Vitamin D is an important vitamin for the body which helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. The main source of the vitamin is sunlight, which between October and early March people may struggle to get enough of. Those at risk of vitamin D deficiency may consider taking a vitamin D supplement during these months. But if you take too much vitamin D your bowel movements may begin to change.
In some cases of vitamin D overdose, toilet habits can be affected, says Dr Andrew Thornber, chief medical officer at Now Patient.
These changes can include diarrhoea, constipation and frequent urination.
Too much vitamin D can also affect blood and calcium levels.
Dr Thornber explained: “Your body doesn’t take too much vitamin D from sunlight but can from supplements.
“10mg is enough for most people a day, but don’t take more than 100mg.
“Too much taken for prolonged periods can lead to a build-up of calcium in the body and cause weaken the bones as well as damage the heart and kidneys.”
The body should usually get enough vitamin D from natural sunlight (from spring onwards) and eating foods such as egg yolks, liver, oily fish and red meat can help, as they contain some levels of vitamin D.
Dr Thornber advised: “During the winter months you should consider taking a supplement containing 10mg of vitamin D during if you think you’re not getting enough from food.
“You should always check with your GP about correct levels, especially if you have medical conditions.”
How much vitamin D should you take?
Babies up to the age of one year need 8.5 to 10mg of vitamin D a day.
Children from the age of one year and adults need 10mg of vitamin D a day. This includes pregnant and breastfeeding women and people at risk of vitamin D deficiency.
People at risk of vitamin D deficiency
The Department of Health says you should consider taking a vitamin D supplement if you:
- Aren’t often outdoors – for example, if you’re frail or housebound.
- Are in an institution like a care home.
- Usually wear clothes that cover up most of your skin when outdoors.
- People with dark skin from African, African-Caribbean and south Asian backgrounds may also not get enough vitamin D from sunlight.
Dr Thornber added: “The majority of people should be able to get all the vitamin D they need from sunlight on their skin from March onwards.
“If you start to feel unwell after taking vitamin D for a period of time, again speak to your GP.”