Q. My father was told he had low levels of vitamin D and that he should take a supplement. He read about vitamin D helping lots of problems, including diabetes, arthritis and the muscle pain from statin cholesterol-lowering drugs. He began taking mega-doses of vitamin D and ended up almost in a coma with severe muscle damage. His calcium level when they evaluated him in the ER was 17.5 (normal is 8.6 to 10).
The doctors ruled out other reasons for elevated calcium and concluded he had vitamin D toxicity. It took five days of treatment in the hospital before he could walk well enough to go home. He is now almost back to normal.
A. Your father’s story really demonstrates the “Goldilocks” nature of this vitamin. Both too little and too much can be dangerous. The trick is to get the dose just right.
We recently discussed vitamin D with two of the country’s leading experts. They debated appropriate dosing, toxicity and the pros and cons of this vitamin. We are sending you a CD of our hour-long interview plus a copy of our 8-page Guide to Vitamin D Deficiency. In it, we discuss the many problems, such as joint pain, muscle strength, susceptibility to respiratory tract infections, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, depression and asthma. We also describe the test to determine if vitamin D levels are too low, too high, or just right, as well appropriate supplementation.