Can Vitamin D Cause Kidney Stones

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Can Vitamin D Cause Kidney Stones

According to recent research, increased vitamin D levels may help prevent a variety of diseases. Previous research, however, raised concerns that vitamin D supplementation could increase a person's risk of developing kidney stones.

What Are the Consequences of Getting Too Much Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is an important nutrient that helps your body absorb calcium, which aids in the formation of strong bones. It is also beneficial to the immune system, nervous system, and muscles. This vitamin deficiency has also been linked to mental illnesses like depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Around 40% of Americans may be vitamin D deficient, with Black and Hispanic adults having the highest risk.  Many people can benefit from increasing their vitamin D intake to adequate levels through sun exposure, dietary changes, or, if necessary, physician-recommended supplementation.

While vitamin D deficiency is a very common problem, it is also possible—though uncommon—to have too much vitamin D. Too much vitamin D, also known as vitamin D toxicity or hypervitaminosis D, can have serious health consequences. This is why it's critical to consult your doctor before taking any supplements to ensure you're not taking a potentially harmful megadose.

The current daily recommended amount of vitamin D for adults under the age of 70 is 600 IU, and 800 IU for older adults. Although doses of up to 4,000 IU per day are generally considered safe, doses of up to 10,000 IU/day have not been shown to cause toxicity. In fact, many cases of vitamin D toxicity have occurred as a result of dosing errors that resulted in significantly higher amounts being consumed. 2 Essentially, it is difficult to consume toxic levels of vitamin D.

Symptoms of Excessive Vitamin D

Some indicators that you may be getting too much vitamin D include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Dehydration
  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Blood pressure is high.
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Urine frequency
  • Muscle fatigue
  • Thirst
  • Tinnitus

Consult your doctor if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. Tell them what supplements, medications, and substances you're taking, as well as the dosages for each. If your doctor suspects that your symptoms are caused by an excess of vitamin D, he or she may order lab tests to check your blood serum levels.

Other side effects of vitamin D toxicity include kidney and bone problems. Your doctor may also look for symptoms of the following vitamin D-related problems.


Excessive calcium in the blood, known as hypercalcemia, can result from taking too much vitamin D. Hypercalcemia symptoms include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Headaches
  • Memory issues
  • Thirst
  • Tiredness

Hypercalcemia is defined as calcium levels in the blood serum that are two standard deviations above the mean. Calcium levels in the blood range from 8.8mg/dL to 10.8mg/dL.

Calcium serum levels ranging from 10.5 to 13.9 mg/dL are considered mild to moderate, while levels ranging from 14.0 to 16.0 mg/dL are considered a hypercalcemia crisis.

Hypercalcemia caused by an excess of vitamin D can be treated with steroids, but the source of the excess D vitamin must also be eliminated.

Kidney issues.

Excess vitamin D can also cause hypercalcemia, which can lead to kidney problems or even kidney damage. Because too much vitamin D increases calcium absorption, it can lead to the formation of kidney stones.

However, evidence suggests that more serious long-term kidney damage can occur. These calcium deposits in the kidneys can cause nephrocalcinosis, which can cause permanent kidney damage or even death.

According to research, people who consumed more than 3,600,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D3 were more likely to develop kidney damage. 5 These levels are orders of magnitude higher than what you'd get from a few minutes in the sun or the average multivitamin.

Can Vitamin D Cause Kidney Stones

Bone Issues

While getting enough vitamin D is important for bone health, getting too much can be harmful. According to some studies, having too much vitamin D can interfere with the actions of vitamin K2, a nutrient that helps keep calcium in the bones.

Megadoses of vitamin D have been linked to an increased risk of bone fractures, according to research. 6 Over a three-year period, participants in another study received 400 IU, 4,000 IU, or 10,000 IU of vitamin D. Bone density tests revealed no improvement over a 400 IU dose, and the highest dose group actually showed decreased density. 7

Depression and a Lack of Vitamin D

Low vitamin D levels are more of a problem for most people. Deficiency can have a variety of health consequences, including poor bone health, but it can also have an impact on brain development and functioning. Low vitamin D levels have been linked to mental health conditions such as seasonal affective disorder, depression,8, and schizophrenia.

However, increasing vitamin D levels does not always cure depression. A randomized controlled trial concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support the use of vitamin D supplementation as a treatment for depression. 

If you are experiencing symptoms of depression, whether seasonal or not, consult your doctor before attempting to self-medicate with a supplement such as vitamin D. Your doctor can evaluate your health and determine whether vitamin D would be beneficial or if another treatment would be more appropriate.

What Are the Causes of Vitamin D Toxicity?

Excessive vitamin D supplementation is almost always the cause of toxicity. Because your body regulates vitamin D production, sun exposure is unlikely to cause it (although it has been linked to tanning bed exposure). Foods do not typically contain high levels of vitamin D, so consuming an excessive amount is unlikely.

People may begin taking vitamin D supplements to correct a deficiency or to alleviate symptoms of seasonal affective disorder or depression. The issue is that they may overdo it or believe that taking more will produce more beneficial results.

The Security of vitamin D Supplements

When exposed to sunlight, your body produces vitamin D, but many people may not get enough due to a variety of factors. As a result, many people turn to vitamin D supplements. People frequently overdo it, which is unfortunate.

According to a 2017 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), there was an increase in the number of American adults taking daily vitamin D supplements containing 1,000 IU or more between 1999 and 2014. Of these, 18% took more than 1000 IU per day, and 3% took more than 4,000 IU per day, putting them at a higher risk of experiencing some of the negative effects associated with excess vitamin D.

In most cases, sun exposure and diet will provide you with all of the vitamin D you require without the need for supplementation. A daily 15-minute walk outside with your extremities exposed can increase vitamin D production. (However, remember to apply sunscreen after 15 minutes of exposure.)

Eating foods high in vitamin D naturally or fortified with the nutrient can help. You can increase your vitamin D levels by eating the following foods:

  • Egg whites
  • Milk, yogurt, or juice fortified
  • Fatty fish, such as tuna or salmon
  • Fish liver oil

If you decide to take a vitamin D supplement to correct a deficiency or because you are unable to get enough through sunlight and diet, always follow your doctor's instructions and do not exceed the recommended dose.

Vitamin D is important for both physical and mental health, but if you decide to take a supplement, proceed with caution. If you are considering taking vitamin D supplements, consult your doctor first.

According to research, high dose vitamin D supplementation may increase the risk of kidney stones and bone fractures. Excessive supplementation has also been linked to prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and increased mortality.

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