You’ve heard it all before: too much of a good thing — even vitamins — can be bad for you. While vitamins are essential nutrients your body requires to function correctly, they can also do more harm than good when consumed in large quantities. Take vitamin D for example. Your body can only handle a certain amount of it or else risk some adverse effects. Here, we take an in-depth look at the nutrient, as well as the risks of overdosing on vitamin D.
LEARN HOW TO PREVENT OVERDOSING ON VITAMIN D
WHAT IS VITAMIN D?
First of all, let’s dig into what vitamin D actually is. Put simply, vitamin D is a fat-soluble nutrient that your body produces as a reaction to sun exposure. This is why it’s often referred to as the ‘sunshine vitamin’.
While vitamin D isn’t found in most foods, there are some good sources out there. Salmon, tuna, mackerel and other fatty fish come to mind. You can also find the nutrient in cheese and egg yolks. There are also breakfast cereals, energy bars and beverages that come fortified with the vitamin.
Vitamin D plays a key role when it comes to immune system function, as well as growth and development. It also aids in calcium, magnesium and phosphate absorption.
Apart from that, vitamin D has been linked to lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease and multiple sclerosis. A study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information concluded that it is biologically plausible for vitamin D to play a role in the prevention or treatment of cardiovascular disease. Other studies have shown that vitamin D can also aid weight loss and fight against depression.
DEFICIENCY (HYPOVITAMINOSIS D)
A vitamin D deficiency can be dangerous, as it may result in muscle weakness and issues with bone health. Lightheadedness, osteomalacia, osteoporosis, periodontitis and depression are all problems that may arise when you lack vitamin D.
Hypovitaminosis D typically occurs when you don’t get enough sun exposure, particularly involving ultraviolet B rays. This is why it’s important to get some much-needed sunlight every now and then, as well as incorporate vitamin D-rich foods into your diet. If you fear that you’re at risk of vitamin D deficiency, talk to your doctor about possibly taking supplements.
OVERDOSING ON VITAMIN D
On the other hand, overdosing on vitamin D is also a health hazard. Also known as hypervitaminosis D, consuming too much of this nutrient — particularly in supplement form — can lead to hypercalcemia, a condition characterised by an abnormally high level of calcium in your blood.
An excess of vitamin D can also cause hypertension, as well as bone loss. Similarly, consuming unnecessarily large quantities of vitamin D can damage your kidneys. Common symptoms of vitamin D toxicity include confusion, constipation, dehydration, dizziness, excessive thirst, fatigue, frequent urination, irritability, muscle weakness, nausea, poor appetite, stomach pain and vomiting.
Contrary to popular belief, extreme consumption of vitamins doesn’t guarantee a longer and healthier life. Vitamin D is essential — there’s no doubt about that — but you must make sure you’re well within the recommended dietary allowance. Overdosing on vitamin D has some serious side effects. When in doubt, the best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle is to eat a balanced diet and exercise regularly.