‘Essential’ to supplement with vitamin D in winter – too much can lead to hypercalcemia


Vitamin D is a chemical that the human body makes from sunlight during the summer. During the winter, however, our body cannot produce enough sunlight. As a result, the NHS recommends people take vitamin D supplements to boost their immune systems during cold and flu season. Although supplementation can be effective, experts warn that it can have consequences; Express.co.uk spoke to two experts about what can happen.

Ross Austen, head of research and nutrition at MOJU, told Express.co.uk: “For those living in the UK, it is essential that we supplement with vitamin D, particularly during the months winter, from October to May, the intensity of sunlight is not strong enough to naturally produce vitamin D from the sun.As a result, we rely solely on our diet and supplements for us make sure you stay healthy.

On vitamin D overdoses, Austen warned: “It is quite rare but potentially serious to take too much vitamin D. Excess consumption would lead to a buildup of calcium which could damage the heart, kidneys and blood vessels.

Although it sounds nerve-wracking, Austen added, “However, you would need to take extremely large doses to achieve this.”

As for how the right dosage can be achieved, Austen said, “Consumers are encouraged to supplement with products. Vitamin D is crucial for maintaining and supporting many aspects of human health, including bone health, muscle function, and immune health.

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The risks of taking too much vitamin D are reflected by Dr. Paula Oliveira who pointed out how too much vitamin D can affect the body in several ways.

Dr Oliveira said: “Taking too much vitamin D can cause the body to lose its ability to eliminate excess calcium. As a result, you could develop hypercalcemia, which promotes digestive problems (nausea, stomach pain, vomiting or constipation), fatigue, loss of appetite, dehydration and kidney problems (kidney stones, kidney damage or renal failure).

Moreover, this is not just a case of a single dosage; Depending on your height, gender and age, it will depend on how much vitamin D you need.

On this, Dr. Oliveira said, “Children under 12 months should take 400 IU or 10 mcg of vitamin D daily. Children 1 to 13 years old should take 600 IU or 15 mcg of vitamin D.”

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Meanwhile, for slightly older children and young adults, Dr Oliveira says: “For young adults (14-18) I recommend 600IU or 15mcg of the ‘sunshine’ vitamin per day.

“This dose may also work for adults (19-70) and pregnant or breastfeeding women. For people aged 71 and over, I strongly advise you to take 800IU or 20mcg of vitamin D daily.

The advice suggested by Oliveira and Austen is mirrored by the NHS. On what can happen if too much vitamin D is taken, they warned: “Taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can lead to an excessive buildup of calcium in the body (hypercalcemia).

“It can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart. If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10 micrograms per day will be enough for most people.

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Additionally, they added, “Do not take more than 100 micrograms (4,000 IU) of vitamin D per day as it may be harmful. This applies to adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly, as well as children aged 11-17.

“Children 1 to 10 years old should not take more than 50 micrograms (2,000 IU) per day. Infants under 12 months should not take more than 25 micrograms (1000 IU) per day.

The NHS said there may be some exceptions such as: “Some people have medical conditions which mean they may not be able to take as much safely.

“If in doubt, you should consult your doctor. If your doctor has recommended that you take a different amount of vitamin D, you should follow their advice.

Can you overdose on vitamin D from sunlight?

No, it is impossible to overdose on vitamin D from the sun. The NHS confirmed: “You cannot overdose on vitamin D from exposure to the sun. But remember to cover or protect your skin if you go out in the sun for long periods to reduce the risk of skin damage and skin cancer.

Therefore, while it is impossible to overdose on vitamin D through sun exposure, it is still possible to be damaged by the sun in other ways.

While winter means heat-related conditions probably won’t be a problem, it shows the power of the sun in both natural and supplement form.

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