How do we get vitamin D?
Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin, is tricky because very few foods have it naturally (fatty fish livers are the exception). We have vitamin D-fortified foods, but we count on the sun as our natural source. A brief lesson on how this works: Vitamin D from the diet (e.g., D-fortified dairy products) or the sun is inactive and needs to be converted to an active form in the liver and kidney before we use it. Then, our body uses vitamin D to support bone growth and other body functions.
Why do low vitamin D levels matter?
Vitamin D plays a significant role in bone strength, which is why low vitamin D may contribute to osteoporosis and a higher risk of falls and fractures. But vitamin D is also important for balancing your body’s overall calcium levels, and low levels can lead health issues like fatigue, weakness, muscle pain, among others. Many studies even show that vitamin D deficiency can increase your risk for some cancers (like colon cancer), autoimmune conditions, type 2 diabetes, and other diseases.
Which medications can cause low vitamin D levels?
The medications on this list can cause vitamin D deficiency by turning on an enzyme called P450 in your liver, which causes vitamin D to be more quickly broken down into inactive components. Know these.
Can you get too much vitamin D?
Sun exposure alone cannot lead to levels of vitamin D that are too high, so the usual culprit of intoxication is taking excessively high quantities of vitamin D for a prolonged period of time. Folks who consume megadoses of vitamin D supplements are at risk.
How much is too much? Vitamin D intoxication is extremely rare but has been documented in adults taking more than 60,000 IUs per day. So, a lot.
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