Vitamin D Diet: Benefits of Vitamin D for Optimal Health


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Too much vitamin D can be toxic. The recommended maximum intake is 25 mcg 1, IU for infants and 50 mcg 2, IU for children and adults with normal kidney function. Your doctor can tell you if a supplement is a good choice for you and if you need it.


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Always check with your physician before starting an over-the-counter vitamin, mineral, diet supplement or medicine. Healthy kidneys are rich with vitamin D receptors and play a major role in turning vitamin D into its active form. This helps balance calcium and phosphorus in your body by controlling absorption of these minerals from the food you eat and regulates parathyroid hormone PTH.

When kidneys fail, their ability to activate vitamin D is lost. Without the activated vitamin D to control calcium and phosphorus levels in the blood, PTH will try to overcompensate and go out of range. PTH is secreted by the parathyroid glands that are located in the neck near the thyroid glands. In kidney failure, the parathyroid glands may incorrectly sense that there is not enough calcium in the blood and produce excess parathyroid hormone which tells the body to pull calcium out of the bones and put it in the bloodstream.

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This excess of PTH can cause secondary hyperparathyroidism which can result in bone pain and weak bones that fracture easily. All patients with kidney failure are at risk for secondary hyperparathyroidism. For this reason, PTH levels are routinely monitored through lab work approximately every three months or more often if needed. There are significant problems that may result with excess calcium in the blood stream. These deposits or calcifications will never go away. The consequences of calcification are serious.

If the heart becomes calcified, blood flow may be reduced, which could cause a heart attack. Calcification in the lungs can result in difficulty breathing. And, calcification in joints can cause extreme pain.

PTH levels are checked regularly to make sure the dose of the medicine is correct and that PTH is adequately suppressed but not over-suppressed. If a person has a high blood level of phosphorus or calcium, the physician will often choose not to treat the high PTH with activated vitamin D because there is an increased risk of calcium-phosphorus deposits in the soft tissues.

15 Simple Nutrition Hacks to Get More Vitamin D into Your Diet

Access free kidney-friendly cookbooks from DaVita dietitians. Choose Region to Continue to. So, the amount of vitamin D you get from food depends on the food you eat and how much milk you drink. Certain health conditions. People with conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, or cystic fibrosis, among others, may have trouble absorbing vitamin D, which can lead to deficiencies. Despite the fact that some studies have found an association between low blood levels of vitamin D and various diseases, it hasn't been proven conclusively that a vitamin D deficiency actually causes disease, says Dr.

For example, a woman with a serious illness may have a vitamin D deficiency. But that may have developed because she spends little time outdoors being physically active or because she has a poor diet, both of which are risk factors for many diseases, as well as for deficiency, says Dr. Another issue is that diseases can cause inflammation, which can reduce vitamin D levels in the blood. Obesity, which has its own links to many conditions, can also reduce the amount of vitamin D in the blood because your body stores the vitamin in fat tissue, removing it from the bloodstream, where it would show up on tests.

In addition to figuring out whether a lack of vitamin D causes disease, researchers still need to determine if taking a supplement can reduce these risks, says Dr. Although the research is still hazy, some women will benefit from taking vitamin D supplements, along with sufficient calcium intake, to promote their bone health. But they don't require large amounts of vitamin D to get the benefit.

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In fact, more can be worse," says Dr. For example, a study published in JAMA showed that intake of very high doses of vitamin D in older women was associated with more falls and fractures. In addition, taking a supplement that contains too much vitamin D can be toxic in rare cases. It can lead to hypercalcemia, a condition in which too much calcium builds up in the blood, potentially forming deposits in the arteries or soft tissues. It may also predispose women to painful kidney stones.

If you're taking vitamin D supplements, the take-home message is moderation. Taking too much can limit the benefits of the sunshine vitamin.

enter site Watch your numbers. If you're taking a vitamin D supplement, you probably don't need more than to IU per day, which is adequate for most people.

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Some people may need a higher dose, however, including those with a bone health disorder and those with a condition that interferes with the absorption of vitamin D or calcium, says Dr. Unless your doctor recommends it, avoid taking more than 4, IU per day, which is considered the safe upper limit. Choose food over pills. If possible, it's better to get your vitamin D from food sources rather than supplements see "Selected food sources of vitamin D.


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  • The FDA is making it easier for you to see how much you're getting, thanks to new nutrition labels that will list the vitamin D content of foods. Let your doctor know. Discuss supplement use with your doctor to ensure that the amount you're taking is appropriate for your needs. If you have a well-balanced diet, which regularly includes good sources of vitamin D, you may not need a supplement at all. Disclaimer: As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content.

    Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician. Harvard Women's Health Watch.

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    Vitamin D Diet: Benefits of Vitamin D for Optimal Health Vitamin D Diet: Benefits of Vitamin D for Optimal Health
    Vitamin D Diet: Benefits of Vitamin D for Optimal Health Vitamin D Diet: Benefits of Vitamin D for Optimal Health
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