A man developed kidney failure after taking 12 times the recommended amount of vitamin D every day.
The unnamed 54-year-old from Canada had taken the bumper dose drops for two and a half years after being advised by a naturopath.
But his health deteriorated when he went on vacation for two weeks and sunbathed eight hours a day – sun exposure helps the body to produce vitamin D.
Medical tests showed that his creatinine levels rose in the blood, which is a sign that the kidneys are struggling to work.
Doctors subsequently discovered that a dangerous accumulation of vitamin D and calcium in his blood had affected the function of his kidneys.
A 54-year-old male from Canada developed kidney failure after taking 12 times the recommended dose of a vitamin D supplement
It took a year to make the patient healthy again – but he has left chronic kidney disease and may need dialysis later.
The patient, who had no history of bone loss or vitamin D deficiency, took a total of 8,000-12,000 IU per day.
The recommended amount for people in Canada is up to 1,000 IU – four times lower than the guidelines for people in Britain.
Doctors, led by Bourne Auguste, a nephrologist at the Toronto General Hospital, said they were afraid that other people would make the same mistake.
Mr. Auguste told Global News: “He thought vitamins are harmless.
“And his logic, which you understand when you look back, is that the more vitamin D I take, the stronger the bones will be.”
For unknown reasons, the patient said he went to a naturopath, a specialist who suggests alternative methods such as homeopathy to try to treat diseases.
She advised the man to take eight drops of a brand daily containing 500 IU per drop, according to the report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
This would have been 4,000 IU – the maximum that the NHS recommends a day in the UK before it can become harmful.
But the man unknowingly bought another vitamin D product that contained 1,000 IU per drop.
After returning home from a two-week trip to Southeast Asia, he went to see his doctor. However, it is unclear why he was present.
His creatinine content had risen from his baseline value of 100 μmol / L before the journey to 132 μmol / L.
HOW MANY VITAMIN D IS SAFE TO TAKE?
Some groups of the population run a greater risk of not getting enough vitamin D. Anyone over the age of five is advised to take a daily supplement that contains 10 micrograms (400 IU) of vitamin D, but most people get enough summer.
The amount of vitamin D in supplements is sometimes expressed in international units (IU), where 40 IU is equal to 1 microgram (1 µg) of vitamin D.
If you choose to take vitamin D supplements, 400 IU per day is sufficient for most people.
People taking supplements are advised not to take more than 4000 IU of vitamin D per day, as this can be harmful (this is equivalent to 100 micrograms or 0.1 milligrams).
This applies to adults, including pregnant and breast-feeding women and the elderly, and children aged 11 to 17 years.
Children from 1 to 10 years old cannot have more than 2000 IU per day. Babies younger than 12 months may not have more than 1000 IU per day.
Some people have medical conditions that may prevent them from taking so much vitamin D safely.
There is no risk that your body will make too much vitamin D from sun exposure, but do not forget to cover or protect your skin before you begin to become red or burn.
His doctor thought he was suffering from dehydration or heat stroke and told him to stop taking his high blood pressure and diuretic medication.
But after four weeks his creatinine level had risen to 376 μmol / L despite the fact that he had no apparent illness. He was then referred to a kidney specialist.
It was then that the man was questioned about his health background and told him to stop taking supplements and eating calcium-rich foods.
The patient received medication and advice on how to reduce kidney toxicity.
Almost a year after being diagnosed, his calcium and vitamin D levels are back to normal, but he has stage 3B chronic kidney disease.
The kidneys play an important role in making vitamin D useful for the body by converting the source into the active form of vitamin D that the body needs to help absorb calcium and phosphorus.
Vitamin D toxicity is rare, but its widespread availability in various freely available products can be risky for people who are unaware, the authors say.
There is no risk that your body will make too much vitamin D through sun exposure or food choices.
The doctors wrote: ‘Our experience tells us that patients and clinicians need to be better informed about the risks of the unimpeded use of vitamin D.
“Given new findings of the US Preventive Services Task Force, current Canadian guidelines regarding their use in low-risk individuals need to be revised.”
The authors said that a dose of more than 10,000 IU per day for several months is not recommended for anyone.
It is not known exactly how much time is needed in the sun to make enough vitamin D to meet body requirements.
WHAT IS CHRONIC kidney disease AND HOW CAN YOU FAT IT?
Chronic kidney disease (CKD), also known as chronic renal failure, describes the gradual loss of kidney function.
Our kidneys filter waste products and excess fluids from the blood before they are excreted via urine. They also help maintain blood pressure.
As CKD progresses, the kidneys do not work properly and dangerous amounts of waste build up in your body.
The risk of CKD increases as you get older. It is also more common among Asians and Blacks.
CKD usually causes no symptoms until it has reached an advanced stage. It can be detected early through blood and urine tests.
- Loss of appetite
- Fatigue and weakness
- Sleep problems
- Changes in how much you urinate
- Decreased mental sharpness
- Muscle vibrations and cramps
- Swelling of feet and ankles
- Persistent itching
- Chest pain when fluid accumulates around the inside of the heart
- Shortness of breath, when fluid accumulates in the lungs
- High blood pressure that is difficult to control
Those with the condition have a greater risk of stroke or heart attack. It can also cause kidney failure when patients require dialysis or a possible transplant.
However, lifestyle changes and medication can prevent the disease from getting worse if diagnosed at an early stage.
To reduce your risk:
- Follow the instructions for freely available medicines. Taking too many painkillers can lead to kidney damage
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Do not smoke. Cigarette smoking can cause kidney damage
Source: Mayo Clinic