Vitamin D is an essential vitamin the body needs to absorb calcium. It's not produced by the body, so people need to get it from the sun, food or supplements. A vitamin-D deficiency is quite common, with approximately 25 percent of the population at risk for developing it (click here to find out if you have symptoms) and 8 percent diagnosed with the deficiency. Preteens and young adults are at the highest risk for a decreased level of vitamin D, most likely due to the fact that they're doing a ton of growing during those years. But what about getting a surplus?
Too much of a good thing can turn sour. A surplus of vitamin D can cause nausea, constipation, abnormal heart rhythm, confusion and kidney stones. Sometimes, it can be fatal for individuals with certain pre-existing health conditions of liver or kidneys. Vitamin D toxicity is not caused by the sun or food, but from the wrong compilation of supplements.
The recommended daily dose or amount of vitamin D is super low at only 0.6mg. If you're looking at a bottle of supplement capsules, it will read in IU measurements instead, and 0.6mg will appear as 600 IU.
>> Read more: Glossary of Supplements: Vitamin D
Parents of newborns are told to give their babies doses of vitamin D, especially in winter months, to avoid the development of rickets. Vitamin D is not transferred through breast milk, but it is often fortified in formulas. So breastfed babies receive the vitamin drops while formula-fed babies don't. As a parent, you need to be diligent with the dosing so your baby does not experience a toxic reaction to it. The recommended dose is 0.4mg or 400 IU. Anything more than that can cause excessive thirst, nausea and vomiting, constipation, muscle aches and kidney problems.
>> Be informed: Should Your Child Take A Vitamin?
As an adult, focus on eating a balanced diet with vitamin-D rich foods like oily fish, mushrooms, lean pork, dairy products, eggs and fortified milk and orange juice. Sun exposure isn't exactly the safest way to obtain vitamin D due to harmful UV rays, but at least 10 minutes of direct sunlight to the skin is enough. For fairer skin, the time is less compared to those with darker skin.