress.
When I first took the 50,000iu weeks dose of D3 I had a terrible time, I was anxious, panic attacks in bed, bone pain, flulike. It eased off and I felt great, my asthma was much better and I did the 50000iu during the following week in gelcaps I bought split into 3 but I still suffered. My son also suffered, we also became very how can I say it 'soft' any pain and we moaned a lot about it lol, previouly we could take a hard knock in martial arts and not even wimper, now we were feeling very much like wimpering with our nerves and our physical pains. We found the great boost in energy though when these subsided so we carried on with it. I went onto 4000iu plus a codliver oil per day, he continued the 50,000 iu and for a couple of weeks took it twice due to illnesses he wished to avoid. We are both unsteady, dizzy and lightheaded now. My son has terrible itchy legs and anxiety. I feel sick, slight headache, sleeping 16 hours a day as is my son, we are so fatigued. I would have put that down to my thyroid normally. I also thought I was having a Hashis attack because of the feeling in my throat but it seems that the epiglottis feeling is the vitamin D. Even on my lower thyroid hormone I am feeling my heart thump quite a lot. Cannot stand the light and having to use artificial tears a lot as I have what I thought was an eye infection but apparently that is due to vit D also, I would never have put gritty, sensitive, 'feel infected' eyes down to vitamin D so thanks so much I would have gone on taking this in ignorance. am very very annoyed at the Vitamin D council for ignoring my emails asking about side effects, they make you think it is all great and don't warn about any of this, almost as though they had an agenda although I cannot imagine what it would be.
My bones are aching and I feel nauseous so I will stop typing now, you are probably glad lol. Oh and I also had a few very bad tempered flares over the last couple of weeks too which I didn't understand and I am up all night going to urinate.
Thanks once again for the warning to stop at this time and I will try a lower dose at some point in the future as I was flagged very very low as was my son, he was even worse, both with low calcium.
take care and keep up the good work

At 6:31 AM, Anonymous Bex said...

Hi Steve,

Just reporting back. Yes, I found your suggestions helpful! I forgot to mention I had already been using them, after doing alot of reading about what can make the problem worse. I have stayed out of the sun, have kept off supplements containing calcium/vitamin D and keep up an exercise regime. I cannot overdo exercise, because I already suffer a fatigue condition, so I do what I can within reason. I am also drinking enough fluids daily and often I do anyway because of the thirst that the toxicity caused me. I have been consuming more raw vegetables and noticed some interesting detox type reactions after eating them.

I don't know if it's all those things, or time or both, but I feel I maybe now improving. It's been 2 and a half months (thereabouts). So if anybody has had an impact like mine? I hope this gives some encouragement and hopefully they will not take as long to improve. But I have read it can take that long or more in some cases. So it's not entirely unheard of.

I haven't done any fasting and I cannot consume grains of any kind. I have a bad candida problem and can only tolerate a very low carb diet.

But thanks for the extra tips anyway! It's hard to believe it's taken THIS long to start noticing more improvement. I'm still tentative though and am still not too keen on trying things out just yet..... I felt I did relapse awhile back after trying out my multi supplement, which was probably too soon.

The only supplements I currently take are vitamin C powder, vitamin E, iodine (due to low iodine in New Zealand), vitamin B complex, fish oil, selenium, magnesium and a liver support/detox supplement. I "seem" ok on thse. So that plus my diet, exercise, fluid intake, and time, I think I'm finally coming right!


At 9:01 PM, Blogger Steve said...


You'll see a couple of comments above casting doubts on vitamin D side effects. The commenters take 5000 to 10000 IU/day doses without side effects and conclude that the rest of us are mistaken. We are not.

To those who think vitamin D isn't toxic my reply is take more. There is a dose at which everyone gets side effects. This dose is simply much higher for some people than others.

The most logical explanation is that vitamin D activists are typically very tolerant of vitamin D and really don't understand about the side effects.

I'm sorry to hear about your health problems. I hope you'll read my other blog entries and try optimizing vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine in addition to vitamin D. Working together, these four vitamins that prevent pandemic deficiency diseases have a better chance of making you feel better than using any one of them alone.

Thanks again for stopping by,


At 9:12 PM, Blogger Steve said...


I'm so glad to hear you are feeling better. I'm sorry that you are struggling with your health.

You are still taking alot of different supplements. I used to take alot more supplements. Now I only take vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine on a regular basis. I get my vitamin D almost exclusively from sunshine.

The four vitamins I take are the only four to prevent a pandemic human deficiency disease. I recommend mastering these four vitamins before progressing to other supplements. I've been working away now for over three years and am still adjusting doses of vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine.

Fish is a rich source of vitamin D. Make sure that the fish oil your are taking is really pure omega fatty acids and that it does not contain any vitamin D.

Isn't the salt in New Zealand iodized? Are you sure that isn't enough? Like vitamin D, minerals are highly toxic in overdose.

I'm generally suspicious of liver support/detox formulations. Are you sure you need this? If so, how?

The only supplements on your list that I have no concerns about are vitamin C and magnesium. This is another reason to try a three day fast. Grains are not necessary. You could substitute a legume. Just potatoes or just lentils, or just white beans.


At 1:30 AM, Anonymous sandra said...

when my blood glucose dropped to 40, I found that my D3 was 25. so I started w 2,000 vit d 3. took 8 mos to stop the symtpoms of hypoglycemia attack starting: itching, blurred vision, nausea, palpitations, apathy, fatigue. I can test this by eating carbs and waiting for the symptoms. I then upped my vit d3. when I got itching, I upped it more until I was taking 16,000U a day. then my CA was 114. so I stopped the calcium and magnesium (new study says that taking ca and mag together can cause high vit d3) and started taking iodoral (iodine lugols solution in tablet form) 1 pill (12.5) did nothing. 2 pulls (25) seemd to make my bp go down a bit. 3 pills makes me gassy so I take 3 one day and 2 the next. my bp has gone down now so that I can again take 2 pills every 12 hours as advised instead of taking 5-8 tabs in 24 hours. so which is it? low iodine that cuases hypoglycemia or vit D3 deficiency. any ideas? thanks

At 10:00 AM, Blogger Margo Askew said...

I am a white female 65 yrs old and recently diagnosed with Vita D level of 21. Dr. put me on 50,000 IU 3 times a week. I have been taking this for 2month and am suppose to continue for another month. I have had almost every symptom except the heart palpitations and pain. I am still taking calcium and magnesium supplements separately since I get no dairy and was getting severe leg cramps at night. Neither have added Vit D. Is this a problem. My
info sheet with prescription said no vitamins including calcium. I thought that just meant if Vita D was included. I take all vit. separately since I have a real problem with ascorbic acid. I have many food intolerance's also so must be very careful with what I take. The newest symptom I am now having is real sensitivity to light and blurred vision. Just had my eyes checked and have new glasses with 20-20 vision. I am stopping the Vit. D until I can get help figuring it out. Thanks for any help you can give me.

At 6:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the first piece I've read on the internet from someone who's had symptoms similar to mine. Even on doses as low as 1000 iu's I experience chest tightness, nausea, and headache along with a weird metallic taste in my mouth.

Most sites I've searched haven't mentioned side effects like this at doses that low but now I see that I'm not the only one. It's amazing just how noticeable the symptoms are. Like clockwork I get them about 30 minutes after supplementation.

I should point out that Vitamin D has been getting a lot of good press lately and that most proponents of additional supplementation seem to stress that one needs to find optimal dosages via proper blood testing. Dr. Cannell who is a huge proponent of Vitamin D has even stated that he's had 250 lb. patients who only needed 500 iu's per day to treat deficiency and other patients who are much smaller needing over 5000 iu's.

I still think Vitamin D supplementation can be valuable for many but only after finding a proper dosage through a physician who's willing to do bloodwork.

At 8:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The results of my blood test showed a Vitamin D level of 23.7 (range 32.0-100.0). I was given a prescription of four-50000IU caps to be taken one per week: followed by one cap per month (apparently ad infinitum).

About a week after I had taken the second cap, my legs and feet started swelling, eventually into a strut. The skin over my insteps, foot sides and ankles are red tinted. Merciless itching started around the same time from the welts on back of my neck down to my shoulders, back, arms, hands and thighs. I'm unable to sleep.

It didn't occur to me that I might be having an reaction to the Vit D. I took the last of the four initial caps on 31 Oct. At this time I'm awaiting a response to my phone call to my doctor as to what to next.

I hope this info will help someone else who has some or all of the same symptom get to their doctor right away to avoid this painful experience.

At 8:08 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for your comments. Especially the comment, "like clockwork I get these symptoms 30 minutes after taking a 1000 IU dose of vitamin D." Somewhere up the thread there were several comments questioning whether the side effects were really from vitamin D. Your words are the key. I have exactly the same experience. I also have side effects 15 to 30 minutes after taking a 1000 IU vitamin D tablet. There's just no question the side effects are real.

I reached a very different conclusion from yours. Vitamin D is vital to health. High doses have clear benefits. I concluded that vitamin D pills are grossly inferior to sunshine. I have to make a major effort to get into the sun often enough to get regular, substantial doses (averaging several thousand IU/day if the sun/skin studies are to be believed). When I get enough sun, my teeth feel healthy. I have only the faintest of negative side effects. I don't need blood testing because I can tell from my teeth whether or not I'm getting enough. I don't know what I'd do with the results of a blood test. If it was low, I couldn't raise it with supplements without terrible side effects that I'm unwilling to suffer. If it was too high, why would I care? Who says it is too high? I'm in excellent health for the first time in my life and my teeth feel great. I have no plans to change my sunbathing habits.


At 8:15 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for your comments. If you read my comment above, you'll see that I'm a big believer in the benefits of vitamin D, but am also becoming against vitamin D supplements at any dose. Granted, that's rather extreme and I still take 1000 IU vitamin D tablets when fighting a cold.

I hope that the FDA is reading this blog (or politicians, or someone in power). Stop manufacturing super high potency vitamin D supplements such as the 50,000 IU tablets you've been taking. They are highly toxic. If they are manufactured, they will be prescribed by an unsuspecting physician and swallowed by an unsuspecting patient and many more miserable tales will result. Why is this so difficult? How many more have to suffer?


At 8:23 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Margo,

I'm am sorry that you are not well. If you browse through my other blog columns, you'll see that I think you should focus on sunshine, thiamine, niacin, and vitamin C. Sound like you already have a good understanding of your tolerance for vitamin C. You now know that vitamin D supplements are likely to cause you problems as well, so you'll need to get most of your vitamin D from sunshine. I get into the sun close to noon most sunny days for 10 to 30 minutes with minimal clothing. Don't ask me how I manage - it's a big effort and I'm ashamed to say I hide my habits from my colleagues at work. This is the world we live in - I have to sneak around to be healthy. I highly recommend that you purchase thiamine cream (the active ingredient is a fat soluble form of thiamine called TTFD) and follow the instructions on the label. As for niacin, try starting with three 250 mg time release niacin tablets per week (make sure you don't take regular niacin at 250 mgs. If you do, you'll experience a terrible flushing/burning feeling about 15 minutes after taking the tablet). If you take the niacin, please read my blog on niacin side effects.

Good luck and feel free to come on back with more questions.


At 8:26 PM, Blogger Steve said...


See my advice for Margo. While you are experimenting with vitamin C, niacin, thiamine, and sunshine, I'd recommend minimizing other supplements.


At 7:04 PM, Blogger christy said...

I see that this is an old blog, but I have some vitamin D toxicity questions. I couldn't figure out how to e-mail you.

At 8:18 PM, Blogger Steve said...


There is no way to e-mail me from this blog. I'd prefer it if you asked your questions as another comment.


At 1:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At 5:19 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for stopping by. I'm glad you found the post useful. Having read the post, are you sure you want to take supplements instead of getting extra sunshine?

Hopefully you have found that the extra vitamin D has provided some benefits. To maintain these benefits you need to continue substantial doses of vitamin D. Getting vitamin D from sunshine provides the equivalent of several thousand IU's per day without the risk of side effects.

Do you agree? If not, come on back and let's continue the conversation.


At 10:02 PM, Blogger christy said...

Hi Steve,
Ok...I'll just do the comments then. I thought we were supposed to e-mail first. I apologize ahead of time as this might be long.

Anyway...I am so glad that I found your blog awhile ago because I thought I was going crazy. I started taking 4000 IU of vitamin D3 around the end of September. About 2-3 weeks later all of the sudden I suffered extreme claustrophobia type of anxiety attacks while on vacation in Japan. I thought it was because I was anxious about being out of the country so I came home. Unfortunately the attacks continued. Along with and extreme dry mouth and diarrhea (spelling?)and frequent urination, which is probably from all the water I'm drinking and lack of appetite. I've lost 7 lbs in this process. I tried to think of what was different in my life that could have caused all this and the only thing I could come up with was the vitamin D. So I completely stopped supplementing on Oct 22. I had also been taking fish oil pills off and on for about a year and then right around the vitamin D time I started liquid fish oil once a day. I stopped that on Oct. 25th just in case there was some hidden vitamin D in that too. I was also suffering insomnia and my body would not relax upon trying to sleep. My body would jerk and try to stay awake. I had many nights of no sleep which of course made the anxiety worse. The anxiety has continued only it is not quite as bad as it was in the beginning. Now it is more like a constant low level stress on most days. It seems to be worse in the afternoons and early evening and diminishes late in the evening. I'm trying to exercise, but don't have time many days or the energy. I only supplement with vitamin C and magnesium right now. And I am on Clonazepam in the evenings to sleep. Also, yesterday I saw a Naturopath and he gave me some homeopathic things to take for stress that I'm hoping will work.

I really wish I would have had my Vitamin D levels checked first before supplementing! I am a fish eater...tuna about 2 times a week and salmon, halibut or tilapia about 2-3 times a week prior to the supplementing. I haven't had any fish since quitting the D. I was also eating lots of butter on my popcorn about 3 times a week. I'm ashamed to say about 1/2 a cube of butter all to myself on the popcorn. I don't drink milk and I almost never eat cheese. I am not supposed to have dairy or eggs. So now it has been a month since quitting and I still don't feel like myself. I wonder if some people take longer to get it out of their systems? {like BEX) I am thin and wondering if that is working against me it's hanging on it it somehow. What do you think? Any more tips? I am starting to get depressed that this is never going to go away. The stress is just so hard to deal with.
Thanks for listening to my long drawn out story.

At 7:42 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for writing. Cases like yours are especially important to document because they combine classic side effects with unusual symptoms. The dry mouth, intestinal problems, and frequent urination are all classic vitamin D side effects. Have these side effects gone away?

The severe anxiety and stress is not a typical side effect. I'm concerned that the vitamin D triggered your anxiety. This is different from a side effect. For some reason, you may have been/be prone to anxiety and this vitamin D caused incident has set it off. That would explain why the anxiety is not going away despite quitting vitamin D. You've clearly done the right thing and visited a physician who has prescribed Clonazepam and is monitoring your condition. In addition to this care, I'd recommend that you read my blog items on vitamin C, vitamin D, niacin, and thiamine. You're already taking vitamin C. You may want to consider adding in niacin and thiamine.

I hope you feel better soon,


At 12:15 PM, Blogger christy said...

Thanks for your response Steve,

Yes, for the most part the other symptoms have mostly gone away. I still have some slight dizziness, and frequent urination. The dizziness might be a side effect of the Clonazepam. I only take it at night. The anxiety has definitely gotten better. After quitting the D the anxiety changed to more like feeling nervous. Not constantly, but off and on. Enough to really make me frustrated that I'm not feeling normal. From what I've read on the net, that is one of the symptoms of D toxcity. Maybe some of us who are prone to stress are affected by it that way? I am happy to say though, that the last two days were pretty darn normal and I was praising the Lord for that!

There is a site by a person who has a website called, "Vitamin D recovery" and he had a very similar attack like mine, where he felt claustrophobic anxiety for 3 weeks. He was on fish oil with D in it. When I read that , that's when I quit the fish oil too. He believes supplementing is important to him, but he is doing it very slowly. Here is his site, if you care to read it. Type control F and anxiety and you'll see the paragraph I am talking about.

For me, I want to believe it's the D and it's just taking a little longer to leave my body. Since I most likely didn't need it.
Like I said, they attacks are milder and getting less.

Also another interesting thing to note. My daughter went in awhile ago for generalized anxiety and was prescribed Prozac. In the process the doctor checked her D levels and said she was extremly high...higher than he'd ever seen in someone her age, she is 26 and does not supplement. She doesn't drink milk, although she eats cereal with milk and eats some cheese. We live in Washington where we don't see the sun much.
Thanks for this blog!

At 8:47 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for your reply. I'm glad you are feeling better. Thanks for the URL. I will read it carefully this weekend.

Please be careful what you mean when you say you don't need vitamin D. You certainly don't need supplements. I don't think anyone does. Provided you're feeling better, I would recommend that you see how you feel with increasing levels of sun exposure during the summer.

Your story about your daughter is very unusual. You did not report that she has any of the common vitamin D side effects. And she has no reason to have any vitamin D side effects since she does not eat a diet rich in vitamin D, take supplements, or get alot of sunshine. I'd get her vitamin D levels checked using a different lab than was used for the first test before I concluded that your daughter has high levels of vitamin D in her blood.

Thanks again for your contribution to the comment string.


At 9:31 PM, Blogger christy said...

Thanks Steve,
Yes, I agree that I do need vitamin D, what I meant by that was that I was not in need of supplementing at tjhe time. When the sun comes out, I will try to get out in it everyday. I usually do in the spring and summer when it's nice.
About my daughter, you may be right.

I will be reading your other blogs on the supplementing of C and other supplements you recommend. Thanks so much for your input.

At 8:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been taking 3000IU supplement of Vit D for 3 months. Lately I've had the runs of irregular heartbeat & something no one else mentions - hot flashes & flushing. I'm 8yrs out from menopause. Could this be associated with Vit D as well?
Thank you

At 6:41 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

Yes. The flushing/hot flashes could certainly be from vitamin D. I would place these symptoms in the category of itching skin which is on the list. The only way to know for sure is to stop the vitamin D supplements. If vitamin D is the cause, the symptoms will gradually subside. Then rechallenge with vitamin D and see if the symptoms re-emerge.

When you're ready to confirm that the hot flashes and flushing are a vitamin D side effect, please come back to the blog and let us know.




At 10:36 AM, Anonymous Iyar5728 said...

This blog is interesting…I have studied ancient medicine for 20 years Middle Eastern and Asian. The claims and symptoms here are far and wide but one thing is certain, something is wrong and everyone is pointing the finger at Vitamin D.

While it is true that most people respond differently to vitamin intake I have found no brute proof that Vitamin D is the sole culprit of these symptoms.

Vitamin D3 will boost your energy levels very much like caffeine, if you’re caffeine intake is high or your on some high protein energy drink etc…you will experience anxiety attacks – increase heart rate….
If you’re on allergy meds or even medications in general can add to those types of symptoms.

What is your stress level? Your serotonin – dopamine and norepinephrine may be off balance and you lack good diet and exercise or just the opposite – you’re overworking your body and not getting enough REM sleep. Most body aches from the average Joe is usually a physical routine that does not involve stretching.

Some questions should be directed at the individual like “why did you start taken that vitamin to begin with?” What was wrong that you felt the need to increase your Vitamin D intake? Are you a diabetic? Are you on any medications even over the counter meds? Do you smoke? Do you drink alcohol? How much sugar is in your daily diet?

With respect to body aches and sore muscles, typically when your body starts to develop those symptoms and your exercise routine has not changed, then your body may be adjusting to the new vitamin intake and now you lack Potassium. “Fixing one problem and discover you have another” There is a period of adjusting provided your attempting to balance your intake with your diet. Very much like working out to derive a certain result, obviously your muscles will ache. Do you stop working out?

The bottom line in my opinion is that vitamin D is no more toxic than the junk food you eat on a daily bases. If your true concern is toxicity then I recommend you change your diet & exercise: (first and far most, if you’re on meds you should always check to see what natural foods interact with them..)

1. A low glycemic intake (measure your vitamin intake from your diet)
2. Check your PH Balance once a week (till you find a balance)
3. Lay off the hydronated and processed foods (good luck)
4. Frozen veggies are better than caned veggies
5. Limit your Red Meat intake
6. Maintain a daily exercise routine that involves sweating
7. Get out and get Sun & Fresh Air
8. Balance out your daily stress
9. Get 8 hours of REM sleep a day
10. Give up smoking
11. Control your alcohol intake
12. Increase your water intake
13. Seriously reduce the fried food intake (olive oil fried foods tend to be a better choice)
14. Loose the microwave it kills the nutrients in your foods
15. Loose the non-stick cook ware it is toxic (is cheaper better than your health)
16. Organic green foods are good (organic farmers have different approach to organic growth – look into it)
17. Reduce your salt/sodium intake
18. Avoid drinking or eating hot anything out of Styrofoam (toxic)
19. Avoid eating or drinking anything stored in plastic that has a chemical smell to it (it will be obvious)

If you get this far then your body will talk to you in various ways, for example:

1. If your gums start to bleed a lot or you get a cut on the skin and you bleed longer than usual, this is a sign that your blood is too thin…(Garlic – Asprin etc…) are natural thinners and you should cut back.

2. If your gums are not pink then you should increase your iron gently. (With foods rather than supplements)

3. If your skin is scaly and dry then you lack fluids and minerals – drink more water and add an electrolyte once in awhile. A slight increase of biotin will help as well.

4. If your muscles just hurt and or fatigue then gently increase your potassium intake naturally with foods like banana and or baby spinach etc…

Overall good luck in balancing out your Vitamin D….

At 9:14 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Lyar,

Thanks for your comments. I want to respond to this point you made:

"The bottom line in my opinion is that vitamin D is no more toxic than the junk food you eat on a daily basis."

It is difficult to kill yourself eating a single serving of junk food. Vitamin D deserves respect for acute toxicity. The RDA for vitamin D - 400 IU - is just 10 micrograms. 100 mg is a small sized tablet. 100 mg of vitamin D is a lethal dose.

Your inexperience with the toxicity of vitamin D rests on a paradigm you have about vitamin D dosage. You avoid doses that cause problems. I have to assume that you take a substantial dose - say 4000 IU per day - and havent had any side effects after years of this behavior. You are therefore reasoning that no one else should have problems since you don't. The thing is, you'll have the same problems as the rest of us if you just increase your dose. For someone like you, I am forced to observe that if you were to up your dosage to 40,000 IU vitamin D per day (still just 1 mg/day!) and keep it up for a while, then you would experience the side effects we are discussing too.


At 8:58 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

I began taking vit. d 10000IU/day for the past month or so. I am hypoglycemic and have always had muscle twitching as a result of low magensium levels( sugar lowers magensium levels). Since starting on vit. d I have noticed that when I eat a lot of high calcium foods and not watching my magnesium level ie. my calcium/ magnesium ratio is off, that the muscle twitching increases as well as headaches ect. Symptoms of vit. d toxicity results from hypercalcemia or high calcium levels. The problem may be that we have signs of toxicity (constipation, arrythmias ect), but still have low vit. d levels because of an increase in calcium absorption from vit. d supplementation along with eating lots of calcium rich foods but few magnesium rich foods. I feel that when one is on vit. d supplementation you should also carefully watch your calcium/magnesium ratio. Eat a diet lower in calcium and higher in magneisum.Remember that part of the treatment for vit. d toxicity is a low calcium diet.

At 9:13 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for your input. If you are suffering from vitamin D side effects, reducing calcium in addition to vitamin D is recommended. This has been commented upon several times previously up the comment string.

I don't have a position on calcium to magnesium ratio - and other important minerals and mineral ratios. I'm not aware of much data to a position one way or another. Too much vitamin D will cause side effects regardless of calcium to magnesium ratios. I believe that getting vitamin D levels right will prove far more important than further optimizing calcium to magnesium ratios.

Get the big stuff right before sweating the small stuff.


At 11:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Trying to find an answer..
My mother, 86, was recently prescribed 50,000 iu of vitamin D. Her number was low at nine. She is on two medications for high blood pressure and she has type II diabetes. She has been healthy, happy and active for all these years. Even though she takes Metformin, Norvasc, Lisinopril/HcTX, Glimepiride, and is on an Exelon patch, she has always looked, walked and felt very well. My father and she go to all the great granddaughters' ballgames, etc. Recently, she was prescribed, during a routine checkup, two D tablets each Monday for only two weeks. Her throat from ear to ear and from chin to the dip in her throat broke out in a huge red(looked like a second degree burn). She put cold on it because it was so hot. Then huge spots the size of baseballs on each inside of her arm where her elbow bends. Her skin changed and she got very wrinkled and now she is peeling like she had a terrible sunburn. She has not been in the sun or changed detergeant or worn anything article of clothing she's not worn before. We had her get off the D and all the red has disappeared. Has anyone else had such an adverse reaction to this vitamin D doseage??
Now she had a catscan because her right side front and back is hurting. She has a colonoscopy sceduled for this Thurs. Could it be that this vitamin is burning her on the inside as well???? They found a thickening in her colon, a couple of spots on her liver and spot on her bones on her hip.
Please advise. Any help you could offer would be appreciated! Have you ever had these side effects reported to you before?

At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a question. I have been on Vitamin D supplements (50,000 mg once a week) for about 4 months. I now am having extreme muscle pain and haven't been able to lift my left arm above my head. Could this be caused by overdosing on Vitamin D. At times my left hand tingles and the pain radiates down from my shoulder to my elbow. Thanks for your help.

At 6:52 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear MA,

What a nightmare! I'm so sorry.

I hope it is obvious that I'm a huge believer in the power of vitamin D to improve health. I also believe that we are in the midst of a vitamin D deficiency epidemic. Finally, I even believe it is wise to gain personal experience with vitamin D side effects.

That said, I don't trust readers to experience side effects safely so I recommend sunshine instead of supplements. When I recommend supplements, I recommend 1000 to 2000 IU/day and a careful read of this blog.

High potency vitamin D supplements (any supplement greater than 1000 IU) are dangerous and should be banned. A tablet made is a tablet swallowed. I've said before, and I'll say it again, handing out 5000, 10,000 and 50,000 IU tablets of vitamin D inevitably sends unfornate individuals who either accidentally take too many pills or are unusually sensitive to vitamin D to the emergency room.

OK - so here's my observations based on your report. Itching skin, irritated eyes with reddening of the eyelids are all classic vitamin D side effects. Very intense itching, in my opinion, is difficult to distinguish from burning. So - I find reddened patches of burning skin to be consistent with prior reports of vitamin D overdose.

Bone pain is another very common vitamin D side effect. This is consistent with her right side hurting on the front and back. Vitamin D causes calcification of bones and soft tissues. I'm really not sure whether or not this could explain the catscan spots on the liver, colon, and hip bones.

Again, I'm so sorry for this incident. The good news is that your Mom's prognosis for any symptoms caused by vitamin D are excellent. She should experience a full recovery shortly (6 months at the most, in just a week or so with luck).

Now here's the hard part. Despite this horror, your Mom needs to appreciate the importance of vitamin D to her health and get plenty of sunshine. The elderly become embarassed by their bodies and stop taking off their clothes. This prevents them from using their healthiest skin to make vitamin D. No matter how old you are and no matter what you look like, clothing needs to come off regularly for exposure to noontime sunshine (no one else needs to see).

Good luck,


At 6:56 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

Yes, yes, and yes! Get off those dangerous supplements and out into the sunshine!

50,000 IU per week is 7,000 IU/day. That's well above the Food and Nutrition's Board warning dose of 2000 IU/day. No one should take 50,000 IU/week for such a long time. These high dose tablets were meant to be taken once a year or once per week for no more than 2 months. Stop taking these tablets before worse side effects emerge. Browse above if you want to know what might be in store if you continue at 50,000 IU/week.


At 9:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is your feeling about the UVB
lights in the winter months to get
Vitamin D. There are some that cut off automatically so you do not get to much exposure. I have already found i am very sensitive to Vitamin
D and supplementation.

At 9:26 AM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

I don't have strong feelings about UVB lights, and I don't have any personal experience with them.

I have managed to experience regular, mild vitamin D side effects from sun exposure. My feeling is that, as you mention, it would indeed be easier to overdose on vitamin D using a UVB lamp. That said, the side effects are harmless if recognized and reacted to with reduced vitamin D dosage.

Thanks for asking - because the conversation does provoke thoughts. Vitamin D from the sun simply isn't practical for many vitamin D deficient people. It would be a good idea for hospitals to consider setting rooms with UVB lights and prescribing time in these rooms instead of pills.

Your comments make me hopeful that you have and use a UVB lamp. Please share your experiences - especially if you think you can feel evidence of vitamin D production (benefits or side effects).

This is provoking even more thoughts. The power of a UVB lamp drops off with the square of the distance from the bulb. How well are these lamps engineered? What happens if you hold your skin just a couple of inches from the surfaces of the bulb for 30 minutes? How much vitamin D can the skin really make? How much does it vary from person to person. There is still much to learn.

Thanks so much for such a thoughtful question.


At 9:39 AM, Blogger Steve said...


There are several comments in this string documenting catastrophic effects from high dose vitamin D treatment (10,000 to 50,000 IU pils or shots or whatever). These catastrophic effects are, indeed, highly unusual. It has occurred to me that in addition to individual variability in sensitivity to vitamin D, there is also likely to be varibility in vitamin D dosage. For every million tablets manufactured at 50,000 IU, I wouldn't be surprised if one actually contained >250,000 IU. Just 1mg of vitamin D is 40,000 IU. The smallest tablets typically weigh 25 mg. Vitamin D must be mixed with binders to manufacture the tablets. If the ingredients are mismeasured or poorly mixed - if a drop of fluid somehow gets into the mixer - if any of many possibilities go wrong - an unlucky high dosage tablet gets produced and the person who swallows it suffers. Worse - every taking vitamin D suffers from fear of overdose.

This is entirely avoidable. The same sort of problem happens making 1000 IU tablets with no risk. One 5000 IU tablet in a bottle of 1000 IU tablets is highly unlikely to ever be noticed.

This column has been up for over a year without tablet quality control ever coming up. Of course, many prescription medications have this same problem....


At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe no one mentioned vitamin A, which protects from vit D potential toxicity (and vice versa) and enables body to build up the sufficient healthy level of it.
Vitamin K2 directs calcium to the bones and away from the soft tissues. So, D, A and K2 work synergetically.

At 1:20 AM, Anonymous Wendy said...

I accidentally took 300,000 iu of excellent quality liguid vitamin D3a week ago, for one day. (NO MORE SINCE). I have severe sleep disorder. The first night, I woke up, sat up in bed and didn't have plastic bags to put the stuff into (from bizarre images when asleep). I never experienced anything like this before and it happened the night following the overdose. Since then my nights seem taken over by odd scenario I hardly remember when I awake (only hours later). Any help? Wendy

At 6:22 PM, Blogger Dawn said...

Hey Steve
An update..
I thought I had got the toxicity out of me was feeling better. Anyway been off over six weeks and started to feel breathless again which the D originally helped with. So all I took over 3 days was an extra strong cod liver oil cap, one per day. WELL I went wierd again, (stopped oil immediaely) mental aggitation, emotional feebleness and vulnerablity constant crying over nothing much, pain in spine, itching eyes. It is inly just easing off psych wise after 4 days. So does this mean I shall never ever again be able to tolerate supplementing D even with codliver oil? That sounds scary living in the North of England with hardly any sunshine :(
take care

At 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Afternoon!!! is one of the most excellent informational websites of its kind. I take advantage of reading it every day. I will be back.

At 4:59 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Given my delayed response, I hope you took the time to read more carefully above on the comment string. I had a conversation with Bex during which I came up with a list of suggestions for how to accelerate recovery.

I'm very sorry that this happened to you. It's not your fault. I hope you make a full and speedy recovery.

I'm sure other readers would be reassured to learn how your case evolves. Please come on back in a few weeks and let us know what actions you took to speed your recovery and how you're feeling. I'll be hoping that you make a full recovery.



At 5:12 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Vitamins are difficult to use. It is too soon for you to jump to conclusions. Your body is undergoing many adjustments to the high vitamin D dosage that you implemented less than one year ago. Vitamin side effect thresholds vary with age, state of health, and probably many other things. Just because you are reacting badly to several thousand IU of vitamin D today doesn't mean you'll react so badly 10 years from now.

In your first post you indicated a variety of chronic health problems. I recommend that you use thiamine, vitamin C, and niacin supplements in addition to managing vitamin D.

Vitamin D typically has a half life in the body of 30 days. At your latitude, the sun shines brightly enough in all but November, December, and January. If you were willing to get into the sun with minimal clothing between 11 am and 1 pm most bright sunny days you would make plenty of vitamin D in your skin to keep you healthy year round.

Since you are so sensitive to the pills, your other options are to apply supplements topically by buying vitamin D gelcaps and rubbing the oil into your skin, or to purchase one of the vitamin D lamps recommended by the vitamin D council.

Please keep in touch and let us know how you decide to proceed.


At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found this commentary fascinating. I live in a northern climate and in the fall began taking 2,000 IU of vitamin D. I had my vitamin D levels checked last week and they were still very low. I am now taking 10,000 IU's a day with a 1,000 mg dose of Calcium Citrate to counteract the leaching of Calcium from the system due to high doses of Vitamin D. This is all being done under the watchful eye of my Naturopathic Doctor and I will be tested again in 4 months to see what the levels are

At 11:06 AM, Blogger Health Pain said...

The medicines that are used for bone pain are narcotics findrxonline as opioids such as Vicodin, Lortab, OxyContin , hydrocodone and the doctors that are usually used to combat pain they cause diseases such as homeopathy, fibromyalgia and even cancer In general, these medicines are used mostly is the United States and Europe are controlled because their use can lead to addiction.

At 5:27 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

I'm glad you found the column. It is indeed a remarkable testament to the power of the internet. I haven't found anything else like it in print on or off the internet.

Well. If you read the column, you are fully warned that you stand a high probability of developing side effects before having your blood retested in four months. 10,000 IU/day is a large dose.

I don't understand the fear that too much vitamin D will leach calcium from the bones. My understanding was that too much vitamin D did just the opposite and caused too much calcium to deposit into bones and soft tissures. When recovering from vitamin D overdose, minimizing calcium intake is typically recommended.

Since your taking so much vitamin D, please come on back and share your experiences from time to time.

Thanks again for your comment,


At 10:26 AM, Anonymous Wendy said...

Dear Steve,

Thank you from the bottom of my weary heart for helping me not feel so alone.

The first sympton I had, the morning after accidentally taking 300,000 iu of vit D3 (dropperfuls instead of drops) was an hallucination and continued severely disturbed sleep for several nights. It has been 3 weeks. Some other symptons are becoming less, during the day.

These past two nights of NO sleep
clearly feel caused by D3.

There is something intense about sleep. When I do sleep and wake up, the transition feels surreal. I feel alien to my body and it takes time to get up and adjust to being awake, a similar feeling to hallucinating. ANYONE RELATE?

I read your response to Anonymous-"Thanks especially for comment that vitamin D may be causing insomnia - I've also experienced insomnia caused by Vit D. I'm going to add it to the side effects . ." GOOD!

I read your suggestions to Bex for how to accelerate recovery. Thanks!

Do you happen to know exactly what in an overdose of vit D3 causes insomnia? Is it an over load of energy created from too much D3?

It would help me immensely to hear from other brave souls who have suffered insomnia as a result of Vit D3 overdose.

Thank you, Wendy

At 2:03 PM, Anonymous Wendy said...

Dear Steve,

The first symptom I had,the morning after accidentally taking 300,000 iu of vit D3 (dropper fulls instead of droppers!)was an hallucination and continued severely disturbed sleep, for several nights.
It has been three weeks. These past two nights of NO sleep clearly feel caused by vit D3.

There is something intense about sleep. When I do sleep, and wake up, the transition feels surreal. I feel like an alien in my body and it takes time to get up and adjust to being awake, a similar feeling to hallucinating. ANYONE

I read your response to Anonymous - "Thanks, especially for your comment that vit D may be causing insomnia. - I've also experienced insomnia caused by vit D, I'm going to add it to the side effects . . . GOOD!

I read your suggestions to Bex for how to accelerate recovery. I am beginning to follow them. During the day I feel less symptoms but now afraid I will not sleep and very tired!

How does having taken SUCH a huge
300,000 (one time) dose affect my symptoms? Can you explain why D3 causes insomnia.

It would help immensely to hear from other brave souls who have had insomnia as a symptom of vit D3 overdose.

I couldn't do without you guys! Thank you, Steve! Warmly, Wendy

At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My reactions to an overdose of Vitamin D , which was as low as 2000 IU a day, were of extreme anxiety and stress. Those symptoms caused an inability to sleep or, when I was able to sleep, to feel extremely fatigued the following morning and throughout the day. This seems to correspond to your sleep issues somewhat. But everyone's reaction to Vitamin D toxicity appears to be different based on the postings here.

Give yourself some time to recover. It will be at least a month, perhaps longer, before you feel like your old self, but it will come.

Be well.


At 4:09 PM, Anonymous SallyR said...

First, THANK YOU for this blog! I was diagnosed with low D level (15.3, nurse said 32 is normal!!)I started taking 50,000 mg/week on Dec. 15 '09. Took the 5th pill this morning, Jan. 12/'10. I've had moderately bad nasal and chest congestion, fatigue, dizziness, some depression, and weakness off and on (mostly ON) since starting the RX. Thought I had some kind of bug, but since I am a breast cancer survivor (surgery/chemo at age 48, almost 58 now - thank you God I appreciate every day I was granted!) started getting concerned about a cancer issue. Finally thought well maybe it has something to do with the Vitamin D supplement. Found your blog, and what a relief it was to find a reasonable alternative to the cancer recurrence worries!!!

My question(s) are:

Why did my Dr's nurse say 32 was 'normal'? Is there more than one blood test with different scales?

Also, only 1 or maybe two posts on this blog discussed the nasal/lung congestion thing. Is this a real side effect or is it just January in Ohio no sun, cold, furnace on all the time, and dry air?


At 4:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am thankful to have come across your blog regarding vitamin D supplementation. After a recent skin exam, my dermatologist told me to avoid the sun and make sure I take 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily. Coupled with my yearly physical where I tested 31 for D-hydroxy D (on the low end of the 25-80 range) I thought I should take this seriously. So, of course I stopped by the drug store right after my appointment and began supplementing that night. Two days later I started experiencing a dull pain in the lower right quadrant of my abdomen with associated nausea, mouth dryness, metallic taste, and thirst. I wake up at 3am every night with pain in my abdomen. I waited 5 days, all the while continuing supplementation, before I went to the doctor for what I believed was an appendicitis. They did a urine culture, blood work, and CT scan of my abdomen checking the gallbladder, appendix, uterus, and ovaries. All came back negative. The doctor is shaking her head at what could be causing the symptoms. Next step...gastroenterologist. So, I'd started an investigation of my own when I came across your blog. 1000 IU of vitamin D is the only thing that has changed since the pain started. Is it possible that such a low dose could be causing these symptoms? Think I'll hold off on the GI appointment, stop supplementation, and see what happens. THANK YOU!!

At 6:01 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

You are doing the right thing stopping the 1000 IU supplements and hoping for the best. There are two ordinary, normal reasons for your misfortune. The first is that you are unusually sensitive to vitamin D. Some people simply are and they should be over represented reading and commenting at this blog.

The second possibility is that you got a bad bottle of vitamin D pills. VItamin D tablets are >99% binder. 1000 IU is just a couple of micrograms of vitamin D in a tablet that typically weighs 50 mg (well less than one part in one thousand vitamin D). Pure vitamin D is typically carefully diluted down. Every once in a while a mistake will be made in the manufacturing chain and a bottle of 1000 IU tablets will really be a bottle of 10,000 IU tablets.

This blog and this logic has made me way of prescription medication. When I take a pill, how do I really know what I'm doing?

Nothing is for free. Vitamins and drugs are powerful, empowering tools. We are right to depend upon them but we shouldn't be unrealistic. When drugs or vitamins are highly toxic in overdose, the buyer must beware.

So - there's nothing to worry about with vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine (no known lethal doses - full and rapid recovery from overdose - vitamin C and niacin tablets are mostly vitamin and just minimal binder). One more reason to get vitamin D from the sun.


At 6:50 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

Side effects can be hard to describe. Irritation of the lungs is my number one comment. I didn't experience the irritability as congestion, but how different, really, is irritated and congested when it comes to lungs? A runny nose is right there on the Mayo clinic list. It's hard to have a runny nose without some level of congestion. So - lungs and noses are there.

That said, these haven't been common complaints of the commentators. I was fascinated at how many commentators complained of the cardiac (heart) symptoms.

I've commented elsewhere that I don't have much faith in vitamin D blood tests. I don't think there is enough data to know what normal is, and I worry about the reproducibility of the scale. The 32 is short for 32 parts per billion or some such unit defined by the group that developed the test. I think there is only one standard test method in use.

Hope that helps,


At 6:56 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks for your comment. I went to the blog to add insomnia as I promised and found that it was already there (number 7 on my list of symptoms not found on the Mayo Clinic list). So - yes - good. I'm not the only one who gets insomnia from vitamin D.

I'm glad you read my replies to Bex. Let us know what, if anything, you find useful during your recovery.

I'm so sorry about what happened to you. This is not your fault. These high potency drops are very dangerous. Mistaking drops for droppers is a perfectly natural thing to do and should never be able to result in months of discomfort. i'll say it again, these products should be taken off the market. The only way to avoid these problems is to stop manufacturing the products!

Keep us posted on your recovery. We'll keep you in our thoughts.


At 6:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The author of has written an excellent article. You have made your point and there is not much to argue about. It is like the following universal truth that you can not argue with: Bricks are horrible to carry. Thanks for the info.

At 7:00 AM, Anonymous Wendy said...

Dear Steve,

I have alot to tell about my experience and slow recovery but first I have a question.

I took the overdose of 300,000 iu of votamin D3 about 6 weeks ago. understanding the half life, I imagine I still have a bit in me. Can it still be affecting insomnia?

More later, Wendy

At 6:29 PM, Blogger Steve said...


I trust you understand how unusual your experience is. So - there's not many other people you could compare your experience with.

I rechecked the web and indeed found multiple references stating that the half life of vitamin D is about 4 weeks. When taken in a single, large shot like your case, it is usual to fully absorb the dose. So, let's guess that you excreted or metabolized 50% of the original dose in the first 24 hours leaving 150,000 IU. Let's also guess that the first couple of half lives are shorter (I won't justify this guess here - trust me that it is reasonable). So - that would get you down to about 40,000 IU after 6 weeks. So yes - plenty is left to cause side effects. In three more months you should have only ballpark 5000 IU left in your body from the overdose. I'd be hard pressed to blame the presence of elevated levels of vitamin D for any side effects remaining. So - theory says you will make a full recovery in a couple of months. If you have not, it would suggest that the vitamin D caused some slow healing wounds (perfectly plausible), or, heaven forbid, irreversible damage.

You are becoming something of an expert about vitamin D as a result of this experience. If you optimize your use of vitamin D, I promise you that over the course of your lifetime the benefits will far outweigh the harm no matter how bad this incident turns out to be.


At 6:31 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for the tip about carrying the bricks.

To all readers, I really appreciate comments like this. It helps me to know that people are reading the blog and finding it helpful.


At 3:28 AM, Anonymous Wendy said...


Thanks for your latest response.
I certainly do understand how unusual my experience was.

In your calculations, You seem to think that with 40,000 iu still in my body there is "plenty left to cause side effects." And then you say you "would be hard pressed to blame the presence of elevated levels of vitamin D for any side effects remaining." I do not understand. It feels like a contradiction. Wendy

At 4:46 AM, Anonymous Wendy said...

I am adding to my email I just sent. I have had insomnia in the past. Somehow, this feels different. I am taking ambien. The data on the internet says "Ambien affects chemicals in your brain that may become unbalanced and CAUSE INSOMNIA.Ihave been really wanting to know, since this unusually high one time dose happened to me, HOW DOES D3 AFFECT THE CHEMICALS IN THE BRAIN? I feel like, with such a drug experience the chemicals DID become unbalanced. Do you know? Wendy

At 8:32 PM, Anonymous Wendy said...

Dear Steve,

I reread your letter again and again and it is very clear that when I have 5,000 iu left in my body in 3 months, there will be no side effects. I am sorry I came on so strong, with the word, contradiction. My behavior must be a side effect???????? Wendy

At 11:05 PM, Anonymous Susie said...

From reading this blog I now know that I am not crazy. After being tested for vitamin D by my doctor, I was told my level was 14 and considered low. He put me on 50,000 IU 1x per week. Before taking the supplement, I was healthy (aside from low D level) and only saw the Dr. for my annual check up.

I started taking the D supplement the day before Thanksgiving. I took 2 doses without noticing any side effects. After the 3 dose, I was off for Christmas vacation skiing. I developed numbness in my foot which I attributed to my new ski boots doing some nerve damage (until reading this blog) that still persists, and numbness in my face and tongue (which have gone away). I also experience a strange sensation at the base of my throat (just above the collar bone) like it was swollen, constipation, infrequent urination and bloating/hardening of the lower abdomen. Over the last several weeks I can't be outside in sunlight without sunglasses, due to sensitivity. I felt like I was going crazy with all these strange things happening to me and felt embarrassed to call my Dr with these claims for fear he'd think I was nuts too. Now I'm zeroing in on the D and going to call him straight away tomorrow.

Because I had no health issues prior to taking the Vitamin D, I have to start with that. I couldn't all of a sudden experience all of these issues around the same time with it not being related to the D.

At 8:42 PM, Blogger Steve said...


No worries. I wasn't offended. I'm sorry for being unclear.

Sleep disorders are serious. Sleeping pills are not a full cure. I don't believe it is possible to get high quality sleep on sleeping pills. Go to Google and type "C:the blog and sleep" into the search box. Give the supplements I recommend a try and see if you can get off sleeping pills.


At 8:51 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your experience.

The numbness is a rare side effect not on the list. I totally believe that it is real.

The swollen feeling at the base of your neck could be the very commonly reported heart and chest pains. The feeling is in the right area and everyone feels it a different way. Everything else you describe is on the list. There is no question in my mind that you are suffering classic vitamin D overdose symptoms.

Having read this column, you know what to do.

Please don't give up on vitamin D. You are meant to get your vitamin D from the sun. I quit vitamin D pills for the same reason you will - I'm not very tolerant to the pills. I have no problems with sunshine.

I'll say it again - these high dose supplements are dangerous and should be banned. I'm so sorry that you have been made to suffer without cause.


At 12:33 PM, Blogger PeterGuidry said...

I started 1000iu supplementation last year after all the hype.

I seem to experience a marked sensitivity/dryness of tissues. My eyes/sinuses/throat burn/feel dry and sensitive. I cough more easily (I am someone who seldom coughs that much even when I have a cold).

This morning I took 4000iu with breakfast as I was trying ascertain causation. All symptoms are markedly worse. This is why I did a search for others with atypical response.

I will skip for the next few days and see if they subside, I might have to a diary to see if there is something to this.

Anyone else have dry/sensitive eyes/nose/throat with supplementation?

At 1:48 PM, Anonymous CallMeSuzy said...

I haven't time to read all comments but wanted to throw in my two cents on this - I'm glad you confirmed that different people have really varying sensitivity, because when I used to take standard low-dose (100% RDA max) multi-vitamins, really top-quality ones, I had some of these symptoms, the worst one being like a full feeling at the base of my skull, hard to describe but pretty nasty.

But supplementing with individual vitamins other than VitD causes no problems.

Second, I have really bad allergic rhinitis and unfortunately in my work Im sometimes exposed to allergens like mold & dust, and when that kicks in badly I CRAVE condensed milk, butter - and more condensed milk!

It's not a normal part of my diet, so I can only assume there's some kind of link, and when I just go with it and feed that urge I never get side effects, but it seems to cut the allergy period and make me feel better (totally subjective I know).

It's totally weird and counter to the conventional wisdom that dairy feeds allergies though, and it's always the VitD-supplemented stuff that I crave for, not just regular milk in large amounts.

As side notes, I'm late 30's now and first noticed the symptoms with multi-vits in my late teens, I was on a diet to lose like 20lbs and started taking them as kind of backup. And I have real pale skin, which burns eaily in the sun, so I never sunbathe.

Anyway this is real interesting, thanks and I've found it extremely empowering to read that I'm not the only one for whom standard RDA's aren't the final and definitive answer.

At 7:38 AM, Blogger Steve said...


Sensitive eyes and a runny nose are typical vitamin D overdose symptoms. The throat symptom is more unusual. However, if you look just above another commenter noted having a funny feeling at the base of the neck which could also be from irritated nerves in the throat.

Thanks so much for sharing,


At 7:54 AM, Blogger Steve said...


I have not sufficiently emphasized how differently people react to vitamin D supplements. It is really a huge range, and you are correct to draw attention to your unusually pale skin. There are evolutionary factors at work. Many mammals dependent upon vitamin D have evolved to enable living mostly out of the sun. Rats, being lab animals, are particularly well understood. Rats require at least <100 times the amount of vitamin D (after adjusting for body mass) than average people do. This supports the idea that people also evolved in response to exposure to the sun.

There is so much left to learn. Sigh! Anyway, I would recommend experiementing with sun exposure before experimenting with vitamin D tablets. For you, with your pale, sensitive skin, it is much easier than for the rest of us. Get into a bathing suit, get out into the noontime sunshine in the summer, and lie under the sun for just one minute on each side. Then you're done. I aim for ten minutes on each side and it's not so easy to keep track because I get bored and start reading or some other such thing. Anyone can focus on what they are doing for just 2 minutes.

Getting into the sun is a healthy habit for humans even with the most sensitive skin. You are not a rat! Even if you don't need the extra vitamin D today, you may when you are older. It's much harder to start new habits in old age than it is to start them now.

If you don't agree, let's chat some more and I'll back up my assertions with deeper analysis.


At 2:04 PM, Blogger PeterGuidry said...

Today after 4000 UI yesterday. I feel normal again. I think my issue may primarily be the processing of Vitamin D3. Not an excess stored in my system. Though the effect seemed to last nearly all waking hours yesterday.

I am going to abstain for the next couple of days and dose again to see if I have the same effects.

For me the eyes/sinus/throat affects all seem to be the same thing. Irritated soft tissues. My sinuses were not running, all of my eyes/sinus/throat had a dry irritated feeling.

Some folks may getting runny nose from the irritation, but I didn't.

I will report again in a few days...

At 2:38 PM, Anonymous Liz said...

Hi Steve,

I posted ages ago in this thread, talking about my struggle with scabies, and my lump in the throat. I had been taking 6000 per day, and then went up to 10,000 for a while. So I took LOADS of D for maybe 7 months or more. I have since read a couple more posts in this thread suggesting a lump in the throat with overdose of D. I am now very very worried.

My itch went away in September 09. I don't remember if it coincided with my lower dose of D, but it recurred in Dec. I have been under the ENT with my throat problem, and he saw that my vocal chords are bowed. He put it down to reflux, and put me on gaviscon advance, 40ml per day, and speech therapy once a fortnight.

What is worrying me is that my lumpy feelings are worsening, and I don't know, but I think it might be since taking the Gaviscon. Gav is high in calcium, which made me worry that the lump is down to calcium. I am also starting to get a weird "blocked" sensation in my upper chest.

I stopped the D completely in November, so that I could concentrate on my throat recovery. How long would the effect last for? I am quite scared now, because if I continue taking the Gav in such large doses, it will make the problem worse...but if I stop, my reflux will get worse.

I intend to visit my GP first thing tomorrow. I will keep you informed. I think this is terribly important.

At 9:16 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Please don't be scared. You're doing the right thing to see your physician tomorrow. Odds are you'll be just fine. You've been off vitamin D supplements for almost three months so your levels are down significantly.

For whatever it is worth, "blocked" is an excellent description of the feeling I get in my chest from too much vitamin D. I had a full cardiac workout and everything was normal.

What I'm trying to say is that vitamin D side effects frequently feel like an emergency when in fact they are not.

Scabies, bowed vocal chords, acid reflux... Ugh. I'm so sorry. With luck, however, you've come to the right place. Keep seeing your doctor. You can take all his/her advice and all of mine too. Vitamins and conventional medicine do not compete. If both approaches work, doing both together can achieve remarkable results. I recommend that you get extra vitamin C, thiamine (vitamin B1), niacin (vitamin B3) and vitamin D. Please read my other posts for specifics.

Good luck and be sure to come back and update us on your progress.


At 11:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was prescribed vit D 50,000 units weekly 11/08 right after I had my tonsils out, my D level was <6. I did not recognize some of my side effects for several months because I thought I was recovering from the surgery, and there was no information given to me about side effects and warnings. It started with palpitations, especially after I ate and some mood changes. By may of 09, I was having tachycardia, palpitations, severe abdominal pain, frequency, constipation, and an overwhelming feeling that something was horribly wrong, the feeling of doom, I thought I was going to die. 9 trips to the ER by 911 and 5 more trips by car over a 2 month period for sudden onsets of a heart rate of 160+, severe cramping, nausea, vomiting, and a feeling of complete panic, I thought I was losing my mind. 4 CT scans, gastric studies, stress test and ultrasound of my heart, all negative and I wasn't getting any better. They did find mild gastritis, I'm sure from all of the nausea and vomiting, I lost 28 pounds in 4 weeks because I couldn't eat, it only made the symptoms worse. I had told everyone the only thing I was taking was vitamin D, no one ever told me that those were side effects of a vit D sensitivity, my mother was the one who looked it up and found your blog. I stopped the vitamin D june of 09 some sypmtoms improved within weeks and others took months to go away, I still have some issues with anxiety because the whole experience was traumatic, and it was hard for me to believe that it was from a vitamin. My daughter made the comment during all of it that they would figure out what was wrong with me during my autopsy, I looked like I was dying. I was so weak I couldn't even walk half the time. I'm very upset that the medical profession so blindly prescribes medication that they can't even recognize when someone is having side effects, it never occured to any of them that it could be the vitamin D. If it wasn't for your post I'm not sure what would have happend to me. I am
convinced that it was all from the vitamin D.

At 10:27 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks so much for stopping by to tell your story. I honestly never thought that I would hear such a story. 14 trips to the ER! Tests and tests and tests! In all that time it ended up being your mother who took the time to do a simple internet search. How is this possible? These side effects are well known. It's in the Merck Manual. It's in a 1987 book I rely on called "The Right Dose" by Patricia Hausmann. She give vitamin D supplements a "dubiousness" award and warns against taking more than 1000 IU/day. Is this willfull ignorance?

Well well well. It's good to know that my occasional ranting is perhaps warranted. My blog is more forceful than other warnings like the Mayo clinic site that I quote heavily from.

Anyway, you made my day. I'm here to help - and in your case I really helped. What would have happened to you is that you would have kept on suffering for decades until and unless you stopped the vitamin D.

It is such an irony. I started blogging because I want people to take more vitamins and not be afraid of side effects. Now it turns out that my most important blog warns people about the dangers of vitamin D overdose and helps people who are taking too much - and on their doctor's advice.

So - doctors are advising more vitamin D supplements than me - the get as much as possible from sunshine fanatic. These same doctors accuse me of advising too much vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine. Well - I'm right about the vitamin D and I'm right about the vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine too.

I'll be damned! Thanks thanks thanks for caring enough to write.


At 7:02 AM, Blogger Steve said...


I was trolling around the internet and found this comment left on another website which I copy for your benefit. I'll say it again - high dose vitamin D supplements should be banned. They violate the "do no harm" mandate of medicine. Here's the comment:

I am suffering from D3 toxicity. I suddenly became gripped with depression, joint pain, anorexia (lost 14 pounds), brain fog extraordinaire, extreme fatigue. For 155 days, I’d taken 60,000 IU/day. The instruction on the label was wrong; it should have said ‘1 drop twice/day’; it actually said ‘1 dropper twice/day’. D levels were within toxic levels, although calcium, while elevated was not outside norman range; kidneys tested okay as did thyroid. Main concern now is later T1 impact. I have done my homework. I know my body. Joint pain went away within 48 hours (previously non-existent-Dr. Barry Sears Omega 3); appetite increased right away also after ceasing all D. It pays to pay attention!

At 4:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will add to the myriad of comments. Here is what happened to me.
I discovered my vit d was low at 11. My friend also decided to supplement with D. He took cod liver oil (which has the fatty acids and vitamin A) @ 3 TBsp per day (~9,000IU), and integrated some days of sunshine. so far he has not developed any symptoms, and feels great.
I have a different story. I started with 50,000 iu once a week along with 1 T of cod liver oil. After 7 weeks, i re tested and found i was at 32. I was not aware of any symptoms at that point. In fact, I was quite impressed at how much better I felt. nails growing fast and strong, hair stopped falling out, feeling like a nice person with more calmness. I stopped the 50,000, and continued on with CLO only (pure food form) @ ~1,000 IU per day. I retested and found i lowered to 22. That is when i made the decision to supplement with liquid drops of 10,000IU per day. I dropped it right in to the CLO. Then I noticed multiple changes. numbness, pain and tingling in my feet. my thumb and ring finger was experiencing strange pain. Then I noticed a rash of some kind (perhaps eczema) on my forehead and around the nose. my lips were quite chapped. Then my nails returned to weakness. my hair started falling out again. my heart was feeling weird. Chest pain and irregular heart beats were becoming more prominent. Hypotension started to appear. more mental confusion was present. Then I noticed a decreased appetite, and stools more loose than usual. I also have noticed a fast progressing receding lower gum. I have never had gum problems before. I had been searching to look for the cause. I thought it might have been from vit a toxicity, or another nutritional deficiency. Then your blog appeared. I stopped all vit d and will follow the "recovery" plan. I will check in and report how it is going. Should I take more magnesium, vit K and vit A to accelerate the recovery further?

At 8:00 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

Thanks for sharing your story. It allows me to say - once again - that concentrated vitamin D liquids (1000 or more IU per drop) should be banned. This would not prevent people who need 10,000 IU/day from getting it. It is simple enough to take five 2000 IU tablets. I believe that our society needs to at least make an effort to do no harm.

Bad feelings in the chest associated with the heart are clearly the most common vitamin D side effect. This symptom is reported by almost everyone in the comment string. The hair falling out, receding gums, weak nails, chapped lips, and rash on the forehead are all highly unusual. Please check back in as you promised and let us know if all these symptoms receded along with the others.

Thanks again,


At 10:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been suplementing with vitamin D for 4/5 months and have been having trouble sleeping, frequency night time urination, urination alot!, massive weight loss anxiety ect and it was only when i saw your blog that i realised any of this could be related to the vitamin d3 i was taking. Ive been taking 2000 IU of D3 and vitamin K2 and im really worried, I have just thrown them away, the other week i stopped by chance for 2 weeks and felt better but didnt put 2 and 2 together, should i panic about such things as renal failure and kidney damage, or should a few months be reversible?

At 10:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank-you so much for this discussion. I would like to share what has been going on with our 10 year old son. We gave him 4 doses of clo, 1/2 tsp each, each given about 1 week apart. At some point he began complaining of a dry mouth ("no spit" in his words) but I didn't connect it to the CLO because it seemed to be such a small dose of vitamin d, until after the 4th dose. In the hours after the 4th dose he became naseus and had a couple brief dizzy spells, and over the next 3-4days developed an extremely dry mouth, started complaining of the chest pains, back pain, brief pain in his fingers, muscles, ankles, and toes as well as some tingling in his fingers but also around his mouth and ringing in his ears. He frequently also complained of the feeling that he had something in his eyes, nasal passage burning and some difficulty swallowing. Needless to say I immediately made an appointment for him with the doctor and in the meantime searched the web which landed me at your wonderful site. It has been 15 days since the last dose and the dry mouth and difficulty swallowing have largely gone away. He still has frequent eye irritation, bone pain, and chest pains as well as fairly brief feelings of naseau. He also now has periods of muscle weakening and tingling, general breathlessness and itching. I have received the results of blood work and everything, including calcium, came back normal. I am still waiting the results of the vitamin d level test which I expect today. He has kept out of the sun fairly well till a few days ago when his class started to go outside for recess again. We do not consume fortified milk at home (we drink raw) and I have not given him any d-fortified cereals in the past 2 weeks. I showed the doctor the label of the clo that we gave my son and he agreed that the dose seemed too small to cause anything but agreed that given the symptoms testing was in order. Are there any other tests that you know of that I should request from the doctor? By the way, we also gave my daughter the clo supplements at the same time as my son and she had no reaction whatsoever. My son is tall and very thin (my daughter is more stocky) and I'm wondering if the thinness could be a factor, as I believe one other comment also mentioned this possibility. Sorry this post is so long. Once again, thank-you for raising this discussion and to all the commenters for sharing their stories.

A Very Worried Mom

At 8:01 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

There is no need to panic. Go see your doctor to make sure your situation isn't a crisis, and that you're basically OK. The vast majority of vitamin D overdose issues resolve themselves in weeks or months. You have not been taking a particularly high dose, making the high odds of a full recovery even higher.


At 9:08 PM, Anonymous pat said...


I'm writing to you again to get your opinion. I'm the one who had the 14 trips to the ER, I read the blog over and over again because it's just so much information to take in at one time, and I see more and more of the symptoms I have that I didn't even mention, like the chest/bone pain. I thought I had done something to my back and sternum because the bone pain was awful. I had written that I was still having some issues with anxiety, because that's what the MD's told me, especially in the early evening when I feel like it's hard to breath even though I know I'm breathing fine. It's that "blocked" feeling that someone else had mentioned. I don't think it's anxiety I think it's still another side effect that has not gone away yet, better but not gone. How long has it taken you and other people for those symptoms to resolve completely?
Thanks again for your help, you are my hero!


At 2:20 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Worried Mom,

The dose of vitamin D in a teaspoon of typical cod liver oil is roughly 250 IU. There is an equivalent amount of vitamin D in a children's multivitamin. Milk is dosed with 100 IU per cup.

Somewhere I read that some manufacturers of cod liver oil add vitamin D to the oil. A reasonable explanation for what's happened to your son is that the bottle of cod liver oil that you have been using was badly manufactured and contains a much higher level of vitamin D than is on the label. At a minimum, you should discard this bottle and buy another bottle of a different brand. If you're determined to make sense of what's happened to your son, I'd recommend having the actual bottle of cod liver oil that you gave your son analyzed.

Let's say, for example, that the bottle contains 10,000 IU per half teaspoon. This sort of dose is readily tolerated - consistent with the absence of a reaction from your daughter - but is plenty high enough to explain the symptoms seen in your son.

If you read the string above, I've commented a number of times that concentrated vitamin D is dangerous and needs to be handled carefully. Once concentrated vitamin D has been produced, it's very very very difficult to ensure that none of it is accidentally ingested at a dangerous dose.

Anyway - you're right to be worried but don't be too worried. Your son will make a full recovery. When he has recovered, he will still need vitamin D. Sunshine is never mis-formulated, and is not known to cause vitamin D side effects. It is basically 100% safe. Don't keep you child out of the son.


At 4:43 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Worried Mom,

I'm not knowledgeable about testing, and I'm not there looking at your son. So long as the problem has been properly diagnosed - a vitamin D overdose - the prognosis for your son is excellent. The case, however, is odd which makes me uneasy. The dose you have reported giving your son is too small to account for the severity of his symptoms. Your son might indeed be hypersensitive to ingested vitamin D. If so it is very very rare but should not be discounted. I don't know how one would test for that, nor what one would do about it.

I wrote again because I wanted to comment about your daughter. You are very right to be worried that your kids aren't getting enough vitamin D. If my hypothesis that your cod liver oil contains much higher doses of vitamin D than on the label is correct, then it is meaningful that your daughter took the dose without any side effects. Tolerance for high doses commonly indicates deficiency.

Worry is a part of raising children. The hard truth is that parents do need to worry every day about the doses of vitamins their children are getting. I have limited my worrying to the four vitamins that prevent deficiency diseases: vitamins C, B1, B3, and D. For vitamin D I worry every day that my kids aren't getting enough sunshine. Type "C:the blog and pale faces" into Google and browse all the columns I've written about vitamins and children.

Thanks for sharing your story,


At 4:54 PM, Blogger Steve said...


When I don't take enough vitamin D, I get respiratory infections. When I have tried to quit vitamin D long enough to completely eliminate all signs of side effects, I keep getting sick. I have chosen to tolerate minor, easily tolerated discomforts in order to reduce the number and duration of respiratory infections that I used to be frequently inflicted with. I believe that the sun gets me higher doses of vitamin D with fewer side effects, and I am now getting my vitamin D exclusively by getting out into the sun near naked at noon.

Somewhere up the string I went through the logic of how much time it takes to get all the vitamin D out - it's 6-9 months or something like that. With any luck, you'll be feeling like your old self well before that. Of course, this far good luck has not been your karma!

I have thought about your comment every day since you left it, and I've circulated it to friends and family.

I have certainly not done anything heroic. These are such strange times that I could be so helpful to you when I have so little in the way of resources to devote to vitamin safety and effectiveness. That I can reach out on the web - and that Google can shoot my column up in the rankings using computer meritocracy wizardry - and that main stream medicine can be so amazingly incompetent about essential nutrients. How could all these things be true? Truth really is stranger than fiction.

Well - advice like mine coupled with stories like yours will help make this problem go away quickly. Doctors are going to read this column and be more competent as a result.


At 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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At 7:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Steve,
This is an old post but hopefully it's still active. I would like to know whether you ever had any blood tests showing your Rheumatoid Factor (RHF) before, during and after your Vit D experience, and if so, whether you observed any change in RHF levels as a result of the Vit D. I would appreciate your comment.

At 2:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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don't give up and also keep penning as a result it simply just truly worth to follow it.
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At 6:22 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

I have not had my RHF levels tested.

I'm becoming increasingly disenchanted with sophisticated medical tests. When you're not feeling well, nutrition and medications are almost certain to help. Obviously I feel getting the nutrition right is far more important for real, long term healing. Drugs are highly useful especially if they can be used as a short term fix for long term healing. The problem with the fancy tests is they get in the way of getting on with finding treatments. People need to get going as quickly as possible trying different combination of different doses of sunshine, vitamins, natural medications, and prescription medications. Expensive tests are slow and impractical. Simple tests that you can do yourself make alot more sense to me.


At 8:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had "Nocturnal Leg Cramps" that were so painful they woke me up. They would start any time in the afternoon and continue until the wee hours of the morning. They would begin to occur nightly during my period and continue to occur almost to my next period. So, I went to a doctor who checked my D level and and found it low. She recommended 1000 IU of vitamin D and that was it.

The pain improved but did not go away. For the next few months I experimented with vitamin D dosages and scoured the internet for any relevant information. I found that simply taking vitamin D (regardless of dosage, usually > 2000IU) made my legs "buzzy" and my muscles twitchy and my teeth very sensitive. However when I combined vitamin D with calcium and sufficient dietary magnesium, all these symptoms went away.

I am currently taking about 9000-12000IU of vitamin D (less and the pain recurs) in 3-4 doses a day coupled with 3-4 doses of calcium supplements and lots of dark green vegetables for the magnesium.

Strangely enough, I found that taking the calcium supplement without the D resulted in "cloudy urine" which suggested to me that it was not being absorbed. Also, taking vitamin D in one dose was not helpful because the calcium did not seem to be absorbed later in the day.

I am now pain free and apparently vitamin D side effect free. I think everyone will have varying needs for vitamin D and Calcium and Magnesium and should find at which dosage/amount they feel the best. I also think that vitamin D should not be taken alone. I hope this helps!

At 1:09 AM, Anonymous Peter A said...

Hi again Steve,
Thanks for the reply.
The RHF test isn't fancy or expensive, it's a standard line item in a normal blood test, and shows an antibody concentration in your bloodstream. The antibodies it measures are the ones that go round cleaning up other antibodies after they've done their work against infections, bacteria, and the like.
The RHF level is supposed to be less than 14, and people with high levels (> 50) typically experience joint pain and/or other symptoms that can be similar to Vit D issues. In fact my rheumatologist has pointed out that my high RHF condition may be Vit D related.
Since my RHF level is >100, and since I have many of the symptoms listed on this page (even though I take no Vit D supplements), I was curious to see if there may be any correlation between high RHF and Vit D supplements, from your experience.
Perhaps anyone else who has had RHF mesaured in their blood tests may have a comment.
Thanks again

At 11:28 PM, Blogger yves228 said...

Hi Steve,
I am 14 weeks pregnant and into my 11th week, my OB-GYN prescribed Vit D to me because my level was very low (I live in Oregon)in addition to my prenatal Vitamins. Yesterday, she called to tell me that my Vit D is very high now and wondered how I took it. To my shock, I totally overlooked the prescription label and took the pill EVERYDAY INSTEAD OF TWICE A WEEK ONLY. Can you imagine the humiliation I felt. My OB-GYN assured me that I will be okay. She checked my Calcium level and it was normal. I did not experience any side effects from overdosing on the Vit D that I can remember. My prescription was 50,000 u/ 1 cap 2x a week. It's suppose to be an 8 week supply that I took in 2 weeks.
I still am very worried that I have put my pregnancy in jeopardy and worried about my baby. My doctor is reassuring but I still need more info. She just told me to avoid Calcium tabs right now. Please give me more info on this- overdosing on Vit D in relation to pregnancy.

At 9:31 PM, Blogger Steve said...


I basically agree with the nurse that your baby will be fine. In fact, I'm much less worried about your baby than I would have been if you hadn't done anything about your vitamin D deficiency. So, there's no use worrying.

I'm glad your obstetrcian is worried about vitamin D. I wish he/she was equally worried about factors/vitamins A, B, and C. Why is it so hard to understand that the really important vitamins sorted into factors A, B, C, and D when vitamins were discovered by modern science just over one hundred years ago are indeed really important? I guess it's because the discoverers of vitamins over-reached and pronounce recommended daily allowances using insufficient clinical data.

The only information that you might need concerns what you should do in response to having taken your vitamin D prescription faster than prescribed. I can assure you that you don't need any more information. There is nothing even approaching a consensus about what you should do. Worrying is bad. Don't worry. Vitamin D is very important for your baby. Take care of it naturally by getting out into the sun.

The regular sunshine I recommend is believed to provide 10,000 to 20,000 IU per day with minimal risk of side effects. The reason I say "is believed" is that 10,000 to 20,000 IU is just 0.25 to 0.5 milligrams per day -an almost invisible amount. It is very difficult to accurately measure the amount of vitamin D a person makes, and I'm sure there is significant variability from person to person.

I'm surprised your obstetrician would give you a prescription containing 800,000 IU of vitamin D. I would be concerned that 800,000 IU might make the baby uncomfortable or God forbid cause some harm - that's alot of vitamin D to take by mouth. I'm less concerned about whether you get the 800,000 in 2 weeks or 8 weeks. The fact that you have had no side effects is a very good sign.

Vitamins have an amazing safety record. Vitamin D has caused plenty of discomfort but very little lasting harm. Again, I would have been much more worried about your baby if you hadn't taken any vitamin D at all than I am now. What frustrates me is that I just don't see the harm of instructing people with low vitamin D levels to get out into the noontime sun near naked. It feels great with no risk of discomfort.

Here's my take on your situation. There is no treatment indicated for your situation. The probabilty is very very very high that you've done your baby more good than harm. If, God forbid, you have harmed your baby there is nothing helpful to be done that can be supported with solid science. In other words, if there is something helpful to be done, the science supporting such an action is insufficient to generate a consensus amongst scientists.

Vitamin D remains vital to both you and your infant. Vitamin D is, in fact, the easiest vitamin to manage. You don't have to choose a dose and you don't have to risk anything. Just get out, near naked, into the noontime sun on a regular basis and enjoy the glorious warmth of the sun.

Don't use sunblock and don't be stupid (don't get a sunburn)!!

Isn't this just common sense?


At 9:38 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous with Leg Cramps,

You're doing just the right thing letting how you feel guide your dosing of vitamin D. So long as you have no side effects, you've got nothing to worry about. The only thing I'd like to add is that vitamin tolerance varies widely for individuals depending upon age and state of health. The 9000-12000 IU that you are presently taking with no side effects may, at any time, start causing side effects.

This is why I like sunshine. No one blames the sun for side effects. They blame themselves for getting too much sun. It is almost impossible to get too much vitamin D without also getting a sun burn. Everyone knows that getting a sunburn is a stupid thing to do.

Thanks so much for sharing. If you're still taking >9000 IU/day a year from now, please come on back and tell us that you're still able to take >9000 IU per day without side effects.

If you start getting side effects, come on back and tell us that too.

Thanks in advance,


At 2:48 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

To whom it may concern,
I wish alot physicians were aware of Vtiamin Toxicity.
My wife had started 2,000iu of Vitamin D daily about 2 weeks ago at the urging of her nutritionist with what we thought were no side effects(mild ones). Then she had her blood tested they found she was low it was 19.
So her PCP gave her a script for 50,000iu once a week for four weeks then every other for 4 weeks.
After her first 50,000iu pill the problems started the next morning severe bone pain, joint pain, muscle pain,sore throat,ear pain, shortness of breath,headache,nauseau,constipation etc. The doctor or pharmacist never warned us. The doctor of course said this could not cause this. I don't get this the physicaians pharmacists are supposed to be here to help us! They always say the benefits outway the risks what a bunch of BS. No one can function like this. We as patients need to complain and make the government and the medical society take notice on the situation on all drugs,vitamins etc.
Enough is enough we know that it will take awhile for the Vit d to get out of her system in the meantime she has to suffer which is not fair to he r or anyone in the same situation.

At 10:50 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I have been taking 15 to 20 thousand i.u.'s per day for two months without any adverse symptoms. My asthma, for which I was using inhalers 2 to 4 times a day has totally cleared up. I am able to sleep longer in the morning because the nasal congestion I had been having has improved significantly. I am very surprised to read the symptoms people are experiencing at very low vitamin D dosages. My understanding is that toxicity does not occur below 40,000 i.u.'s per day.

At 6:58 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Thanks so much for sharing your story. It is helpful to me to have as many examples as possible of bad experiences with vitamin D supplements. Physicians will be more careful with vitamin D supplements when they fully appreciate that side effects are common.


At 7:05 PM, Blogger Steve said...


Good for you for finding this blog and educating yourself about the possible side effects of the vitamin D supplements you are taking.

It's wonderful that you've found a solution to your asthma and congestion. Vitamin D is indeed one of the four special nutrients. If you want to achieve optimal health, you need to manage your intake of vitamin D, vitamin C, niacin, and thiamine.

I believe there is a high probability that if you continue to take 15 to 20,000 IU/day of vitamin D you will experience side effects. I wouldn't be surprised if you are already experience early signs of side effects and that is what brought you to the site. Please keep us posted. I'm interested in a better understanding of the extremes of vitamin D tolerance.

Thanks for leaving a comment,


At 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was taking 5000iu per day. I also started an exercise and weight training program back in October. In December, I started to feel tired, weak, muscle pain and severe skin burning. I also had palpitations, chest pain and bone pain. I thought maybe I was working out too hard.
I stopped working out and still didn't get any better.
One day I noticed that after taking my vitamins, I felt worse. That's when I researched each vitamin I was taking.
It has been a week since I stopped the vitamin D. I do feel better, however, I tried to exercise and notice that the symptoms get worse. Could this be my body detoxing the D out of my fat cells. Should I continue the exercise to detox faster?

At 3:57 PM, Blogger Steve said...

Dear Anonymous,

I'm terribly sorry for your unnecessary suffering.

One reason I'm writing this website is that I have a deep respect for the feelings of others and want to help people understand what is making them feel well or feel sick. I'm generally in favor of exercise - and further in favor of exercise as a method of accelerating the recovery from vitamin overdose. That said, this is all about feelings. If exercising isn't "worth it" then it isn't worth it.

Exercise, like vitamins, is necessary for optimal health. People seem better able to understand that you can't get the full benefit of exercise without regularly experiencing minor discomforts.

It is so important to continue to document here the consequences to our society from the use of vitamin D pills.

Vitamin D supplements are hugely empowering. They will be used more and more commonly because of the amazing healing powers they provide. Properly dosed vitamin D pills can not do any serious harm to an educated consumer.

Health care providers need to be persuaded by your stories to be more careful.



At 11:53 PM, Anonymous Woodnil said...

I honestly don't know where to start, because it feels so overwhelming to explain everything I've been through. But here goes: The past 3 years after having a serious virus infection i started getting very weird symptoms, severe headaches, stomach pains, muscle pain, fatigue, drowsiness, and fasciculations (muscle twitches) all over my body but mainly in my calfs and arms.

I've been to ALOT of all sorts of tests and scans and every single time they have found absolutely nothing. I started feeling like a hypocondriac because i kept going to my doctor . I've been feeling REALLY sick for a long time. I kept getting sent to different specialists in neurology etc. They never found ANYTHING.

Needless to say I've been extremely worried and had trouble living my life and got depressed and suffered alot from anxiety. One day i read some doctors articles about Fasciculations and the causes for this, and found that Vitamin D and Calcium deficiency could cause this.

Went to my doctor again in november 2009. I told him of what I've read and he didn't really believe it could have anything to do with my symptoms. But he decided to go along with some tests. I waited a week for the bloodtests to come through, they found out I was serverely defficient in Vitamin D and mild defficient in Calcium.

He told me to eat 7 pills of 1000 UI pr. day with D3. For the first week or so i didnt feel a thing, after that I started to feel weird, experienced other symptoms i wasn't used to. But didn't think it could have anything to do with the Vit D. 2 more weeks and I started to get mild nausea but severe pain in my solar plexus area. My doctor thought it could be acid reflux or and ulcer, I then got a camera down my throut and they found nothing. My doctor told me to try not taking the pills for a couple of weeks until my solar plexus pain got better. It never really did. Along with this pain i started to get tinnitus/ringing in my ears from time to time, mostly just in one ear at about 20-30 seconds and it then went away for some hours. And i also starting getting severe sleeping problems. Whenever going to sleep and dosing off i wake up SUDDENLY, raise my head and taking one deep gasp quickly and feel extremely confused and scared. This keeps on going for 5-6 times some nights before I eventually fall asleep.

My doctor decided to give me Vitamin D2 injections instead of the D3 pills. I got the first injection in the beginning of January 2010, first dose in the shot was 300.000UI of d2. (I am shocked to find out how large that dose really is now)

All symptoms kept being there, nothing got better, but I was thinking to myself that i needed to get the Vitamin D in order to get well. After a three weeks I started getting severe nausea, but my doctor told me not to worry and i got my second shot of 300.000ui in the beginning of february. And still wasnt being tested for my levels. I was meant to have my third injection in the beginning of march but i was unable to go the doctor then. But I went 3 days ago. Oddly my nausea got alot better mid march, although all the other symptoms was still there. Decided to go to the doctor to get my third shot because he told me i really needed it. I got that shot 3 and now the nausea is back. it's really hard to take, especially at nights. I also have a metallic taste in my mouth at times, and often feel very thirsty. but the worst thing is definately the thing where i wake up with a BANG several times and gasping before dosing off.

I don't know what to do! I just want it all to go away. Since January 2010 I've gotten 3 injections with 300.000ui each time. Have I been severely overdosed, and what can I do about it? When will the symptoms stop being so extreme? it's almost 5 in the morning here, should be getting some sleep, but i keep waking up. So I decided to write here.. Don't hope it's too long, I just wanted to share my story and hopefully get some help or advice.

Again, thank you!

At 7:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been taking vitamin D 50,000 IU for over a year and half twice a week plus the vitamin D in my twice a day calcium pills. For 4 months my eyelids have been swelling. I've been allergy tested, went to a dermatologist and an opthomologist, stopped wearing contact lenses and makeup with no relief. It just occurred to me maybe the D is the problem. I will stop the 50,000 IU and my calcium & D supplements to see if there is any change. Any suggestions to get the D out of my body faster? I'm beyond frustrated!


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