Published on June 12, 2020
While it is true that the majority of individuals have no issues when taking vitamin D (in fact, many notice improvements in how they feel), there is a very small percentage of people who do experience unwanted side-effects. Yesterday, we discussed the condition of primary hyperparathyroidism, which is often asymptomatic however, supplementing with vitamin D has the possibility of “unmasking” the condition and its symptoms.
We will continue with our vitamin D myth busting series after discussing these rare but very real situations in which individuals with certain conditions may experience what seems to be a hypersensitivity to vitamin D supplementation, and sometimes, to the sun as well.
Sarcoidosis and Other Granulomatous Disorders
Granulomatous disorders, which include sarcoidosis, tuberculosis, lymphomas, leprosy, systemic fungal diseases resulting in granuloma (such as histoplasmosis, coccocidioidomycosis, blastomycosis, etc.), infantile subcutaneous fat necrosis, giant cell polymyositis, and berylliosis, are rare disorders that may lead to vitamin D hypersensitivity. These disorders involve granulomas, or abnormal masses of inflamed tissue or immune cells, that have the potential of changing the structure and function of certain organs. In sarcoidosis, the lungs and lymph tissues are most commonly affected, and symptoms may include sudden onset of weight loss, fever, fatigue, shortness of breath, and certain skin conditions.
Why can individuals with these diseases develop vitamin D hypersensitivity?
Individuals with these diseases can be known to have issues with calcium metabolism resulting in hypercalcemia. In some, hypercalcemia and other symptoms of vitamin D toxicity can be induced with very little intake of vitamin D or exposure to UVB, with symptoms that may even be “summer induced” or associated with seasons of higher UVB exposure. Individuals with these diseases tend to have low or normal levels of 25(OH)D, whereas vitamin D toxicity is usually associated with high 25(OH)D levels, above 200 ng/ml. This imbalance is due to the uncontrolled conversion of 25(OH) vitamin D (the form of vitamin D most often measured in the blood) to 1,25(OH)2D (the hormonal form of vitamin D) within the granulomatous tissues. The 1,25 vitamin D then becomes abnormally high and over-acts on the intestines and bone to pull calcium into the blood, which then can lead to symptoms of vitamin D toxicity and hypercalcemia, including bone softening, kidney stones and other renal problems.
It is important to note that this dysfunction of vitamin D induced hypercalcemia is not common among all granulomatous disorder patients – in fact, sun therapy has a history of providing healing benefits to those with tuberculosis, and higher 25(OH)D levels have been associated with an increased survival rate in lymphoma.
If you know or suspect that you have any of these conditions, or if you experience what feels like a hypersensitivity or negative effects due to vitamin D, please work with your health care provider to address these conditions, and work with them to safely resolve any existing vitamin D deficiency.
Is it true?
Our “Vitamin D Myths” series will continue to provide information and resources to answer the question, “Why should I care about vitamin D?” and to help dispel the myths and misconceptions surrounding it that may be preventing you and others from accepting it as an essential component to health. We will also discuss other nutrients essential to the function of vitamin D (and vice versa) within the body that should not be ignored.
Vitamin D is necessary for multiple functions within the body and should not be ignored, but has the hype about vitamin D and its role in the body’s response to COVID-19 been over-exaggerated? What concerns about vitamin D are valid, and which are not? We want to provide you with evidence based information to help you decide what vitamin D action to take, if any, for your own health.
We want to hear from you!
Is there a particular ‘myth’ you have heard about vitamin D? Or, something you have read or been told that makes you question whether vitamin D ‘deserves’ so much attention? Or whether you should be taking it and how much? Share with us by emailing jen @grassrootshealth.org what you have heard that makes you question vitamin D so that we can consider addressing it in our newsletters.
Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?
The only way to know is to test your levels! Testing versus blind supplementation is essential to know for sure if what you are taking is the right amount for you. Once you test your vitamin D (and other levels) to know where you are NOW, you can account for any upcoming changes in lifestyle over the coming months and adjust your intake to reach (or maintain) your targets.
- Vitamin D
- Magnesium PLUS Elements
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Type 1 Diabetes Autoantibodies
Did you know that each of the above can be measured at home using a simple blood spot test? As part of our ongoing research project, you can order your home blood spot test kit to get your levels, followed by education and steps to take to help you reach your optimal target levels. Start by enrolling and ordering your kit to measure each of the above important markers, and make sure you are getting enough of each to support better mood and wellbeing!
Create your custom home test kit today. Take steps to improve the status of each of these measurements to benefit your overall health. With measurement you can then determine how much is needed and steps to achieve your goals. You can also track your own intakes, symptoms and results to see what works best for YOU.
How Can You Use this Information for YOUR Health?
Having and maintaining healthy vitamin D and other nutrient levels can help improve your health now and for your future. Measuring is the only way to make sure you are getting enough!
STEP 1 Order your at-home blood spot test kit to measure vitamin D and other nutrients of concern to you, such as omega-3s, magnesium, essential and toxic elements (zinc, copper, selenium, lead, cadmium, mercury); include hsCRP as a marker of inflammation or HbA1c for blood sugar health
STEP 2 Answer the online questionnaire as part of the GrassrootsHealth study
STEP 3 Using our educational materials and tools (such as our dose calculators), assess your results to determine if you are in your desired target range or if actions should be taken to get there
STEP 4 After 3-6 months of implementing your changes, re-test to see if you have achieved your target level(s)