Vitamin D warning: Pain in this area of the body may mean you’ve had too many supplements
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin responsible for regulating the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body – nutrients needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. And it’s important to get enough vitamin D, because a lack of the vitamin can lead to bone deformities in children and bone pain in adults.
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From late March/early April to the end of September, most people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight outside.
But between October and early March we don’t get enough vitamin D from sunlight.
To make sure we get enough vitamin D during these months, health officials recommend taking a vitamin D supplement.
However, taking too many vitamin D supplements can lead to its own complications, such as stomach pain.
Stomach pain is a common digestive complaint that is often related to for intolerances or conditions like irritable bowel syndrome.
But it can also be a sign of elevated calcium levels caused by vitamin D intoxication.
Because vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium from the food you eat, if vitamin D is taken in excess, blood calcium may reach levels that can cause unpleasant symptoms like stomach pain.
In one case study, a boy developed stomach pain after taking improperly labeled vitamin D supplements, whereas his brother experienced elevated blood levels without any other symptoms.
In another case study, an 18-month-old child was given 50,000 IU of vitamin D3 for three months.
They experienced stomach pain, as well as diarrhoea and other symptoms,
The child’s symptoms then resolved after they topped taking the supplements.
The NHS also reiterates the importance of not taking too much vitamin D.
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It says: “Taking too many vitamin D supplements over a long period of time can cause too much calcium to build up in the body (hypercalcaemia). This can weaken the bones and damage the kidneys and the heart.
“If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 10 micrograms a day will be enough for most people.
“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.
“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.
“You cannot overdose on vitamin D through exposure to sunlight. But always remember to cover up or protect your skin if you’re out in the sun for long periods to reduce the risk of skin damage and skin cancer.”
How else can I get vitamin D?
Vitamin D is also found in a small number of foods, including:
- Oily fish
- Red meat
- Egg yolks
- Fortified foods – such as most fat spreads and some breakfast cereals
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