Is it Harmful to Take 50,000 IU of Vitamin D a Week?

by Carmen Roberts, M.S., R.D., L.D.N. Health Professional, Medical Reviewer

Asked by Jerri Koch

Question:

Are 50,000 International Units (IU) Of vitamin D Once A Week Harmful?

My doctor prescribed 50,000 IU of vitamin D, to be taken once a week due to vitamin D deficiency. Is this safe to take? Is there any way it would be toxic?

Answer:

The dose that your physician prescribed is likely safe if used on a short-term basis. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D is 600 IU for adults 18-70 years of age, and 800 IU for adults over 70. Vitamin D supplementation appears to be safe for adults when taken by mouth in doses of 4,000 IU daily (for a total of 28,000 IU per week).

When vitamin D deficiency is present, experts recommend a range of 40-2,000 IU of vitamin D each day depending on the severity of the deficiency. While the upper limit of this recommendation is 2,000 IU per day, research shows that high doses of vitamin D (10,000 to 50,000 IU daily) may be necessary for patients who have a history of malabsorption.

While vitamin D toxicity (also called hypervitaminosis D) is rare, it can have serious side effects. These include allergic skin reactions, a build-up of calcium in the arteries, headaches, muscle pain, kidney or urinary stones, and gastrointestinal problems (such as nausea, vomiting, constipation, and diarrhea).

Your vitamin D levels should be monitored closely during this time of high-dose supplementation. Report any adverse reactions to your doctor immediately.

You should know: The answer above provides general health information that is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment recommendations from a qualified healthcare professional.

You should know: The answer above provides general health information that is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment recommendations from a qualified healthcare professional.

Carmen Roberts, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.
Meet Our Writer
Carmen Roberts, M.S., R.D., L.D.N.

Carmen is a Registered Dietitian. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she has spent her career working at Johns Hopkins and is also an adjunct faculty instructor for Excelsior College. Carmen has over 20 years of experience in nutritional counseling, education, writing, and program management and is a certified specialist in adult weight management. She enjoys educating her students and clients about how nutrition affects the body and its role in overall health and wellness.