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  • Cameron Oglesby

Too much of a good thing?


Vitamin D is good for your health. It helps your body absorb calcium, strengthens your immune system’s ability to fight infection, and protects your bone, muscle and heart health. Specifically, vitamin D has the potential to help prevent bone loss, cancer, depression, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, unwanted weight loss, and multiple sclerosis.


Your body makes vitamin D from cholesterol when your skin’s exposed to sunlight. You can get some from foods, but not much. Aside from wild-caught salmon, herring, sardines, cod liver oil, canned light tuna, egg yolks, wild mushrooms, and fortified milk and orange juice, most foods contain very little.


As a result, 41.6% of all US adults– including 69.2% of Hispanic and 82.1% of African-American adults – have vitamin D deficiencies. And recent analytical research at the University of South Australia "found evidence that vitamin D deficiency can increase blood pressure and the risk of CVD [cardiovascular disease]."


No wonder 12,609,296 Americans – 3.2% of the total population – take vitamin D supplements, and that people over 70 take heavier doses of them.


But if some supplemental vitamin D is good – up to 4,000 International Units daily – more vitamin D isn’t. Taking extremely high doses over long periods of time can be toxic. In and of itself, there’s nothing harmful in vitamin D. But it does increase the amount of calcium in your bloodstream. Megadoses of vitamin D can produce mega concentrations of calcium. A 2015 case study reported that an older man with dementia who took 50,000 IU of vitamin D each day for six months had to be repeatedly hospitalized due to high calcium levels.


Excess calcium in your blood (hypercalcemia) can affect your digestive system, causing nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, and poor appetite.


It can injure your kidneys and even cause kidney failure. That’s because hypercalcemia causes kidneys’ blood vessels to constrict. Over time, this can lead to excess urination, kidney calcification, moderate to severe kidney injury, and kidney disease complications.


Elevated calcium levels in the brain can lead to dementia-like symptoms: confusion, depression, agitation, unresponsiveness, and psychosis.


All these symptoms take time to develop, as excess vitamin D causes calcium levels to build up in your bloodstream. They also take time to reverse, and different people react to different dosages in different ways. But if you’re taking more than 4,000 IU of vitamin D supplements, you should make sure your doctor knows and checks your vitamin D and calcium levels.


A similar principle applies to senior care: When some care is good, more isn’t necessarily better. Full-time care when part-time will do, a higher skill level than needed, assisted living when some home help and home modifications will serve – all can rob elders of their independence, to say nothing of wasting money.


So when you contact us, the very first part of our holistic senior care management planning is a thorough three-part needs assessment in which we ascertain not only our clients’ and their families’ physical, emotional and environmental needs, but their values and priorities as well. What we learn becomes the basis of a custom-tailored, coordinated plan that provides exactly the care our client needs – not more, not less.


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