What causes high vitamin D levels? What are the symptoms and normal levels of this vitamin? The following article answers these questions elaborately and also talks about the adverse effects of an overdose of vitamin D supplements.
Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, so this vitamin is also referred to as ‘sunshine vitamin’. It plays an important role in maintaining the levels of calcium and phosphorus in the body. It is an essential vitamin, which comes in several forms, like D1, D2, D3, D4, and D5. However, only D2 and D3 are made available through vitamin supplements. Sunlight and certain natural foods, like tuna, mackerel, cod liver oil, fortified milk and juice, etc., are rich sources of this vitamin.
A poor diet and lack of exposure to sunlight can result in its deficiency. Doctors prescribe vitamin D supplements when they notice deficiency symptoms, like weak bones, weak immune system, insomnia, mood swings, etc. However, excessive consumption of these supplements can result in an abnormal increase in the levels of sunshine vitamin.
Normal Levels of Vitamin D in the Blood
The normal range of vitamin D for healthy adults is 30 to 74 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter). The value may vary slightly from laboratory to laboratory and also from country to country. A level lower than 30 ng/ml indicates deficiency of the vitamin, whereas a level above 74 ng/ml suggests elevated levels. This elevated condition is also known as ‘hypervitaminosis D’. Given below is the required information regarding the recommended daily dietary allowance (RDA) of this vitamin.
- Infants (0 – 12) months: 400 IU (10 mcg)
- Kids (1 – 13) years: 600 IU (15 mcg)
- Children (14 – 18 years): 600 IU (15 mcg)
- Adults (19 – 70 years): 600 IU (15 mcg)
- Adults above 70 years: 800 IU (20 mcg)
- Pregnant Women (14 – 50 years): 600 IU (15 mcg)
- Lactating women (14 – 50 years): 600 IU (15 mcg)
This amount of sunshine vitamin can be obtained by simply exposing ourselves to a few minutes of sunlight everyday.
Symptoms of Increased Levels of Vitamin D
Over exposure to sunlight or excessive intake of foods rich in this vitamin does not cause the levels to increase. Excessive consumption of vitamin supplements can result in side effects. If an adult consumes more than 1000 IU of sunshine vitamin, then the overdose symptoms are noticed. The dosage may vary according to the age and diet of a person.
As vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, its excess amount cannot be flushed away from the body along with excess water. The excess amount gets stored in the body, which then exhibits harmful symptoms. A few have been mentioned below:
- Anorexia (an eating disorder)
- Muscle weakness
- Weight loss
- Nervousness and depression
- Increased irritability
- Heart arrhythmia
- Kidney stone, polyuria, or even complete renal failure
Increased levels of sunshine vitamin can raise the calcium levels, which may result in vascular and tissue calcification. This can damage the heart, blood vessels, and kidneys of the person. To avoid the side effects, always consult a doctor for the correct dosage of the supplement and follow the instructions pertaining to the dosage very strictly.
Tolerable Upper Intake Levels of Vitamin D
- Infants (0 – 6 months): 1000 IU (25 mcg)
- Infants (7 – 12 months): 1500 IU (38 mcg)
- Kids (1 – 3 years): 2500 IU (63 mcg)
- Kids (4 – 8 years): 3000 IU (75 mcg)
- Children and Adults (above 9 or of 9 years): 4000 IU (100 mcg)
- Pregnant and lactating women: 4000 IU (100 mcg)
All vitamins help in strengthening the immune system and boosting the energy levels significantly. However, one should bear in mind that not only their deficiencies but their excessive intake can also result in several health complications, like toxicity. A healthy diet and good eating habits along with regular exercises help in maintaining normal levels of vitamins and other nutrients. For vitamin D deficiency, it is always better to incorporate foods that are rich in this vitamin instead of taking supplements.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.