How much vitamin D is way WAY too much?

Mountain of D

I find it amazing that nearly every day something new is reported about vitamin D. I mean, if Betty White walked through Times Square on 10-foot stilts while tossing $100 dollar bills, I think she would get less media attention than vitamin D does every day.

I exaggerate, but you get the idea.

Today is no exception. Before noon I found two D items with very important information for Betty White and all of her fellow seniors, and one additional D item that can only be described as truly bizarre.

More is better…

We’ll start with the International Osteoporosis Foundation.

After examining evidence in support of raising recommended daily intake of vitamin D, IOF researchers issued a new position statement specifically aimed at older adults.

Their two key dosage recommendations:
1) Daily intake of 800 to 1,000 IU
2) Daily intake of 2,000 for those who have osteoporosis, get limited sun exposure, or are obese

This higher dosage is absolutely a step in the right direction, but it’s just starting to approach the daily D intake long recommended by Jonathan V. Wright, M.D.: Between 1,600 and 2,000 IU daily, and as much as 4,000 IU for those over the age of 40.

Vitamin D item number two underlines the fact that D intake is just as important for muscle function as bone health.

Wake Forest University researchers examined data from a study that measured blood levels of D in more than 2,780 elderly subjects. Three blood samples were taken from each subject over the course of four years.

Results showed that higher blood levels of D were linked to better physical function, while about 90 percent of subjects with the lowest D levels had poorer physical function.

…but way too much is too much

And finally, Australian researchers mounted a D study to solve a problem.

It seems that many older people don’t stick to their daily regimen of D supplements. So…what if they took a year’s worth of vitamin D all at once in a single day?

Dr. Spreen–who is a passionate advocate of high dosages of most vitamin supplements–gave me this take on that idea: “Dumbest thing I ever saw.”

The Australian team divided about 2,250 community-dwelling women into two groups. For three to five years, one group took a huge pile of placebo pills in a single day, while another group took an equally huge pile of pills containing HALF A MILLION IUs of vitamin D.


Researchers thought women in the D group would have stronger bones and fewer fractures. But no.

Women in the D group were 15 percent more likely to fall, and 26 percent more likely to suffer a bone fracture compared to placebo.

You could make a case that the Australians were on the right track. After all, your body stores excess D for use when sun exposure is limited.

But as good as D is, extremely high levels prompt toxicity symptoms that include weakness, which would obviously increase risk of falls. D toxicity also causes problems with heart health and cognitive function.

Sure, it would be convenient to take a year’s worth of supplements in one day and then forget about them for the rest of the year. But humans aren’t cars with 500,000 IU gas tanks.

Better to use a sticky note to remind yourself: Take your daily D.

To Your Good Health,

Jenny Thompson

“Bone Charity Calls for Vit D Level Hikes for the Elderly” Stephen Daniells, NutraIngrediens-USA, nutraingredients-
“Vitamin D May Boost Physical Function for Seniors: Study” Stephen Daniells, NutraIngrediens-USA, nutraingredients-
“Annual High-Dose Oral Vitamin D and Falls and Fractures in Older Women” Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 303, No. 18, 5/12/10,