Volume 5, Issue 16
April 19, 2012

How much vitamin D is too much?

Last week, I introduced you to Millie. Millie is a thin woman who is at high risk for osteoporosis. Because of her high risk, I wanted to make sure her vitamin D, calcium, and parathyroid hormone levels were all in the optimal ranges. When I found that her parathyroid hormone was too high, I recommended she take 10,000 IU of vitamin D to lower them. Here’s what happened...

After two months, I measured Millie’s calcium, vitamin D, and parathyroid hormone levels again. Her calcium level was normal, and her vitamin D level was at a very healthy 73 ng/ml. That’s the range I want most of my patients to be in. So things were great so far.

Furthermore, I was expecting to see her parathyroid hormone level decrease. Remember, it was high in the first place because she was not getting enough vitamin D. And decrease it did — all the way down to 2 pg/ml. Now it was too low. Her body was telling me that I was giving her too much vitamin D despite the fact that her blood vitamin D level was statistically perfect.

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So I decreased her vitamin D intake to 5,000 units per day. Sure enough, the next time her vitamin D level was 52 ng/ml, her calcium level was still normal, and her parathyroid level was perfect at 34 pg/ml. So why am I telling you all of this?

I think this case is very important. I know that there are many people out there who are taking high levels of vitamin D for various reasons. And while it is true that statistically getting a vitamin D level of about 70 ng/ml is the best level for most, Millie’s case shows that it is not the best level for all. For some people that will be too much. So here’s what I advise.

Take enough vitamin D to get your level close to 70 ng/ml. This might involve several blood checks while you steadily increase your vitamin D intake. For most people, I find that the proper dose is going to be between 5,000 and 10,000 units per day. Then, after you have achieved a level close to 70 ng/ml, check your blood calcium level and your parathyroid hormone level. If they are both normal, great. You have proof that your body likes that dose of vitamin D. But if the parathyroid hormone level is too low, or the calcium level is above range, this is your body’s way of telling you that the vitamin D dose needs to be decreased.

Vitamin D supplements are necessary for almost everyone and especially for those at risk for osteoporosis. But you do need to make sure you’re not taking too much. Talk to an integrative physician to make sure your levels are appropriate for you. You can order a 5,000 IU vitamin D tablet by following this link.

Finding your Real Cures,

Frank Shallenberger, MD

 

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