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Vitamin D supplements are a risk rather than a useful one

Vitamin D takes on numerous important functions for health, which is why many people use dietary supplements and vitamin D supplements. However, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) comes to the conclusion in a current report that the intake of vitamin D preparations with doses of 50 μg or 100 μg is not necessary from a nutritional point of view.

Vitamin D is produced by the body when our skin is in contact with sunlight. In contrast, only a relatively small proportion of the vitamin D supply can be covered through nutrition. And while it is not possible to overdose in the body’s own vitamin D. Production, there is a risk when taking high-dose vitamin D, for example, via certain food supplements.

Risk of overdose checked

BfR has therefore evaluated the health of products with a dosage of 50 and 100 micrograms (μg) cholecalciferol (precursor of active vitamin D) – representative of high-dose preparations that are taken by consumers to increase their vitamin D intake. The risk of overdose was also checked.

Symptoms of vitamin D overdose

With a vitamin D overdose, increased calcium levels in the blood serum (hypercalcaemia) and clinical symptoms such as fatigue, muscle weakness, vomiting, constipation and cardiac arrhythmias are possible consequences. “Ongoing hypercalcaemia can lead to kidney stones, kidney calcifications and ultimately to a decrease in kidney function,” warns the BfR.

Low risk with occasional consumption

With regard to the overdose risk, the BfR comes to the conclusion that with occasional consumption of such high-dose preparations, health impairments are currently unlikely. “However, if you take long-term daily high-dose vitamin D supplements, the current study indicates an increased health risk,” reports the BfR.

Additional supply is usually not necessary

However, the Federal Institute also sees no benefit in the vitamin D supplements. Because even without sunlight, a daily intake of 20 μg vitamin D is enough to cover the physical needs of most people. With a sufficient stay outdoors and appropriate sun exposure of the skin as well as a balanced diet, a good vitamin D supply can be achieved even without taking vitamin D supplements.

Check with your doctor beforehand

However, according to the BfR, the vitamin D requirement cannot be met naturally by a very small part of the population, and an additional intake can make sense for these people. However, those from risk groups who suffer comparatively more serious, treatment-related conditions of undersupply or lack of vitamin D should medically clarify the intake of the preparations beforehand, according to the BfR.

The Federal Institute comes to the conclusion that “in the context of a growing market for vitamin D-enriched foods, high-dose vitamin D supplements have the potential to cause total intake of vitamin D that is harmful to health.” Do not recognize population. (fp)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the requirements of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters


  • Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR): Vitamin D: unnecessary intake of high-dose food supplements (published July 31, 2020), (pdf)

Important NOTE:
This article contains general information only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.



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