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. Terri T.

    I don’t see anyone talking about the fact that if you take vitamin D3, you need to take vitamin K2 to mobilize the calcium so you do not have problems. Why has this not been discussed?

  2. Susan D.

    I have read that it is important to get enough true vitamin A (not just beta carote) and also vitamin K2 to balance and help utilize the vitamin D and calcium. This was the case when people got their vitamin D from cod liver oil which also had vitamin A naturally.

  3. Jean

    I take D3-5000 IU plus calcium on the adice of my doctor because my last bone scan showed osteopoenia in my hips. I’ve been experiencing pain in my shoulders, knees and calves recently. Thought it was due to exercise. Will speak to my Dr. Very concerned.

  4. Crystal

    I had joint pain for years, and pain in my calves. I developed difficulty making a fist or straightening my fingers after, the pain was excruciating, I couldn’t lean my elbows on a sofa cushion to read without extreme pain and developed burning feet to the point it was difficult to walk and/or stand. I was sent to doctor after doctor, including a neurologist who couldn’t find anything and said I had Fibromyalgia… but while I was in his office he sent me down the hall to see a rheumatologist who then sent me “downstairs” for a quick blood test. I had virtually no D and I live in Florida and am outside regularly! She said that lots of women with auto immune disorders such as vulvadynia or fibromyalgia cannot produce Vitamin D. She prescribed 58,000 units per week for 4 weeks. After the second week, most of the pain in my hands and feet was gone, at the end of the 4 week period ALL of the pain was gone in my feet and hands and my calves no longer burned. 10 years later and I am taking 6,000 units daily. I stopped for a couple of weeks since I felt so good and the pain returned… so back on it I went. I have my blood tested every 6 months and my D is in the normal range. I see no reason to quit since I am almost pain free at 71. I DO have Fibromylagia and Vulvadynia so being almost pain free is a blessing!

  5. Selma

    In November 2017, my blood work for Vitamin D was 35.10 and my endocrinologist said it was a bit on the low side. She wanted me to increase my dosage of Vitamin D3 from 1,000 to 2,000. My internist said he didn’t think I had to increase it, so I didn’t. Well, I had blood work done this past November 2018, and my Vitamin D was 31.80. My endocrinologist was pushing for me to take 2,000 and I finally decided to do it. My internist still was not concerned. He said that I was on the low side but still within the acceptable range. Recently, I noticed that I began to have problems making a fist with my left hand, and my middle finger felt, at times, as if I had ‘trigger finger.’ I was contemplating having a cortisone shot but haven’t gone for it yet. After reading your article and all the comments, I am going to back to taking 1000 of Vitamin D3. The only other pill I take is Synthroid for Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. My internist thinks I am in very good health, with excellent blood work reports, for a woman who will turn 90 next November. Am I wrong to go back to 1000, or should I just take the 2,000, but every other day?

    • Terry Graedon

      It sounds like you are doing well, especially since you check in with you doctors regularly.

  6. Jackie

    My Dr. prescribed 50,000 units of Vit D daily because my lab work showed low Vit D. I have developed pain in my right arm and shoulder so severe that I can’t put a long sleeved top or my coat on, without help. Also, I have severe restless legs every night, plus terrible insomnia, which has caused me to have panic attacks. I am going to stop the Vit D to see if that is causing all my problems.

  7. thomp

    After my yearly wellness checkup in May, the doctor said my iron was low to quit donating blood for a while and maybe think about a multivitamin. I am over 55 so I thought it wouldn’t hurt. I work outside a lot and on my feet. About the time hurricane Harvey blew through my left plantar fasciitis was bothering me to the point I went to find arch supports. A few months later my left shoulder was getting weak and had me thinking rotator cuff problems. Then the tendon in my right foot was sore. I decided to quit taking the multivitamin and everything went back to normal in a few months.

  8. Kass
    new jersey

    I have started taking D3 for the past week. I have increased pain in my legs and knees and my feet have swelled up. the fatigue is awful. Today I stopped taking it and hopefully in a few days I will have less pain. Who would think a vitamin would do this :(

  9. Tammy
    Green Mtn

    I am taking 2 Rebuild Plus it has 333 IU each a day and a 50000 IU D3 one a week .I am having lots of joint and muscle pain .Am I taking too much?

    • lisa

      Yes you are. Are you taking 50,000 IU because your Dr. prescribed it? If so you should hold off on any other supplementation till you are done with your treatment. Also it should be the precursor form D2 since that is metabolized via the liver and then by kidneys where it is converted to D3 and better absorbed. I would schedule an appointment with your Dr. to check your Vitamin D level to see if you are in the toxic range.

  10. Frank

    I heard the body aches are due to the bones remineralizing after being deficient for so long, and it’s actually good thing. The adverse symptoms are only temporary.

  11. Eliza
    South Australia (SA)

    I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s a decade ago; my then doc prescribed 100,000iU of vit D (in oil) per week after test results. (47nmol/L when the desirable range os 60-160).
    Soon after taking the first dose, my calves cramped up badly during a regular beach walk and stayed painful. Neither the doc nor the compounding pharmacy could explain it at the time.

  12. TooWeak

    I’ve been taking Vitamin D3 for a few years — sparingly, maybe 500 or 1,000 in a week or two. I was diagnosed with autoimmune diabetes, and read that many people with diabetes also have low Vitamin D, and that Vitamin D3 can improve the immune system. So, I got tested by my Dr. — it was like 25 or 26. (30-100 normal range). So, I upped the dose to a 5,000 pill once or twice a week.

    After a while, I didn’t know if I was helping or hurting. So, I ordered my own follow-up test, and it came back at 32. Okay, in the normal range, but better. My favorite diabetes doctor recommended people get up to about 50 or so. I’ve been taking it lately maybe twice a week for a while, and just recently began having episodes of extreme weakness, and pain in my legs. It starts in my knees, and radiates down my calves and up my hamstrings and it aches for hours. I feel weak and dizzy, and all this with very little activity — I mean, I walk some and bike a little, but at 50, I am not in terrible shape.

    So, I keep a pretty good food / med log. And I couldn’t tell what was causing this — pantoparazole, low-carb food, tums, alka seltzer, claratin, zyrtec, and vitamin D3. But I switched brands of Vitamin D, too — there was a sale. What could go wrong? Well, looking at my food/med log, I see that the weakness may correspond with the Vitamin D3 capsule. I got my levels tested again, and I’m up to 45.

    Normally, I’d celebrate being in a measurably “normal” range — but I feel horrible. Like I’m going to pass out, and so weak, and this radiating ache from just walking a block, it lasts for like an hour or two. I wonder if I’ve got MS or some other muscle & nerve problem! But, the log shows a loose correlation with the day or next day after taking the D3. I’m cutting it out completely after what happened to me this morning. I could barely drive home.

    Scary stuff. Glad to find this article and forum. The other posts I’m reading are mostly that people have weakness & pain from too little Vitamin D3. Perhaps my dose of 5,000 IU is too high, though I don’t take it but about every 4 days. My doctor said to take 800 IU a day, so, it’s a pretty close match. Very confusing — maybe it’s the brand. I don’t know. Just kind of scared to go out anymore.

  13. Judd

    Let me add this is after 2 mri’s, 2 X-rays, Accupuncture, accupressure, massage, 4 surgeons with different opinions. I feel in my gut the vitamins my original doc put me in have created this pain I can barely stand. I don’t blame him it’s a practice, but we don’t need vitamins if you eat real healthy foods and see the sun a little…

  14. Judd

    So grateful to learn of the vitamin overdose… I’m so guilty and I’m so miserable I am embarrassed I didn’t realize I did not need any extra vitamins… I almost had a hip replacement…no more vit d for me ever!

  15. Missie

    I was recently put on 50000 IU of vitamin D2 once a week. Since then I have noticed I have not slept right. I get tingling through out my body and cold sweats a few hours after I take it, and my heart races, and I tremble (I already have anxiety). Last night was horrible and was the last of my vitamin to take for the month. Has anyone else experienced this on vitamin D?

  16. Mary

    Yes I have been trying different multivitamins. The last lot had even higher dose. I started having more bone pain in the right leg and noticed a stinging sensation in my left knee. Now my right leg has stopped hurting but the left leg, especially the knee area, is very painful, like a woman’s labour pains. Stopped taking it for five days, but pain is still there. I can hardly stand the pain, even when in bed. I read that it has to do with the bone being malnourished, and the vitamin D doing its work to mend, and that eventually when the bone is repaired the pain will stop.

    • K.
      Oregon City, OR.

      I have experienced extreme anxiety from too much Vitamin D, yes.

  17. JD

    I will ask the same question that I asked back in April. After stopping
    the Vitamin D3, how long does it take for leg pains to disappear?

    Please, can someone tell me?

  18. Diane G

    My blood test shows I’ve only got 17.9 of D. I’ve taken 3 types of D3 in the past and had stopped but other than remembering 2 types caused constipation, the 3rd was good. Then my chiropractor told me their blend had changed and to go to another brand. Eventually I quite as my count only went up to 25. With this newest test I started 5,000 units/day of a brand I had at home and almost immediately I noticed only a little constipation and an increase in body pain in my legs, knees and shoulders and especially my fingers. I’ll be calling my doctor tomorrow!

    • Deb
      Kailua kona

      Same thing happened to me, I had terrible bone pain in my knees and legs when I upped my vitamin D3 to 5000 I got so constipated. I have tried to take vit d3 over the years and each time it happened and I had to quit. My level is at 48 so I think I’m going to quit trying to take it, it’s not worth the pain. Does this pain come from the calcium being leached from the bones or ?

      • mary lou W.

        Constipation leads me to ask if you may have low MAGNESIUM levels. Low magnesium levels can make consipation happen and can also be consistent with pain in joints. I take 5000 D3 daily, extra magnesium, multi vit and have done so for over 20 years with no problems at all. My test levels are in the upper level of normal. Rarely have constipation.

    • Deme
      Chiago, Illinois

      Just a couple of days

      • Deme

        It takes just a couple of days for the pain to stop. I’m glad I found this forum as I’ve tried Vit D several times on doctor’s orders and each time it caused pain till I stopped the supplement. My newest doctor also put me on calcitriol, and I had severe pain in all my joints. He said he thought it was working. I disagree. It was intolerable, so I stopped.

    • Deb
      OC, CA

      FYI, I’ve been told by my doctor that I need to take Vitamin D3 with whole milk or even avocado, in other words with fat, in order for the body to Properly absorb the vitamin. vitamin D is best absorbed with a low-to-moderate amount of fat, compared to no fat or lots of fat. Specifically, researchers have showed that 11 grams of fat leads to higher absorption than either 35 grams or 0 grams, at 16% higher and 20% higher respectively. If you take it with no fat, you’ll absorb approx. 15 to 30 percent less of the vitamin.

      • John

        I have being taking it for 7 to 8 years and have noticed lately that I am having a lot of pain in my shoulders and knees and s feeling of fatigue. I am also taking omega 3. I think I am going to take a break see what happens.

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