Are these Vitamin D pills making me sick?

“I want to be healthy, so I started taking Vitamin D supplements. Now I feel terrible.  I’m worried I have Vitamin D toxicity! What are the Vitamin D overdose symptoms? Am I in serious danger?”

You may have this fear when starting Vitamin D supplementation. So, “How much Vitamin D is right right amount me to take?”

But first, just in case you or your child has overdosed on Vitamin D, call 911, your physician, and/or poison control. If you have any doubt whether you need medical attention for any reason, please call 911 or your physician as well. Better safe than sorry.

Search for some short-term signs of Vitamin D overdose and here’s what you’ll find:

loss of appetite,
diarrhea, constipation,
nausea and vomiting,
bone pain,
irregular heart beat,
muscle and joint pain,
high blood pressure,
kidney failure

And here’s what you’ll find if you search for longer-term signs of Vitamin D overdosing:

Increased risk of kidney stones
Nerve Issues – numbness, pain, burning, prickling, parasthesias, etc.
Muscle – pain, cramps, atrophy

A large part of what happens during overdose/toxicity of Vitamin D: hypercalcemia (hi blood level of Ca++, or too much calcium in the blood) which causes the host of other symptoms.

So, because I’m not a physician, remember: If you have any doubt whether you need medical attention for any reason, please call 911 or your physician as well. Better safe than sorry.


You won’t find a single case of someone having Vitamin D overdose symptoms from sun exposure alone (and not taking Vitamin D supplements). There are very rare cases of people with Vitamin D and sun sensitivities, but there are no documented cases of overdosing on Vitamin D from sun exposure.

In fact, some researchers suggest that our “natural” limit for Vitamin D (from sunshine) is around 10,000 IU’s per day. This is the amount of Vitamin D thought to be gained from total-body sun exposure per day. [2]


What’s next if you suspect you have overdosed? First, get medical attention, I’m not a physician.

Next, your physician will likely run tests to confirm that you have hypercalcemia (the main symptom of Vitamin D overdose).

If your physician thinks you have indeed overdosed on Vitamin D, they immediately ensure that you are not taking any more Vitamin D. Then, they’ll begin lowering your calcium levels with IV hydration, corticosteroids, and bisphonates.


Although the US Recommended Daily Allowance for Vitamin D is 400 IU’s per day, it will take tons more that to kill a person (except in the rare hypersensitive person).

In 2007 Poison Control [4] reported Vitamin D statistics of: 596 total exposures, 1 major outcome, and 0 deaths.

So, there are actually EXTREMELY few cases of death resulting from Vitamin D. But, then again most people don’t dabble in extremely high doses of Vitamin D supplements. So, it’s unlikely, but be smart about it.


There are far more people suffering from Vitamin D malnutrition than there are people suffering from overdose. In the words of Vitamin D expert, Dr. John Jacob Cannell, MD, “…worrying about vitamin D toxicity is like dying of thirst in the desert while worrying about drowning.” [3]


From the Office of Dietary Supplements at the National Institutes of Health, you’ll find that “tolerable upper intake levels” (maximum daily intake unlikely to cause adverse health effects) for children 0-12 months in age is 1000 IU’s per day. For children ages 1-14 it is 2000 IU’s per day.[5] According to the same article, adults also have a tolerable limit of 2000 IU’s per day.

These tolerable levels are being pushed by many scientists and researchers. Some suggest using 5000 IU’s of Vitamin D supplementation is safe for adults. To play it safe, stay within the published NIH ranges, however. If you decide to deviate as it may or not be safe, please be sure to get your Vitamin D blood levels tested regularly and consult with your physician.


[1] Jackson RD, LaCroix AZ, Gass M, Wallace RB, Robbins J, Lewis CE, et al. Calcium plus vitamin D supplementation and the risk of fractures. N Engl J Med 2006;354:669-83. (

[2] Reinhold Vieth, Vitamin D supplementation, 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations, and safety, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 69, No. 5, 842-856, May 1999.
10,000 is our bio-natural limit for Vitamin D –

[3] John Jacob Cannell, MD, Executive Director of the Vitamin D Council –

[4] Bronstein AC, Spyker DA, Cantilena LR Jr, Green JL, Rumack BH, Heard SE. 2007 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System (NPDS): 25th Annual Report. Clin Toxicol (Phila). Dec 2008;46(10):927-1057.

[5], which refers to Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Fluoride. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1997.


  • December 14, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Please put the scare tactics in the beginning in the waste basket or in the end of the article. You said yourself, “worrying about vitamin D toxicity is like dying of thirst in the desert while worrying about drowning.” That is the fat and skinny about it. The reason there are “tolerable” limit sets of vitamin D3 is so that it can be regulated and Big Pharma can make money off of their junky drugs like the flu shots. They know Vitamin D works. They did the same thing to Vitamin A.

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