Q. My vitamin D level was low so my doctor prescribed vitamin D2 in a dose of 50,000 IU once a week. Within a day I was experiencing terrible nausea and heartburn.

It took a couple of weeks for me to figure out the pill was causing my reflux. I never suffered from it before. Is there a good way to get enough vitamin D without causing such misery?

A. Although doctors frequently prescribe a once-weekly dose of 50,000 IU of vitamin D2, some readers report side effects from this formulation. Don’t ignore low levels of this nutrient, though, because deficiency is associated with arthritis, asthma, cancer, infections, depression, diabetes and dementia.

We are sending you our Guide to Vitamin D Deficiency with details about dosing, interpreting lab results and a discussion of how much is too much. Sharing this information with your doctor should help the two of you reach a decision about the best way for you to replenish this essential vitamin.

You may find that a lower dose taken more frequently is less likely to cause you distress. During the summer months, a quarter-hour outside in the sun several times a week might be adequate, but your doctor will need to follow your progress by testing your serum level.

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  1. CGB

    I had the same experience taking 2,000 units. It took a few weeks to figure out why I was getting continual heart burn. I went off the vitamin D supplement and so did the heat in my stomach.

  2. KVS

    I take Vit D3 2,000 iu once a day and have no side effects.

  3. Dave

    Aside from the reflux, why not vitamin D-3? Isn’t that better than D-2?

  4. SFE

    D2??? How dare a doctor do that??? D3!!!

  5. Sherri Casey

    My doctor put me on 10,000 iu once a week and I had terrible gastro problems. I took myself off. At my doctor’s recommendation I started taking smaller amounts daily and built up to taking 2000 iu per day. This does not cause the problems that the large dosage was causing and my Vitamin D levels have finally improved. Being outdoors did not help my levels. I garden and walk miles outdoors and my levels stayed the same until I went on the supplements.

  6. Carla

    I am surprised to see D2 as the recommended supplement. For some reason, I thought D3 was preferred. Can you address this?

  7. Susan M

    I have been taking 50,000 units by prescription for 7 years and have never had any side effects. In the summer I take it every other week. In the winter when there is no sun exposure I take it once a week. My blood level is tested every three months. I was getting sick all the time when my level was found to be 18. I am so glad my doctor decided to test for low vitamin D.

  8. Ann

    Why not just take 2000 iu daily or twice a day?
    People’s Pharmacy response: That is an approach worth discussing with the doctor. Many people do this.

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