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Dr Russ Blog - Vitamin D - How Much is Too Much?
Vitamin D - How Much is Too Much?
Created on 6/1/2012

A sent in a very good question about vitamin D - she is on 4 prescription medications along with two supplements and asks if taking 5,000 IU of vitamin D is too much - a lot of people have the same question.

Vitamin D has become a hot topic of discussion over the past few years because of all the processes now recognized to be affected by this vitamin / hormone, including immune system activity, bone health, cardiovascular health, and cancer-fighting activity.

Vitamin D is formed in the skin with sun exposure, yet many people spend their days indoors, and fears of increasing the risk for skin cancer leave the rest of us running for cover (there are safe ways to have sun exposure, of course, including limiting time outdoors between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, and using sunblock appropriately).

In addition, studies show that half our population is deficient in vitamin D, and that number worsens during the winter months, which is why many authorities recommend supplementing the diet with vitamin D.

Supplemental vitamin D comes in two forms - vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) and vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). D3 is preferable because it appears the body uses it more efficiently.

The best way to figure out how much vitamin D to take is to have your doctor do a blood test determining your vitamin D status - the test is called a 25-hydroxy vitamin D level. While a "normal" level is usually identified as being between 30-75 ng/mL I prefer that people generally have a level around 40-45 ng/mL, but ask your doctor to be sure in your unique health circumstances.

A typical dose for vitamin D3 is in the range of 1,000-2,000 IU per day. People who are relatively deficient in vitamin D may require a higher dosage.

Doctors, nurses and pharmacists all learn about the dangers of taking too much vitamin D, but toxicity is seen infrequently provided the daily dose from all sources does not exceed 10,000 IU.

That said, it's important to keep in mind that everyone is different, meaning that you may be more or less sensitive to the effects of vitamin D than someone else, and your health circumstances may dictate the need for a lower dose.

5,000 IU per day is a hefty but not dangerous dose in and of itself, but I don't know your medical history. I usually recommend a lower dose of 2,000 IU daily.

The best way to move forward is to ask your doctor or pharmacist if this dose is right for you, especially in light of the prescription aids and other supplements you are also using. They may recommend the blood test mentioned above.

Kudos to you, A, for being proactive about your health and thank you for a very good question.

Be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **

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