Vitamin D is essential for good health and sufficient quantities are required to help the body function normally. Various benefits of the sunshine vitamin are scientifically proven and this makes it necessary for certain categories of individuals to opt for vitamin D3 supplements to make up for the deficiency. Deficiency is attributed to many reasons and this makes it necessary for these individuals to take the required amount of supplements. While it is generally regarded as safe, there are possible side effects that can be experienced – here is a good look at Vitamin D3 side effects and the best ways of mitigating the same.

Overview of Vitamin D3

Vitamin is important for bone health and to prevent the onset of certain cancers. There are clear indications of vitamin deficiency, which will help individuals identify the need for supplementing vitamin D3. For instance, whenever patients experience muscle pain, or fatigue or depression that is not associated or attributed to other reasons, then depending on other conditions, it could mean vitamin D3 deficiency. Before we look at vitamin d3 side effects it is necessary to understand more about the vitamin. It is unique, in that the skin produces Vitamin D3 through sunlight. By virtue of the manner in which the skin produces vitamin D3, individuals with fair skin get the benefit of faster and better conversion/production of Vitamin D than individuals with relatively darker skin. Similarly, individuals aged above 50 are at a slight disadvantage relatively as the production of vitamin in the skin from sunlight is degraded.

Primary or common sources of vitamin D

The primary sources of vitamin D are typically limited to a few sources. For instance, the most convenient source of vitamin D is adequate exposure to sunlight. In addition to being the cheapest source, it is also the best source of vitamin D. Other sources of vitamin D include dietary intake, and fortified food products. Nutritional supplements are the other possible source of vitamin D that help individuals meet the daily recommended intake or requirement. Exposure to the sunlight is a simple requirement, and typically involves the need to be exposed to the sunlight for just 15 to 20 minutes thrice a week. It is not necessary to constantly remain exposed to the sunlight for extended periods of time, as this may then result in other types of skin cancers.

Importance of vitamin D3 for the body – standout benefits

Before taking a look at vitamin d3 side effects it is necessary to understand the potential benefits of the vitamin and its need. Strong bones are a necessity and help improve overall health. Adults with weak bones are known to suffer from a condition medically known as osteomalacia. The onset of rickets is attributed to poor bone health. Children are known to suffer from rickets as a result of weak and soft bones. This is attributed to vitamin D deficiency. The role of vitamin D is to facilitate calcium and phosphorous to build strong bones.

Calcium levels in the body are balanced by the parathyroid glands, which are responsible for ensuring the right calcium levels by maintaining communication between the kidneys, the guts and the skeleton. When the right amount of vitamin D is made available to the body, it is absorbed and utilised effectively. When vitamin D levels are inadequate, this triggers utilisation of calcium from the skeleton to maintain blood calcium levels. This results in depletion of calcium from the skeleton, that will, in turn out to be unhealthy for the individual, compromising routine abilities.

The role of Vitamin D in bone health is mainly the manner in which it combines with calcium to keep bones strong. Degradation in bone density – osteoporosis – has the possibility of resulting in fractures. Aged individuals are known to easily fracture bones, as a result of weakened bones. The mechanism of action of vitamin D in helping bone health is primarily the conversion of sunlight or oral supplements into vitamin D in an active form. This results in the increased absorption of calcium from dietary intake.

Ill effects of vitamin D deficiency and consequences

It is important to understand fully the ill effects of d\vitamin D deficiency before learning all about vitamin d3 side effects. While individuals are aware of the role of vitamin D in ensuring proper health, most may remain unaware of the ill effects of vitamin D deficiency. For instance, heart diseases and hypertension are possible as a result of vitamin D3 deficiency. When vitamin D3 levels dip below the desired levels, the protection or contribution to a heathy heart and the right blood pressure levels is removed, and this could result in ailments. Similarly, vitamin D3 deficiency can also result in possible diabetes, apart from contributing to various immune system disorders. The possibility of individuals being exposed to infections cannot be ruled as a result of the weakened immune system.

Issues that can be attributed to deficiency in vitamin D3 include the possibility of more falls and consequent fractures in individuals, especially the older generation. Cancers that are attributed to vitamin D3 deficiency include colon cancer, cancer of the breast, and prostate cancer. Vitamin D3 helps individuals maintain good health with some form of protection against these cancers. When the protection is degraded, the individuals are exposed to the possibility of ending up with these specific types of cancer. Similarly, individuals are also at risk of ending up with multiple sclerosis as a result of inadequate vitamin D3 levels.

How can diet help in supplying the desired levels of vitamin D3?

While vitamin d3 side effects are attributed to excessive intake of vitamin D3, it is necessary to ensure that adequate levels are supplied. Most food products do not have vitamin D, and in certain food products the presence of vitamin D is mainly by fortification. In other words, vitamin D is added to the food products, and nutrition supplements. However, lactose intolerant individuals who are on strict vegetarian diets are unlikely to get adequate vitamin D3 from regular dietary intake. As a result of this distinct disadvantage many vegetarians who belong to the category of lactose intolerant individuals turn to supplements and fortified food products to receive the desired level of nutrition.

Reasons behind vitamin D3 deficiency and how to sort the problem?

As mentioned earlier, vitamin d3 side effects are mostly attributed to excessive intake of vitamin D3. It is therefore necessary to understand the reasons behind vitamin D3 deficiency, so as to take the right kind of measures to supplement the deficiency to just the required levels. The deficiency is sometimes attributed to medical conditions. For instance, patients suffering from Cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease are more likely to end up with vitamin D deficiency. Similarly, individuals with Crohn’s disease are also likely to develop vitamin D3 deficiency. The common condition among all these ailments is the degradation of the ability of the intestines to absorb adequate levels of vitamin D. As a result, individuals are less likely to receive the required nutrition through dietary or oral intake.

Individuals who have undergone certain procedures are also at risk of developing vitamin D3 deficiency. For instance, weight loss surgeries are likely to cause a reduction in the size of the stomach, and this will create a situation where the body is unable to intake the required levels of vitamins and other nutrients or minerals that are necessary.

Similarly, bypass procedures of the stomach will also compromise the ability of the individuals to absorb or intake adequate quantities of vitamins including vitamin D3.
Other possible reasons for deficiency of vitamin D3 includes obesity. Individuals with a body mass index that is in excess of 30 are also at risk of suffering lower levels of vitamin D. This is mainly attributed to the fact vitamin D is sequestered by fat cells and will not be in a position to release. As a result, individuals who are overweight are more likely to have vitamin D deficiency. Finally, other reasons for vitamin D3 deficiency include kidney ailments and hepatic ailments. Individuals suffering from these conditions will end up with a compromised ability – wherein the enzyme required for changing vitamin D to an active form is reduced. When this is reduced in the body, the body is unable to use the active form and this causes deficiency.

Additionally, other reasons contribute towards vitamin D3 deficiency. For instance, the ability of the skin to produce or facilitate the conversion of vitamin D is degraded with advancing age. Individuals who cross a particular age are likely to have vitamin D3 deficiency due to the inability of the skin to help this function. Individuals who are unable to move around freely, either due to advancing age or due to certain mobility issues are also likely to suffer from vitamin D3 deficiency. As a result of lesser mobility, individuals may be unable to receive exposure to sunlight and this will cause deficiency.

In such instances, it is then necessary to use fortified sources of food products to make up for the shortfall. This gets com[pounded further fi the individual has dark skin. The ability of the skin to produce or facilitate the production of vitamin D increases when the ski is light colored, and this places dark skinned individuals at a disadvantage. Finally, infants are also exposed to the possibility of receiving inadequate levels of vitamin D3. This because human breast milk contains lesser quantities of the vitamin. Various formulations specifically intended for infants include fortified products that help to increase the amount of vitamin D3 in infants.

The link between medications and vitamin D3 deficiency

There is a clear link between medications and vitamin D3 deficiency. For instance, certain medications are known to bring about vitamin D3 deficiency. This knowledge is essential as it will help prevent excessive intake of the vitamin which can result in vitamin d3 side effects. Individuals on laxatives are at risk of ending up with vitamin D3 deficiency. Similarly, certain steroids are also known to have an impact on vitamin D3 levels in the body. Patients with high cholesterol levels are likely to be on appropriate medications for lowering cholesterol levels. This may end up causing a degradation of vitamin D3 levels. Other medications that can cause an impact include drugs used for treating seizures, medications for treating tuberculosis, and medications used for weight control. Tis makes it necessary for individuals on any medications or herbal supplements to seek medical advice about the impact on vitamin D3 levels in the body.

Daily average requirement of vitamin D3

Some of the vitamin d3 side effects are attributed to excessive intake and it is therefore important to understand how much is too much. With the right intake of vitamin D3, it is possible to prevent vitamin d3 side effects that are attributed to excessive quantities. Typically, vitamin D3 levels and requirements are assessed on various parameters that includes age. There are general recommendations on the desired or optimum levels of vitamin D3, and the specific requirements or levels will actually differ from person to person.

Most recommendations are on the basis of blood test taken by doctors when treating other conditions or when specifically look for the right levels of vitamin D3. For instance, individuals with osteoporosis are typically recommended blood tests to determine the required levels of vitamin D. Depending on the levels determined in the blood tests, specialists then recommend the desired levels or supplements to boost and make up the shortfall. Ideally, the average supplement dose for elderly individuals is around 800 to 2000 IUs (International Units) every day. A rough equivalent of 800 IU is 20 mcg. This level is safe and can be taken without the need for any prescription. In other words, this quantity and formulation is safe and can be taken as OTC by elderly individuals when in need without any apprehensions of any vitamin d3 side effects.

The table below depicts the recommended daily average that can be taken by individuals.

Age groupRDA (min – max)
<6 months400 – 1000
6-12 months400 – 1500
1-3 years600 – 2500
4-8 years600 – 3000
9-70 years600 – 4000
70 years>800 – 4000
Pregnant women, nursing mothers in 14-50 years age group600 – 4000

Common symptoms that indicate vitamin D3 deficiency

To understand more about vitamin d3 side effects it is necessary to also learn all about the possible symptoms of the side effects. Children with rickets can be identified by carefully monitoring a change in growth patterns. Easily identifiable symptoms include a general weakness in the muscles, and certain abnormalities in the joints. Children are also likely to suffer from pain in the bones. While most of the symptoms are not common, there is a possibility of it occurring. Muscle soreness and pain in the joints are relatively common when compared with other manifestations. In the case of adults, the manifestations are not easy to discern or identify. While there is a possibility of pain in the bones or any abnormal fatigue, it is certainly hard to discern or quickly attribute it to vitamin D3 deficiency. Similarly, adults are also likely to experience a general weakness in the muscles, apart from cramps. Abnormal mood swings or depression is also a possibility among individuals and these could help zero in on the condition.

How to diagnose vitamin D3 deficiency and eliminate the possibility of vitamin d3  side effects

Typically blood tests are used for determining vitamin D levels in the body. One of two different tests are used for determining the levels or deficiency, with 25-hydroxyvitamin D considered as the most common or popular test. This diagnosis involves the use of blood samples taken by a trained laboratory technician from the veins. Blood samples provided for this test do not require any kind of advance preparation by the individual. For instance, in certain blood tests the individuals are required to provide samples when fasting and after consuming food. These requirements are not necessary for this test.

Commonly reported side effects

The commonly reported vitamin d3 side effects include hypercalcemia, with typical symptoms including feelings of nausea, and poor appetite. Individuals who take more than the recommended daily intake are likely to experience abnormally high levels of thirst. There is also the possibility of an increased urge to urinate frequently. Individuals are more likely to experience bouts of constipation, and general weakness. The possibility of confusion is also high among individuals who take more than the necessary levels of vitamin D. Among other vitamin d3 side effects ataxia is another condition that results in the slurring of words, which is effectively a neurological condition. The best methods for preventing vitamin d3 side effects are to take only the recommended intake and never to exceed the intake. The recommended doses should also be on the basis of diagnosis of conditions while also considering other pre-existing conditions and medications being taken. There are possible interactions that are attributed to supplements and this must be factored in while taking supplements. ​

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