Supplements warning: The common supplement that could lead to ‘permanent kidney damage’

This Morning: Dr Chris discusses vitamin D and Covid

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The supplement industry is stronger than ever, but researchers continue to weigh up the benefits against the risks. Mounting evidence suggests the advantages for our health may be underwhelming, while separate lines of research have raised concerns over their safety. One popular vitamin, for instance, has been linked to “permanent kidney damage”.

An article published in the Canadian Medical Association in 2019, found that excessive use of vitamin D could cause kidney damage in people who are not deficient.

The lead author of the report, Bourne Auguste, from the University of Toronto, Canada, told Medscape Medical News: “The aims of the cause study is to inform a wider audience that vitamin D at large doses in patients with normal serum vitamin D levels can lead to toxicity.

“The public should known that taking more vitamin than is recommended does not necessarily lead to added benefit.

“Rather, it can lead to increased harm and specifically kidney failure.”

READ MORE: Supplements: The side effect of too much vitamin D: ‘unpleasant and potentially dangerous’

“Given that it is so readily available in various over-the-counter formulations and the perception that it has many benefits with no harm, other patients may be at risk for vitamin D toxicity and potentially kidney failure.”

The study drew on the case of a 54-year-old man who was referred to a clinic with suspected acute kidney increase.

The authors explained: “He had recently returned from a trip to Southeast Asia, where he had spent extensive periods sunbathing for two weeks.”

Doctors found high levels of creatinine in the patient’s blood, which is usually indicative of kidney trouble.

Creatinine is a waste product produced during normal muscle function which normally gets filtered out by the kidneys.

Further tests revealed the patient had calcium deposits in his kidneys.

The patient revealed he was prescribed high doses of vitamin D by a naturopath, and admitted to taking doses higher than the recommended amount.

He also admitted buying the wrong strength vitamin D drops, which resulted in him taking between 8,000 and 12,000 IU of vitamin D daily over a period of two and half years.

The recommended amount for adults under the age of 50 is 400 to 1,000 daily, but higher doses of up to 2,000 are sometimes recommended for individuals at risk of osteoporosis.

Doctor Auguste added: “There is a recommendation to give people high doses of vitamin D, but you need to have a documented deficiency.

“Then you can get these high doses but only for a very short period of time.

“He thought that vitamins are harmless. And his logic, which one can understand looking back, is that the more vitamin D I take, the stronger the bones will be.”

The patient was left with irreversible chronic kidney disease as a result of his vitamin D intake, even after receiving treatment.

What’s more, the patient’s kidney function is only at about 30 percent, which means he may one day require dialysis.

Toxicity can occur after just a short period in individuals ingesting megadoses of vitamin D, so health experts should be consulted before commencing treatment with vitamin D.

Warning signs of toxicity can include nausea, vomiting, weakness and frequent urination.

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