March 4, 2013
Vitamin D is a type of vitamin soluble to fat. It can be obtained from the diet or synthesized by the skin after exposure to direct sunlight. The two most common forms of vitamin D supplements are Cholecalciferol or D3 and ergocalciferol or D2. The potency of the former is higher than the latter. Higher doses of cholecalciferol will rarely exceed 5,000 international units or IU per day. On the other hand, ergocalciferol can be obtained by prescription as soft gels or capsules. They contain 50,000 international units. More often than not, high dose of ergocalciferol is used on a temporary basis. It is used to replace vitamin D stores to those with deficiencies. Even if this is generally safe, serious adverse reactions and also side effects will occur.
Though rare, several patients will experience allergic reactions to vitamin D supplements. Frequently, ergocalciferol 50, 000 IU capsules have additives and dyes which can trigger an allergic reaction in a tiny portion of the populace. Serious allergic reactions such as difficulty in breathing, hives, dizziness or swelling of the lips may need immediate medical attention.
The basic role of vitamin D will be to regulate the absorption of dietary calcium in the bloodstream. Supplementation with any vitamin D products will result to excessive high levels of calcium. Hypercalcemia has been associated with the formation of kidney stones. It has cardiovascular implications as well. Hypercalcemia is a serious condition. Patients using vitamin D supplements need to be routinely checked for the presence of calcium and vitamin D in the blood.
Effects on Nursing and Pregnant Women
Vitamin D is an essential component in the diet. It is necessary for a healthy body especially during breastfeeding or pregnancy. But supplementation with ergocalciferol 50, 000 IU will cause excess vitamin D and must be avoided. Based on the ergocalciferol or Drisdol TM product package insert, hypervitaminosis D has been found to result to fetal abnormalities in animals.
Hypervitaminosis D is also known as vitamin D toxicity. It can lead to formation of kidney stones, kidney impairment and calcification of renal tissue. Moreover, toxicity can result to cognitive impairment. Patients who use prescribed high dose supplementation with ergocalciferol should have their blood levels of vitamin D routinely checked by their doctors. Also, patients should inform their doctors if they have plans of using over-the-counter vitamin D supplements.
Filed under: Food Supplements