Q. I want to warn others about taking too much calcium and vitamin D. Apparently I took more than my limit and ended up with soft tissue calcifications.

My doctors doubted that this caused my calamity, but I am certain that it contributed. The calcium in my left arm caused a lot of pain. My mammogram also showed calcification. Calcium and vitamin D are very popular these days, but you can overdo.

A. Thanks for the words of caution. Women have been urged to increase their calcium intake to maintain strong bones, but a study from New Zealand also sounded a warning (British Medical Journal, Feb. 2, 2008).
Postmenopausal women were studied for five years. In addition to calcium in their food (roughly 850 mg daily), they took either 1000 mg calcium or placebo. The women taking extra calcium were more likely to suffer a heart attack during that time. Another study did not confirm this risk, but there is some concern that excess calcium and vitamin D might contribute to calcification.

Join Over 55,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

Each week we send two free email newsletters with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies and a preview of our award-winning radio show. Join our mailing list and get the information you need to make confident choices about your health.

  1. Kathy
    Reply

    My Dr. gave me 50,000 mgs of vitamin d-2. One gel cap once a week for 4 months. I weigh 110lbs and wonder if that’s too much. Am so scared of any new meds. I know I was given them years ago by another Dr. but not sure if it was that much. Is this dangerous???
    People’s Pharmacy response: This is a typical prescription, but one recent study has made us wonder whether it is smart to take so much D2 at one time. Here’s the link: http://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2014/02/20/vitamin-d2-supplements-increase-muscle-damage-from-exercise/

  2. AL
    Reply

    Yes, I agree with the information posted on this website.
    My brief personal information. I was molecular biology major and minored in nutrition years ago. I am a Chinese about 5 feet in height and weigh about 97 pounds. I am able to monitor myself on vitamin supplement intake due to the knowledge I have. However, I still have problem taking some vitamin supplements which I could like to share my condition with all of you.
    Several months ago in last year Dec 2012, because the RDA suggests people should take 1000mg/day of calcium to prevent osteoporosis; therefore, I tried to increase my daily Calcium intake by taking Calcium supplement for 500mg/day. After several days, my heart beat became so abnormal that I had severe heart contraction. On that day/night, I also had severe thirst and frequent urination. Due to no medical insurance, I just sat on bed rather than calling 911. After about several hours, my heart beat was getting better and it took me 2 1/2 months to get my heart beat back to normal by stopping the Calcium supplement.
    However, I was stupid enough to try again to increase my calcium intake about two months ago (still because the RDA says that 1000mg of Calcium is good to prevent osteoporosis). The same thing happened, but less severe. My heart rhythm is still not normal after stopping calcium supplement (for 52 days) and foods that contain high calcium for a month.
    Later I also found out that my cardiac arrhythmia is also caused by “overdosing” on Vitamin D. I was told by my doctor in a free clinic several months ago to increase my vitamin D intake from 400Iu to 1000Iu. So I had slowly increased my vitamin D intake to about 600IU. However, it turned out to be too much for me even I avoid the sun all the time. But may be because I had low birth weigh and small bone frame and short in height. So the RDA does not apply to me.
    Anyway, as of today 7/14/2013, my heart beat is still abnormal. The free clinic does not have the equipment to check my heart problem. I don’t know what to do.
    I also have severe hair loss for about two months, which I have suspected that it is due to the over dosage of Vitamin D that had accumulated/stored in my liver. And therefore, my liver is not function properly which has resulted in severe hair loss. I have stopped my vitamin D supplement for 13 days. I hope things will be better. I really don’t suggest people who just listen to one side opinion claiming the “miracle” benefit of vitamin supplements.
    It is true that vitamin supplements is beneficial to health. However, overdosing also is detrimental to health.

  3. R Ryan
    Reply

    I see this was a while ago but I have to comment. My mother had symptoms just like this. It turned out to be a parathyroid tumor. They are usually benign but cause you to feel awful as you are describing. If your parathyroid hasn’t been checked I would ask for it as a simple surgery to remove it has made al of my mothers symptoms better immediately her calcium levels are totally normal now.

  4. mani
    Reply

    I am 76 years old, very healthy, was playing 9 hole golf everyday, no BP, Cholesterol, Diabetes, Not obese, slim and tall. Do not take any medicines or supplements.
    Recently I was down after a round of golf, and after a lot of investigation, my calcium level was observed to be over 17(recommended 8-10.5). I was hospitalized all tests proved nothing including possible tumor in body.
    I was asked to drink a lot of water to wash out excess calcium with the risk of potassium and other minerals also can be washed out. It is now 12.5 not coming down, feel drained. Note-I have not taken any calcium supplement and am a vegetarian.
    What is the reason for this? Any remedy? Have you come across similar cases?
    please advise, I am missing my golf.

  5. Laila
    Reply

    I m taking centrum, caltrate which contains calcuim and vitamin D, plus omega 3 fish oil one tablet and 2 from caltrate, please pharmacy can you tell me if I m safe taking all this beside I m 36 years old, 5’7′ tall and 140 lbs, I need your advice?

  6. meg
    Reply

    After 2 and a half months of Synthroid (for nodules on my thyroid and hypothyroidism.. and hair loss) I felt pain in my bottom jaw and teeth >>tooth aches. Also my wrist where many years ago I fractured 3 bones and my base of my spine and in my hip.
    Telling my doctor was a chore as he thought it was my ‘imagination’. I insisted I go to natural thyroid (Armour) and I do feel better. The only ache is in my lower spine when I first get up or sit or stand too long. My blood work came back low Vitamin D and the Dr. wants me to take 4000 vitamin D a day plus my calcium. I have wonderful calcium osseoapattie plus containing magnesium 250; micrystalline hydroxapatite 500 mg. and tricalcium phosphate 312.
    I am blindly guessing so I took 6 of the calcium tablets and 3 of the vitamin d3. I had trouble ten years ago with tinnitus and actual hearing loss in one ear. Still have it. Doctors do not like to hear you mention you looked it up and want this or that . . . any help on the dosage for a 70 year old woman who is in otherwise good health. Lisinopril 20 mg. twice a day. Thanks so much. Meg
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: YOU DO WANT TO GET 4,000 IU OF VITAMIN D AS YOUR DOCTOR RECOMMENDED FOR AT LEAST SEVERAL WEEKS TO SEE HOW WELL IT DOES FOR YOU. YOUR OSSEOAPATITE PILLS CONTAIN 500 IU PER PILL, SO 6 OF THEM PROVIDE 3,000 IU OF D. THAT WOULD ALSO OFFER 1,800 MG APPROXIMATELY OF CALCIUM, WHICH IS MORE THAN ENOUGH. YOU SHOULD PROBABLY BE AIMING FOR 800 TO 1,000 MG OF ELEMENTAL CALCIUM.
    HERE IS AN INTERESTING PERSPECTIVE FROM TWO LEADING NUTRITION SCIENTISTS:
    http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/vitamin-d-fracture-prevention/

  7. c.n
    Reply

    Dr. told me my vit. d was very low, he put me on vit. d – 50,000 ic once a week. I had a dexa scan done showed thinning of my bones. Dr. told me to take 1,000 mg of calcium a day. I bought calcium 500 mg with vit. d. I thought I could take the calcium everyday except for the day I take the 50,000 ic. Would this cause an overdose of vit.d?

  8. Debora D.P
    Reply

    I had a bone density exam few months ago which showed that I have osteopenia.
    My doctor prescribe me 600-400 Calcium/D twice daily.
    On the third day I start to feel like I just left a room with the music at maximum volume. Not dizzy, but with that boom boom on my ears. The noise of my children playing, the TV, people talking all make me uncomfortable.
    Can someone tell me what’s going on?
    Thanks
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: WE HAVE NOT HEARD OF THIS AS A REACTION TO A CALCIUM/VITAMIN D SUPPLEMENT BEFORE. YOU MIGHT CHECK WITH THE DOCTOR TO SEE IF SOME TYPE OF EAR PROBLEM HAS CROPPED UP COINCIDENTALLY.

  9. Jean
    Reply

    I had ringing in my ears. Ear, nose, throat specialist said it can come from too much aspirin. The hollow channels of the inner ear are filled with liquid, and contain a sensory epithelium that is studded with hair cells. The microscopic “hairs” of these cells are structural protein filaments that project out into the fluid. Too much aspirin can damage these “hairs” and once damaged cannot be repaired.

  10. maggie
    Reply

    My doctor prescribed 50,000 IU Vitamin D for me since my D level is 8. I received 4 pills for the first month, I didn’t read the instruction and I took the pill daily instead of one pill a week…..Now I am really concerned that I have caused some damage to my organs. I have scheduled to see my doctor tomorrow but should I go to the ER today??? One of my legs has mild muscle pain and I read it is one of the Vit D overdose symptoms….

  11. CC
    Reply

    I have been taking 50,000 IUs of vitamin D-3 as prescribed by physician for 4 weeks.
    I take multivitamin mineral supplements as well and take 1000 mgs of fish oil daily.
    In the last several weeks I have developed ringing in my ears. Could ringing in the ears be a possible side effect of too much vitamin D-3? I walk outdoors for an hour every day but live in the northeast.
    I did have very low vitamin D levels so the doctors prescribed the vitamin D capsules.

  12. meltem
    Reply

    My vitamin d level is 30. My doctor suggested I take 1000 ıu daily. Now I’m taking cod liver oil and a d3 (1000 IU) supplement. Is it too much?
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: 1000 IU DAILY IS NOT TOO MUCH VITAMIN D3. UP TO 3000 OR 4000 IU DAILY IS OK. CHECK THE COD LIVER OIL TO SEE HOW MUCH VITAMIN D IT CONTAINS. SOME CONTAIN VERY LITTLE VITAMIN D.

  13. MHK
    Reply

    Just reread the posting by JAFS from Aug. 19, ’08. Is the D 25 Hydroxy test, with a “normal” range of 50-60 the only D test given? I was given a D test and told 30-60 is normal…and I have a 29 reading. JAFS says 3,000 IU is a maintenance level and 4,000 increases. Is that per week?? Per day??

  14. MHK
    Reply

    Doc prescribed 50,000 mgs. of Vit. D for 3 mos. Just took the first pill and then called pharmacist to ask if I have D2 or D3. He told me that D2 is the only one that comes in 50,000 units and D3 is only sold over the counter (in much smaller increments). Is this true????

  15. Anna
    Reply

    I think too many people are advised to take too much calcium, but not advised to make sure they get or make enough of the other substances that work together for strong, healthy bones. Calcium alone doesn’t do it. Over-supplementation without the other important factors leads to problems, without benefiting the bones.
    Also needed are ample magnesium intake (most people don’t get enough), as well as Vit D (either through enough sun exposure or supplementation, as diet contributes little Vit D – humans evolved to get their vit D from sun exposure, which is limited with most modern human lifestyles). The Vitamin D Council is a great source in info on the latest Vit D research.
    Weight-bearing exercise is important for healthy, strong bones, too. Taking supplements doesn’t do much when paired with a sedentary lifestyle. Strength-training is always a good idea for everyone (no matter which gender or body condition), as strong muscles have a huge benefit on circulation, posture, glucose control, balance, and overall health.

  16. Sheila H
    Reply

    Concerning calcium and vitamin D3: A famous neurosurgeon and health advocate in Springield, MO suggests cutting back on calcium and taking more D3. What I have read seems to present the fact that more vitamin D3 “scrubs” out the excess calcium and puts it where it needs to be, in the bones. So, This neurosurgeon suggests that if someone takes the newer HIGHER doses over 10,000 to cut back almost to NO added calcium and let the Vitamin D3 put the calcium (from food) where it belongs.
    What do others say? There is rising info out there stating to the same leaning of taking up to and /but no more than 50,000 and NO added calcium supplements.

  17. robin
    Reply

    If you had the Vitamin D,25-Hydroxy test, which is the test that you should have been given, then your ideal D level should range between 50-60. You should have been prescribed D-3 not D-2. You are correct the D-3 is far superior. 3,000 I.U. is a maintenance dose. 4,000 I.U. will increase your D levels. New studies have determined that 10,000 I.U. and under are safe levels to take. Your D level is dangerously low.

  18. JAFS
    Reply

    My D level is 4, which is low. My ARNP prescribed 50,000 I.U. of D2, daily.That seems like too much to me, but she says it is safe. What do others think? I thought that D3 was the more effective D, anyway?Any thoughts?

  19. Mary Ann
    Reply

    After being admitted to the hospital (10 days) with pneumonia, further tests showed I had hypercalcemia (a potentially fatal disease). The high doses were prescribed by my rhumatologist. My pulmonologist pulled me way back … 1 Centrum and 1 citracal only. Vitamin D is more important for bone strength.

  20. Charlotte J
    Reply

    My doctor notified me recently that my Vitamin D “reading” is 7 normal being 30-100. She has put me on Drisdol but I am reluctant to add another Rx to the following: Micardis, HCTZ, Actos, Metformin (for Type II diabetes), Lovastatin, Actonel and .81 aspirin.
    Would cod liver oil capsules help this condition? My mother gave each of us a teaspoon of the oil when we were children and I stayed pretty healthy until 62. At 71 I hate to take so much medication!
    Thanks for all your wonderful advice.
    PEOPLE’S PHARMACY RESPONSE: COD LIVER OIL IS RICH IN VITAMIN D, BUT IT CONTAINS A LOT OF VITAMIN A AS WELL. IN SCANDINAVIA, WOMEN WHO RELY ON COD LIVER OIL FOR VITAMIN D END UP NOT HELPING THEIR BONES BECAUSE OF THE EXCESS VITAMIN A. IT DOESN’T LOOK AS THOUGH DRISDOL SHOULD INTERACT WITH YOUR OTHER MEDICINES.

What Do You Think?

Share your thoughts with others, but be mindful of protecting your own and others' privacy. Not all comments will be posted. Advice from web visitors is not a substitute for medical attention. Do not stop any medicine without checking with the prescriber. In posting a comment, you agree to our commenting policy and website terms and conditions.