Government Stacked
UK Flag menu arrow

Select your country

Track my results

How to Flush Vitamin D Out of Your System

Vitamin D is a basic nutrient used by the body to fuel multiple biological processes central to our survival. These include:  
  • Stimulating cell and nerve growth.
  • Keeping our muscles and joints healthy and fully functional.
  • Ensuring our immune systems respond to infections and release antibodies when required.
  • Absorbing glucose and calcium from our food: high levels of vitamin D mean greater absorption of these two key substances.
  • Balancing the levels of calcium and phosphorus in our bloodstreams.
  Vitamin D enters our bodies in one of two ways; via the foods we eat and via sunshine. Yes, one form of vitamin D – D3 or cholecalciferol – is generated in our epidermis when this is exposed to sunlight. This is the only vitamin which can be generated within the body itself.

Vitamin D in food

Some foods are abundant in vitamin D. These include:

Fish 

Oily fish like herring, mackerel, sardines and tuna all contain at least 200 international units of vitamin D per piece and upwards – or one quarter to one third of the recommended daily amount.   International units or IU are a widely recognised metric used to measure biological and medicinal substances.

Eggs

Eggs – or to be more precise egg yolks – also contain a good level of vitamin D. Eggs from free range hens are particularly rich.

Red meat

The amount of vitamin D in red meat varies according to both the particular animal and the amount of sunshine they were exposed to. Clearly this is not a vegetarian-friendly option.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are the only plant food to offer a good level of vitamin D. Fungi synthesise vitamin D2 when exposed to sunlight. Just like salmon, wild varieties offer much higher levels than farmed ones – as much as 2,300 IU per serving: that’s 300% of the recommended daily amount. By contrast, farmed varieties may offer as little as a few hundred IU. This is because farmed mushrooms are often grown in the dark, under ultraviolet light.   Dietary supplements are also available – both multivitamin and specialist – along with cod liver oil, which may not be suitable for vegans but are ideal for those who do not like the taste of fish, or some of the other foods above. Some foods are also routinely fortified with vitamin D – for example, breakfast cereals and some brands of milk.   But can you have too much of a good thing? What happens if your diet is too high in vitamin D?

Can too much vitamin D be bad for you?

Too much vitamin D can potentially be damaging to your health, however this is rare. It is highly unlikely that you could ever overdose on Vitamin D via sunlight or through your diet.    The amount of cholecalciferol produced by our bodies is regulated by our nervous systems. In some rare cases, a toxic build-up of vitamin D is triggered by the overuse of dietary supplements, causing someone to exceed the recommended daily intake for a prolonged period. Excessive sunbed use is also a potential risk factor.   Our bodies store vitamin D within fatty organs like the liver for later use, so previously consumed vitamin D may also contribute to toxic build-up.

How much is too much?

There is no precise answer to this question as blood levels and nutrient requirements vary by individual. But most doctors would agree that a blood level of 150 nanograms per litre (ng/ml), or a dietary intake of in excess of 4,000 IU per day, would be hazardous to the health of most adults. 4,000 IU is more than six times the recommended daily amount of 600 IU.   However, it is worth reiterating that overdosing on vitamin D is unlikely.

Vitamin D toxicity

Excessive vitamin D absorption is medically termed hypervitaminosis D. This condition throws the balance of calcium circulating within our system out of balance, causing an excess to begin accumulating. Doctors refer to this state as hypercalcemia.   Hypervitaminosis D is not common but it can cause health complications. Typical symptoms include:  
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Mental confusion
  • Physical weakness
  • Kidney problems and kidney stones
  • Pain in particular bones as growth and repair is disrupted
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. Tell them if you have reason to think it may be related to high vitamin D consumption. If they do diagnose hypervitaminosis D, they will almost certainly advise limiting your intake of both vitamin D and calcium, stopping the supplements and changing your diet. Fish may be off the menu for a while: as we saw above, it is a major source of vitamin D but it is also abundant in calcium.   Medication and hospital treatment may be necessary in particularly severe cases.   This kind of corrective treatment should not be confused with the use of high doses to treat vitamin D deficiencies. In those cases, the doses are administered under medical supervision, for a limited time only and with continuous monitoring.

Are there any risks to taking vitamin D supplements? 

As previously mentioned, it’s highly unlikely that exposure to vitamin D through sunlight or through your diet will result in an overdose.    However, it is possible to take too many supplements which contain vitamin D. Doing so can increase the levels of calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia), which can result in nausea, constipation, lightheadedness, and confusion.   As this is rare it is easy to avoid. Ensure you know the dose of any supplements you might take, sticking to the recommended daily amount. If you take multiple supplements, especially multivitamins, make sure you’re not doubling up on anything.   Additional care is needed in some instances when taking vitamin D supplements: 
  • If you take certain medicines, such as digoxin or thiazide diuretics
  • If you have high calcium levels, certain types of cancer, or other medical conditions including kidney stones, kidney disease, or liver disease 


What to do if you have an excess of vitamin D – can it be flushed out?

Cutting your intake of vitamin D and calcium is the most important step to take if your consumption has become excessive. Allow your system to settle and rebalance itself.   But how do you flush vitamin D out of your system – and can you even do that? Yes, by ensuring you consume plenty of water. This will encourage urination, allowing your body to shed the excess vitamin D and calcium more quickly. Prescription diuretics like furosemide can also be helpful. A diuretic is a medicine that increases fluid loss.

Low levels of vitamin D

While elevated vitamin D levels are exceptionally rare, it’s far more common for somebody to experience low levels of vitamin D.

Symptoms of low vitamin D levels include:
  • Pain
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Depression

How to test for low levels of vitamin D

If you have doubts about the level of vitamin D in your diet, getting a blood test makes a lot of sense. Your GP may refer you for one, but unless your case is urgent, you could be in for a long wait.    Why not jump the queue and order a vitamin D test you can take at home? You will still receive reliable, professional results and these will enable you to take full control of your health.