Vitamin D3 gel capsules, raise vitamin D, stronger bones, study of vitamin D supplements, adequate vitamin D

Is it possible to get too much vitamin D? Nutrition advisors such as registered dietitians have worried about this for years because vitamin D, like vitamin A, is fat soluble. As a consequence, it could build up in body stores and eventually one could develop an overload.

It isn’t easy to get too much vitamin D through natural means, such as exposing skin to sunshine or eating foods rich in the vitamin. Not many foods have enough vitamin D to make them dangerous, and human physiology has ways to make sure even a lot of sun exposure won’t usually result in vitamin D toxicity.

But it is definitely possible to get too much vitamin D by taking supplements. This reader describes such a case:

Leg Pain from Too Much Vitamin D:

Q. My husband took vitamin D3 for over five years. He started having leg pain in his thigh and went to our family doctor. She prescribed prednisone for two weeks for a possible strained muscle.

His pain improved but returned after he had finished that round of medication. She then referred him to an orthopedic doctor who did an x-ray of his leg and said his pain was probably due to muscle strain. He also prescribed prednisone for two weeks, and again the pain returned after treatment.

Some time later I read that muscle and bone pain could be a side effect of vitamin D3. He discontinued the supplemental vitamin D3 and has been pain-free ever since. What a relief!

Consequences of Too Much Vitamin D:

A. Too much vitamin D can lead to excess calcium in the blood stream. Symptoms include muscle pain or weakness as well as loss of appetite, dehydration, digestive upset and fatigue.

Your husband is not the only reader who has had trouble with a vitamin D supplement. We heard from one person:

“I eat a very healthy and balanced diet. My yearly complete physical always makes me happy. Last year at my physical, right after winter, my doctor said my level of D was slightly off.

“He agreed that coming out of the winter months probably made it less than perfect, because of lack of sunshine. He suggested however that I take vitamin D, as he himself does.

“I followed his advice, though I take no other supplements. After about a month I started experiencing pain in my bones that was getting worse and worse. I exercise regularly. As the vitamin D was the only new thing in my life, I stopped taking it. The bone pain went away after a few days and has not returned. I recently had my physical (coming out of summer) and my vitamin D level was perfect!”

Some readers may appreciate our Guide to Vitamin D Deficiency, in which we also discuss dose and possible toxicity. It will help you determine how much is too much.

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  1. shirley knight
    st george, s. c.

    I found out in feb 2017 tha my vit d level was 19.. so dr put me on vit d 2000 . then
    I found out that I was having side effect from this.. so he changed me to vit d 1000
    and now I have terrible cramps in my thighs and the muscle in my calves feel
    like a tight rubber band that will not release. what do I do now. quit with all
    the vit d.. I feel like I cant walk around on my legs, they are weak feeling. please
    help me.

  2. Marinell

    My Doctor ran blood work and told me my vitamin D was to low. He prescribed me Vit D2 50,000 units. Now I am in so much pain it is horrible. I am not taking anymore. I took it as prescribed which was once a week and I can tell you to stay away from it.

  3. JD

    After stopping the Vitamin D3, how long does it take for muscle pain to stop completely?

    • JD

      When might I receive a reply to my question? I have been using Vitamin D 3 daily for about 9 months, 2000 IU.

      • Cindy
        New Brunswick

        Hi JD. From what I’ve read in this forum most people have found that the pain goes away within a couple days.

  4. Frank
    Brooklyn NY

    I began taking 2,000 units of D3 a number of years ago and accidentally switched to 1,000 with little difference in blood tests. Now after about 5 years, my thighs often feel weak. I had complete muscle atrophy post-stroke 7 years ago. The weakness occurs even though I can walk 2 miles easily and exercise my legs at the Y for 1/2 hour 2-3 times a week and do 1/2 hour of water aerobics 1-2 times each week. I was evaluating whether or not it is a side effect of a low dose (10 mg) statin — simvastatin (the doctor says no) — a very low dose blood pressure med — 2.5 mg. lisinopril (the pharacist says no). The only other possible culprit is Vitamin D, which Jane Brody in the NY Times said is over-prescribed (March 12, 2017: )

    • Paula

      I can’t take anything for cholesterol, not even red yeast rice, due to horrible leg pain. We had a friend end up in hosp in a wheelchair until they stopped statin. Statin does cause leg pain in some people. You may be one of them. It is not uncommon.

  5. Bill
    Nashville, TN, USA

    I was told by my doc to immediately stop all foods with vit D and calcium because I accidentally took an over-dose of D3 thinking it was my antibiotics! They were in the same bottle from the same pharmacy, and I had just gotten home from back surgery and was in extreme pain. My fault, stupid me. My blood-work came back today as 101 which is twice as much as the high end she had wanted me to obtain with the supplements. I also have anemia since I have a digestive disorder. I was doing great until I OD’d. Now I have evey symptom imaginable due to the OD. She just prescribed steriods and said to cut all vit D and calcium out of my diet. I am curious if anyone knows what foods are safe to eat while you are detoxifying from a vit D overdose. Thank you in andvance.

  6. April R

    I am thankful that this info is here because at least eliminating my vitamin D for a short period of time is something to try. Everyone’s body is different anyway so I don’t care how much these people are taking, but at least it gives an idea of where to start looking for the culprit of the pain. My symptoms are exactly as most people are describing.

  7. Drake

    I began using vitamin d3 about a year ago. I’m a very healthy person. I train regularly and take very good care of my body. I began using vitamin d3 at 5000iu per day. I felt unstoppable. But then, I started to experience achy muscles and bones. My lifts were going down and I couldnt figure out why. The REAL RED FLAG is when I began feeling disoriented and confused a lot. Forgetfulness and just a feeling of being out of it. I began doing research on side effects of D3 and it all made sense. I’m a little under a week removed from the vitamin d3 and I already feel better. The symptoms aren’t gone but theyre getting better. Be careful with D3.

  8. Donna

    I have been on 3800IU daily D3 for about 9 months- and complaining the whole time of joint and bone pain. I just got my blood tested for D3 and its mildly elevated. I’m hoping that is the cause of my pain – I’m off it starting tomorrow!

  9. Mary

    I have been on Vit D for 7 weeks 50000iu, and now my leg and arm hurts a lot and am getting headaches. Should this be going on?

  10. Christine

    I’ve been taking 3 pills on KAL D-3 5,000 iu for several years. Late Fall 2015 after stents, a couple coils and plugs had to be placed in my pelvic veins (May Thurner Syndrome & pelvic congestion) been struggling with leg cramping. Thought I had sciatica, then maybe piriformis syndrome(?) Thought the surgery caused my right leg cramping. They said no and did ultrasounds to verify that.

    So I’m here tonight googling and trying to find answers. I come across this and was wondering how long it would take to vacate and make changes that I would notice no more leg cramping. I’m 5’5 137 lbs. try to exercise often and eat right. Hilicrysum essential oil mixed with coconut oil helps take the spasmimg away. So I guess I’ll quit taking the D3. A natural doctor had me taking the 15,000 iu a day. I quit going to him, but continued the regime. ?

  11. Arlene

    I too was put on D3 2000 iu aprox 9 mos ago. I have as of late started waking up to several leg cramps and even experience cramps in the feet and legs during the day. I have never had much problem with them till now. I am going to try going off the D3 and see if the cramping stops … Sigh . My legs always feel so heavy and tired any more too. I feel like I am loosing much of of my limb usage any more as well ..

  12. Tammy

    I have been taking vit D3, after being tested multiple times, and found to be low. I started with 1,000 iu for a few months and then upped it to 2,000 iu, per day. I’ve been at this larger level for approx. 5mos.

    However, I am now experiencing severe pain in my pelvic area and legs (feels like it’s in my bones), can hardly walk some days, and lately have had restless legs and now severe charlie horses in my calves, waking me at night, then the the residual (lactic acid-type) pain lasts for days. I had previously come off an immune suppressing drug but now suspect it’s my vitamin D levels which are finally up, but I have chosen to go off the D3 to see if it’s the culprit.

  13. Marilyn
    Naperville, IL

    My doctor prescribed 2000IU’s of vitamin D3 5 times a week, which I have been taking for 5 years. All of a sudden last March, 2015 I started experiencing muscle pain down the backs of my legs and bone pain in the inner thigh/pelvic area and pain across my lower back. Since I had been walking on the treadmill, I thought that had something to do with it. The doctor did x-rays, prescribed a muscle relaxer and exercises, nothing helped. After reading your article and feed backs, I went off the D3 completely and have been off it for almost 2 weeks now. The muscle pain has gone away and most of the bone pain, also I am not experiencing the fatigue that I was and seem to be sleeping better. How long does it take for the vitamin D3 to be completely out of your system, I can’t seem to find an answer on this.

  14. Kimberly
    Greensboro NC

    My sister and brother-in-law are overweight. Their doctor has prescribed them to take 10,000 units/day. Any feedback appreciated!

  15. Eliezer

    “It isn’t easy to get too much vitamin D through natural means, such as exposing skin to sunshine or eating foods rich in the vitamin”

    To the best of my knowledge it is absolutely impossible to overdose by sunexposure. Your body automatically shuts down Vitamin D production from sunlight once it has produced 15,000 – 20,000 International Units. If you have a reference to a published medical journal article to the contrary about this please post the reference. As far as foods are concerned, on a theoretical basis it could happen. In real life while not impossible it is almost impossible.

    The lowest daily dosage to cause any problem is around 30,000 International Units taken for many months. Dr. Reinhold Vieth of Toronto, a well known researcher of Vitamin D, challenged anyone to come up with any evidence that taking 10,000 International Units or less could result in toxicity. This challenge was issued about 15 years ago and, to the best of my knowledge, no evidence showing toxicity at 10000 IU’s or less has ever been presented. This does not mean that people should take 10,000 Units. In general 2000 – 3000 Units per day is generally enough to bring Vitamin D levels to 30 or more which is a satisfactory level.

    • The People's Pharmacy

      We were utilizing understatement. So far as we know, it is not possible to overdose on vitamin D through skin exposed to sunlight.

  16. Terry

    My doc had me take a mega dose of D3 (I think 50,000 units) as a “jumpstart.” I have never been so constipated in my life. I thought I was going to rupture the veins in my head.

  17. Kathi

    I, too had a low Vitamin D level and was prescribed a prescription level until it evened out. Then I began using OTC Vitamin D. I also had been treated for a case of GERD. So, when I developed a sour taste in my mouth, I suspected the GERD. I talked with my GE, and he agreed. Later, I read that Vitamin D can cause a metallic taste in the mouth. I stopped taking it and the terrible taste went away within a couple of days.

  18. Sara
    Seattle, WA

    Yes, how much is too much?

    • The People's Pharmacy

      Supplements of more than 10,000 IU per day for a few months will get some folks into trouble.

  19. Amy

    One is to take vitamin K2 along with vitamin D so that calcium gets into the hard tissues and not the soft tissues, where it doesn’t belong.

  20. MJWilkie

    Ditto what Carol said above. How much were they taking?

  21. Dee

    Any experience with tinnitus at high levels of Vit D?

  22. Bruce

    I am really frustrated that neither person who wrote in thought to mention how much vitamin D3 they were taking. Come on people, mention the dosage when you write in! For me, I take 2,000 mg daily and have done for a couple of years without problems. My number value is 53 on a scale that runs from 30 to 100. I am going to continue to take it.

  23. Sonja
    Melbourne, Florida

    I too have been taking Vitamin D3 (2000 IU once a day) for quite a while now, and have starting experiencing an inexplicable periodic cramping pain in my right leg. I was attributing it to the fact that I had back surgery in the past and have some neuropathy in that leg. I get plenty of exercise and eat a healthy diet and I am not overweight. I have also been experiencing gastric problems. Since reading this article I have decided to quit taking the vitamin and see it these symptoms disappear.

    • Ret

      I agree. Vitamin D has saved my life. It REALLY has! I used to live in the midwest and the lack of sun caused depression and body aches (and possibly a link to my child being born with autism).

      I now live in a sunny area (NM) so I get a bit of D naturally, but some medications prescribed for GERD/Acid Reflux such as Nexium or Protonix can dimish/lower your D levels (I take Protonix) and SPF, which I also use on my face daily, can block my D intake from natural sunlight. So– I do take 2,000 IU’s a day but if I take more (tried to up it a few times to avoid depression) but my feet and hands get very achy when I do so.

      I briefly stopped it altogether, to ease muscle/bone aches, but went right back to my normal dose of 2,000 a week later… and I will never stop taking D as I fear depression and far worse aches/fatigue that I get when my D is too low. I think the key here is to keep your D level in the very “normal range” (not too high nor too low).

  24. Shant

    It comes as a surprise to me that Peoples Pharmacy will publish anecdotal reports about adverse effects of vitamin d supplementation without ascertaining dosage information. Such reports slip into the realm of conjecture.

  25. Carol

    It would be interesting to know how much Vitamin D3 these people were taking to experience the symptoms.

  26. Karen

    So glad to read about vitamin D…am taking supplement each day, but also have much leg pain…didn’t know it might be from that! Thanks!

  27. Margaret

    Could you add a guideline about how much may be “too much?”

    Also, could it cause muscle pain, rather than bone pain?

    • The People's Pharmacy

      Up to 4,000 IU daily is safe for most people. More than 10,000 IU daily will be too much for some people. 40,000 IU daily is too much for almost everyone. And muscle pain is probably a more common symptom than bone pain.

    • Ret

      Living in Vermont is what forced me to begin taking Vitamin D, as the lack of sunshine there nearly killed me (depression), especially in the winter months. I’m so glad I began taking D (natural antidepressant for me)!! The key is to make sure it’s not too high (nor too low)

  28. Howard

    Yes, taking large amounts of vitamin D without also taking vitamin K2 can lead to problems. As much as people hear about the benefits of vitamin D, I wish they were also made aware of the important co-factors like vitamin K2 that are needed for proper absorption of vitamin D. Most doctors surely don’t know about the co-factors, so we have to educate ourselves to stay out of trouble.

  29. Dallee

    Taking a boron supplement helps … two triple boron pills work for me, but I do a trial without them from time to time because I do not always need them.

  30. Kay
    West Salem WI

    I did several trials with Vitamin D3 and each time I developed early morning insomnia. I would wake up at 3:30 AM feeling totally awake. I had no difficulty falling asleep when I first went to bed. When I stopped taking it, my sleep cycle returned to normal.

    • Mary

      I am experiencing same issue. I only take 2000 D3 each day for almost 90 days now because I was low. Follow up blood test is soon. I even tried to take at 7am instead of mid afternoon or evening, but I still woke up at 3:30 am wide awake??? I’m leaning toward its the vitamin D causing this, but am going to try not taking for a a week then start again to see what happen to my sleep pattern.

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