A medical mystery involving a Canadian man was solved when doctors realized he had been taking excessive amounts of vitamin D for more than two years. However, this study revealed that that may not always be the case.
In a rare incident, a 54-year-old man, after returning from a trip to Southeast Asia where he spent much of his holiday sunbathing, was diagnosed with kidney damage after he took high doses of vitamin D for years.
Testing showed that the man had elevated blood levels of creatinine, a marker for kidney damage or malfunction. When doctors started asking him more detailed questions about his health, they discovered the true cause of his issues.
The patient was unable to find the specific brand prescribed by the naturopath and substituted one with a higher concentration of Vitamin D. Over two years, he took up to 12 drops daily, or 12,000 units of vitamin D. He now has kidney failure, due to high blood levels of calcium that led to deposits of calcium in the kidney.
Vitamin D, also known as sunshine vitamin, is an important nutrient for the body.
It isn't common for many consumers to think of vitamins as posing a danger to overall health, as they are marketed as being beneficial in virtually every sense.
The case study was titled, "Use of vitamin D drops leading to kidney failure in a 54-year-old man". He had also accidentally been purchasing a supplement containing twice as much of the vitamin as his naturopath had recommended.
The recommended daily allowance is 400-1000 IU, with 800-2000 IU recommended for adults at high-risk of osteoporosis and for older adults.
Dr. Bourne Auguste from Toronto General Hospital and colleagues found that the man had been prescribed high doses of over-the-counter vitamin D supplements by a naturopathic doctor. This was despite the man not having any vitamin deficiency or history of bone loss. The cause, as per the experts, is taking high doses of vitamin D for a long period.
In addition to the supplements, the patient spent a good amount of time in the sun during the entirety of his trip overseas, adding to his vitamin D exposure.
The man's calcium and vitamin D levels returned to normal after about a year, although he continues to live with stage 3 chronic kidney disease.
The authors say patients and clinicians should be better informed about the risks associated with unfettered use of vitamin D.