Vitamin D warning: The easily missed toilet habit that could signal too much vitamin D
Vitamin D helps to regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body – nutrients needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. If a person lacks vitamin D they can be at increased risk of bone deformities such as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. From late March/early April most people should be able to get all the vitamin they need from sunlight.
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But between October and early March, when daylight hours are shorter and the weather changes with less sunny days, some people may not get enough.
During autumn and winter the Department of Health recommends taking a vitamin D supplement.
But taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can lead to weakened bones, damage to the kidneys and the heart.
The main consequence of vitamin D “toxicity”, according to Mayo Clinic, is a buildup of calcium in the blood, known as hypercalcemia.
This can cause a range of symptoms, one of which is frequent urination.
It explains: “Hypercalcemia can cause nausea and vomiting, weakness, and frequent urination.
“Symptoms might progress to bone pain and kidney problems, such as the formation of calcium stones.”
A person with hypercalcemia may experience an increased need to pee because too much calcium means the kidneys having to work harder.
As a result, a person may urinate more often, leading to dehydration and increased thirst.
How much vitamin D supplements should you take?
If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10 micrograms a day is enough for most people.
The NHS warns: “Don’t take more than 100 micrograms of vitamin D a day as it could be harmful.
“This applies to adults, including pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly, and children aged 11 to 17 years.
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“Children aged 1 to 10 years shouldn’t have more than 50 micrograms a day. Infants under 12 months shouldn’t have more than 25 micrograms a day.
“Some people have medical conditions that mean they may not be able to safely take as much. If in doubt, you should consult your doctor.
“If your doctor has recommended you take a different amount of vitamin D, you should follow their advice.”
It’s important to note you cannot overdose on vitamin D through exposure to sunlight.
Who should take vitamin D supplements?
Some people stand risk of not getting enough vitamin D from sunlight because they have very little or no sunshine exposure.
You should take a vitamin D supplement if you:
- Aren’t often outdoors – for example, if you’re frail or housebound
- Are in an institution like a care home
- Usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outdoors
If you have dark skin, for example if you have an African, African-Caribbean or south Asian background, you may also risk not getting enough vitamin D from sunlight.
Anyone who falls into these categories should consider taking a supplement throughout the year.
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