Osteoporosis: Mega doses of Vitamin D?

I wonder whether people are aware that in India, even in the big cities, generally doctors do not ask for testing the Vitamin D levels in the blood of a patient. Further I do not even know whether some or any of the labs would be equipped to find the Vit D levels.

This is what doctors routinely do:

They prescribe sachets containing powdered Vitamin D, to the tune of 60,000 IU. These sachets are to be taken weekly. In very rare cases they would tst for Calcium levels in the blood, otherwise they leave it to the feeling of well-being of the patient--symptoms.

I have osteopenia and no symptoms pertaining to the bones. However I get muscular fatigue of the legs on exertion, with some aches. At first one doctor prescribed 6,00,000 IU by injection, and said this was routinely given to athletes and runners with muscle aches. However I was too scared to take these injections and so did not take them. Six hundred thousand units seemed just too much!

Instead I took the sachet powder of 60,000 IU of Vit D, but cautiously, and only on two occasions spaced two months apart - and felt very good afterwards. As a matter of fact I felt a splurge of activity come into me almost immediately after the first sachet of 60,000 IU. A feeling of "pep" !

A weekly dose of 60,000 IU would boil down to 60,000/7 = 8500 IU per day approx.

I read somewhere on the web that even 10,000 IU of Vitamin D per day are safe without toxic effects.

There was the story on the web of a debilitated lady in a wheel chair who got up and walked after mega doses of Vit D.

I wonder if anyone else has had experience with mega doses of Vit D for osteoporosis or muscle fatigue?

Apart from osteoporosis it is now being said to be good for a variety of ailments including cancer. I wonder if any readers are knowledgeable about Vita D in mega doses.

Thank you,
Yours,

Edited April 23, 2009 at 6:43 am

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Hi Nathji, you have asked my question for me! I am taking only 1000iu daily of Vit D and I have been feeling more energy since. I hope to increase that to 2000iu, but also was wondering if there is a 'too much' point. Another interesting point. My Vit D capsules also contain Vit K2, and my calcium casules also contain Vit k1. Reading some of the literature I am learning that these vitamins too are highly important in our quest to strengthen our bones. Your comments on testing in India interested me too, as I have a niece in Delhi aged 53. Cheers from NZ.

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Dear nathji:

The Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University says we should aim for about 2000 I.U. per day of vitamin D: http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminD/ My personal opinion is that the worst place to get your vitamin D is from sunlight because it will increase your risk of developing several types of skin cancer. The best place to get your vitamin D is from high-fat fish because the omega-3 fatty acids also present in fish fat have been shown to greatly, greatly reduce your risk of developing all cancers, heart attacks, strokes, and high blood pressure. Also, it is totally unnecessary to increase your calcium intake higher than 700mg per day. You can get the maximum benefit from vitamin D without increasing your calcium intake. Scientific studies show that a high calcium intake will increase your bone density in the short term but greatly increase your risk of developing bone fractures in the long term, possibly because of premature aging, overstimulation, burn-out, die-off, and/or reduction in the number of osteoblasts. Other excellent web addresses I've bookmarked for myself on vitamin D include: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12540414?ordinalpos=11&itool=EntrezSyste m2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDo cSum http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/print.asp?ID=147

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Dear nornd,

Thanks for the enlightening reply. I will try to find the capsules with K1 and K2 though I doubt whether most chemists here will have heard of it. I am glad that vitamin D made you feel energetic. At first I thought it was just my imagination! Your 1000 IU per day would make this 7000 IU per week and 30,000 IU per month-- which is half the dose that they have in sachets here, of 60,000 IU. And that too taken weekly. I feel the Indian dose may be just too much at times!! I hope your niece in Delhi isnt taking it! Please keep in touch, and thank you again.
Yours,
Priya

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Hi Nathji,

I am now on my third round of "therapeutic doses" of Vit. D (50,000 mg. once a week for 12 weeks.) I then take another Vit. D test to see if I have improved. I have some times improved but not nearly enough to be at or near the optimum level my Endocrinologist wants, i.e., 75-100 ng. One time I tested, I had actually gone down after the therapeutic dose. All my testing has been done at the same laboratory.

I have had Osteoporosis for a long time so I definitely want to improve my levels but it does seem a very slow process. I also live in the Northeast so winters don't help the problem either. Both my daughters have low levels as well.

I intend to have a bone scan very soon and begin the
Strontium Citrate regimen thereafter. Interestingly,
my bone scan showed good improvement last year
though I had quit Boniva a year before. I had been
taking Vit D on my own (about 3000 mg. a day) after
a D test by another doctor showed I was in the mid 20's range. I had also been using natural Progesterone skin cream for some of the year but dont know if either of the above improved my scores.

It does seem sometimes that building and maintaining strong bones seems more elusive then
any of us would like.

Namaste,

Aquarian

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Priya, the regime I am taking comes from America. I have only been on it for two months, having thrown away my fosomax which I was on for several years. So I won't know any benefits until I have a DEXA scan at the end of the year. But I can tell you I feel a lot stronger in myself. The brand is called Bone Strength by Now Foods, which contains Vit K1. I supplement this with Vit D3 and K2, also made by Now Foods. And I take Strontium capsules each night. By the way my Indian niece hasn't got osteoporosis that I know of. The upper level for Vit D intake appears to be 2000iu according to the Linus Pauling Institute. So I guess 1000-1500iu is good. Take care and talk soon.

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Dear Aquarian,

Thank you very much for your very informative reply which does clear up a lot of things! Except that in India we lead an "empirical existence"-- depending upon how we feel rather than proper blood tests of a sophisticated variety which are available only in big cities.

I happen to live in a small city, Mussoorie, in the Himalayan Mountains of Northern India-- where medical aid is as scarce as a pink elephant!

Your reply certainly gives me the courage to go ahead with larger doses of Vit D.

Thank you for relieving me of a big worry! Your taking 50,000 IU per week gives me impetus to go on with my 60,000 IU per week.

Further your saying that even after this mega dosing your values of Vit D in the blood still fell -- goes to show that I must quit worrying about the Vit D levels shooting up suddenly with mega doses!! This is the best news of all!

Unfortunately not much is known about Strontium here -- but I recall reading on the web that Strontium was not as effective as the biophosphonates. It may have been the magic of Vit D 3000 IU daily in your case, regarding your bone improvement!

Thank you for giving a very encouraging reply to the haunting question on large doses of Vit D!! Please remain in touch!

I note you have been in India or have Indian friends to be familiar with the Indian greeting 'Namaste'!

Namaste to you as well!

And thank you again,

Yours,
Priya
(nathji)

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Dear nornd,

Hello again! AS a follow up on the Vit D question -- and the important worry that you have talked about, i.e. whether there can be anything as taking "too much" of Vit D --

I have received a very fascinating answer from Aquarium ( please see the replies in this discussion) in which she relates how taking 50,000 IU weekly for 12 weeks didnt make the Vit D levels "too much"-- and how they even fell at one time!

Also she has said that she has been taking 3000 IU of Vit D daily!! And feeling good.

This is indeed the best news yet!!

With best wishes,

Yours,
Priya
(nathji)

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I would never take megadoses of Vitamin D without having my blood levels checked. Surely the Indian medical system must have this test available ? If not --could not the blood sample be shipped elsewhere for assay.

While the supplement does have toxic side effects if overdosed--- the issue is that too many people - worldwide- both adult and child- are deficient in Vitamin D.

Sunshine has been thought to be the critical factor here--- but your level of exposure is dependent on not only your use of sunscreens as a cancer preventive, but where you live. In the States, if you live anywhere north of New York City you are getting minimal exposure to sun . Vitamin D levels are very low here as a result. Corrective Vitamin D supplements are needed. But this should be
monitored by a health care provider.

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The optimal range of Vitamin D levels should be about 50- 55. For a M.D. to insist on a range of 100 ? You may wish to have this double checked ?

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Dear Vihay,

You are absolutely right that we must be cautious in the amounts of Vit D we take and that these should be tested in the blood. The ignorance on this topic is amazing amongst doctors here.

I would, however, like to bring to your attention a website that speaks of large doses of Vit D and the research done on them. You might find it interesting, is a little controversial:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10232622

With thanks,
Yours,
Priya

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Hi Nathji,

I do want to agree with ViHay in that I would never take "megadoses" without first being tested.
The 50,000 mg. regimen was considered "therapeutic" after confirming low levels of D. I hope you find a way to have this test done if, indeed, you feel that you may be deficient.

I also want to say that I don't think the majority of
doctors are ordering this test routinely since I was
the one to raise the subject with my primary care
physician and both my daughters asked their own doctors for the test when I voiced my concerns
on the subject of Vit, D. Actually, one of my daughters was really quite deficient and I'm so relieved she is now on top of this problem.

Neither of these doctors hesitated to order the tests,
however, so perhaps the medical profession is beginning to believe its own research.

Re. ViHay's comment about the optimum levels
I mentioned. My primary said about "75" when I
first posed the question and when I saw my Endo-
crinologist, she also suggested 75. More recently
she mentioned 75 to 100 to my daughter but I don't
know why she reconsidered the range. I do know
that she had been to her professional meetings shortly before I saw her last spring and seemed clearly impressed by the many health issues involved in Vitamin D deficiencies that were covered at her
meetings. As for the optimum range, I still have a long way to go to even hit "50" I think.

Aquarian

PS. I have never been to India, Nathji, but when I
have taken Yoga our teacher would close with
the word and gesture "Namaste". A lovely word,
I think.

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Dear Aquarian,

Thanks for your enlightening reply. I am delighted to know that you took Vit D 3000 IU on your own after giving up Boniva -- and the bone density scores improved!! This is good news indeed for Vit D takers ( like me, who intend to go for mega doses of Vit D after giving up Actonel)

This might interest you: A friend of mine in Bombay had been taking Boniva for osteoporosis.

Then she discovered that her creatinine was 1.9 and that the kidneys were seen to be in a shrunken shape in the ultra sound. The upper limit for creatinine which defines kidney function is 1.4 here.

Either it was the Boniva that contributed to her kidney problem, or else the Boniva aggravated an already existing, but undetected, kidney problem, this was hard to say. But people with kidney problems should not take biophosphonates we have been told.

So her doctor -- and he must be good since he is in a big city like Bombay which has medical knowledge on par with the rest of the world-- told her to stop the Boniva.

And-- this is most encouraging -- he told her to take mega doses of Vit D instead, sachets of Vit D3 powder of 60,000 IU per week. She has been doing this for some time now, but hasnt gone for a bone density test yet. But she feels all right.

Your taking the high doses of Vit D =50,000 IU, your giving up Boniva, and taking 3000 IU of Vit D daily -- and your having an improved bone density subsequently all speak of the potential for Vit D in the treatment of osteoporosis.

It is the most encouraging news I have received about Vit D so far and I must thank you for sharing it with all of us. I believe most of us are deficient in Vit D. I know -- without testing-- that I must be so, because I have always led an indoor life, being a bookworm and an author tied to the desktop, and going for walks in the evenings when the sun has set.

Please continue sharing your experiences. Good luck with the strontium in case you have to take it!!
But dont give up the Vit D!!

Yours,
Priya

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About two years ago I asked my physician to include a test of the Vitamin D level in my blood. When it showed the level was quite below the normal range he prescribed 50,000 IU pill of Vitamin D per week for me for eight weeks. When I got the prescribed pills and investigated further I found that in the US the prescription Vitamin D is Vitamin D2. Being prescription pills they were much more expensive than the 2000 IU Vitamin D3 pills which can be had without prescription. I decided to take 4 pills of Vitamin D3 a day (8000 IU) and did so for a few months. When I got my blood tested again I was above normal range for one component of Vitamin D in the blood. So I reduced my dose to an average of 5000 IU a day (some days taking 6000 and other days taking 4000) After that every time I have had my Vitamin D level tested it has been in the normal range. Now I am mostly down to 2 pills (4000 IU) a day taken along with a calcium-magnesium pill (600 mg) and a Ostivone pill-- the latter is supposed to help with bone health when taken with the calcium pill. I take the Vitamin D3 to help both with bone health and my recurrent PCa, for which I have used phytotherapy (Prostasol )very effectively for several years, I can increase or decrease the number of Prostasol pills to confine the PSA level to a range between 3.5 and 8. Anyone interested in Prostasol for Prostate Cancer should look up the website for Dr. Ben Pfeiffer who practices in a Cancer Clinic in Brunen, Switzerland and has done clinical testing on the effectiveness of Prostasol for hormone dependent and hormone independent prostate cancer.

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Dear Seerwise,

Thank you so much for your clarification on high doses of Vit D. It should be an eye -opener for all of us afraid of taking high doses. Of course you did this very scientifically after undergoing blood tests. Here the blood tests for Vit D are practically unknown and doctors just empirically prescribe sachets of Vit D with 60,000 IU of D3-- whenever they notice that the patient is not improving with mere calcium supplements.Thank you also for the prostate cancer information. This will be of great use to many I am sure. Please keep on posting your very erudite and helpful experiences.

Thank you again,
Yours,
Priya
(nathji)

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I have to take a Vit D pill once a week with 50,000 IUs for 12 weeks. I'm on my fourth week and I feel much much better. Especially soon after I take the pill I feel like a burst of energy. I also probably get at least 2,000 IU of Vit D a day from what I eat and other supplements. I believe it's really helping because I broke my hip last August and have not felt the slightest bit of pain for 3 weeks.

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Dear Stepho,

Many thanks for your enlightenment. Its a wonderful story and I am greatly encouraged by it! Thanks for sharing it.

Did you get any blood tests for Vit D done before or after the Vit D intakes? I too get that burst of energy feeling when I take Vit D.

Surely it is not entirely due to the Calcium that Vit D is supposed to absorb into the body-- there must be something energizing about the Vit D itself. I wonder why doctors never investigated this aspect.

Please keep in touch.
Thanking you,
Yours,
Priya

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Hi All:
The first step is to get tested by your doctor or independent lab. The 24 OH test is the best. If your doctor won't do it then the Vitamin D Council will. Their site is a wealth of info.
www.vitamindcouncil.org.

If you are below 50 then supplement based on their recommendations. Retest in 3 to 6 months.

Even though the chance for overdose is low, testing followed by supervision with a trained health professional is a good idea. Vitamin D is not a guessing game vitamin. It can cause harm so you need to be careful.

Woody McMahon
Reston/Herndon Support Group Leader

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Hi,
I am encouraged by this discussion. I am in my mid-30's and diagnosed (already) with osteopenia. My Vit D levels were found to be 17 (normal 32-100). I have celiac disease which obviously causes problems with intestinal absorption. I had been taking 400 IUs daily, with no improvement. As this is a fat soluble vitamin, I was reluctant to take more. I was prescribed 50,000 IUs weekly, and am encouraged by the discussions above on the safety and the positive feelings. I have had muscles aches for years, and Vit D deficiency could be the source. Will keep you posted on my progress. If anyone has info on celiac disease and Vit D absorption, please post. Would welcome feedback.
Thanks!

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Dear SequoiaHealth,

Many thanks for the advice on Vit D as well as the site address of the Vit D council. You are quite right there may be the possibility of harm with over dosing and it is better to be on the safe side. There are however sites that speak of safety margins being well above the accepted norms, since even a single exposure to sunlight gives up to 20,000 IU. Please see this

/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10232622

Best wishes and thanks,
Yours,
Priya

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Dear gia104,

I was deeply interested in your discussion reply, it throws a light on many things. I have never had myself tested for celiac disease, and blood tests for Vit D do not exist where I live in India. I had been taking a vitamin-mineral pill that contains 400 IU of Vit D. I took four glasses of milk a day which added up to 1200 mg of Calcium--but I was still diagnosed with osteopenia.

The doctor said that the calcium from the milk was simply being thrown out of the system and not absorbed. Indian milk is not fortified with Vit D. I do get muscle aches when walking and especially great fatigue after a long walk.

However since this is also the symptom of hypercalcemia I could not make much headway on deciding whether to take the 60,000 IU sachets of Vit D. I took a few sachets at random intervals -- and felt very pepped up after that, which would mean that there was a deficiency.

We in India have to make do with empirical symptoms when proper medical facilities are not available--- the feeling of "well-being" being one of them.

But the proper path would be the one the majority of folk have followed in this discussion which is to get a blood test for Vit D done somewhere before embarking on high doses. Even though there are sites that speak of very high dosing:

http:/www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10232622

Best wishes and thanks,
Yours,
Priya

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