2

votes

Strange Vitamin D Reaction

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created November 03, 2012 at 2:54 AM

Can anyone explain my strange vit D reaction?

To begin, let me say I have recently (this summer) taken decent daily doses of D-3 (4-6000 IU) without suffering any side effects at all. On top of that I was getting plenty of daily sun exposure (no sunscreen). I probably stopped taking them late in August, for reasons I forget.

This Sunday I realized that my sun exposure has been getting a lot less, I decided to start again. I took one 6000 IU dose before bed, and thought nothing of it. The next morning I woke up with an insane headache and a terrible fever. The headache is one of the worst I've had, and the fever as well. I was very achy all over, especially my neck and head. I also had a lot of nausea, so I didn't eat anything until maybe 9-10 at night. I was 90% fine the next morning, and 100% the next day.

I chalked it up to catching the flu, which has been going around lately. This dose happened to be the last I had, so I got a 10000 IU supplement when I was at the store this week. I took one dose last night, and this time I suffered all day with what I can only describe as a migraine. I have never had a legit migraine, but I couldn't move, cough, or see bright light without extreme pain.

So, I do a google search and get a migraine help forum with at least a dozen reports of vitamin D triggering migraines in migraine-prone people. Ironically, D is supposed to help with headaches.

I know headaches are one of the symptoms of vitamin D overdose, but I know I am not getting enough sun exposure or enough D from my multivitamin to cause this. I am at a loss to describe the high fever, too.

edit: I should mention that last night I ate a very high-fat dinner with the supplement, and I had fasted the rest of the day.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 07, 2012
at 04:35 PM

Serum D is not the same D as you take via supplements.

E0e9255281093b2d518b56d5217a0955

(184)

on November 05, 2012
at 03:12 PM

wildwabbit, ALL the northern peoples are as vitamin-D deficient as Americans? You know what ALL of them eat? The Inuit, Lapps, Icelanders, etc? What evidence do you have for that claim? I've been to Iceland twice. They eat masses of fish and land mammals, still. Including horse.

E0e9255281093b2d518b56d5217a0955

(184)

on November 05, 2012
at 03:06 PM

kashperanto, it is a fact that people, especially white people, who get more sun exposure, get more skin cancer. I base this on the scientific evidence, plus the evidence I saw with my own eyes when I lived in Australia.

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on November 04, 2012
at 11:28 PM

And why are you not in a position to do medical tests? This is not a particularly expensive test...

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on November 04, 2012
at 11:27 PM

You said you had a fever. Do you *know* you had a fever? That is, did you measure it with a thermometer? Or did it just "feel" like a fever? As in, your head was "hot"?

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on November 04, 2012
at 11:26 PM

The system responds to or prevents transient hypercalcemia with calcitonin. Without this regulatory mechanism, we would be hypercalcemic after meals, when a bolus of calcium is absorbed from the food. I couldn't tell you what the mechanism is, but because CGRP has been linked to migraines, I wonder if the calcitonin secretion necessary to keep serum calcium levels normal might be part of the reason. As for magnesium, it's a mild calcium channel blocker and has been shown to be effective in reducing frequency and intensity of migraines.

9b0310b623f8ed289c9571ab3a58a142

(384)

on November 04, 2012
at 07:05 PM

Thanks for the info. I knew about magnesium's importance, but I had never heard about the headache connection before.

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on November 04, 2012
at 05:43 PM

@margaret, the northern peoples historically got it in the diet via liver and other fats, whether fish or land mammals. Nowadays they are as vitamin-D deficient as Americans. And the relationship between area of skin and vitamin-d production is well documented in the book by Dr. Holick

9b0310b623f8ed289c9571ab3a58a142

(384)

on November 04, 2012
at 02:56 AM

Interesting idea. If I do decide to try the D again I will make sure to be taking a Mg supplement as well. It's kind of funny, because I had a strong urge to take an epsom salt bath last night (and I did).

9b0310b623f8ed289c9571ab3a58a142

(384)

on November 04, 2012
at 02:49 AM

@margarets: I wish I were available during peak sunlight hours to be outside, but it is an imperfect world. As for the skin cancer, only if you reject the negative correlation between sun exposure and skin cancer rates. It is a fact that as sun time has gone down, skin cancer rates have gone up.

9b0310b623f8ed289c9571ab3a58a142

(384)

on November 04, 2012
at 02:45 AM

I put the link in a comment on your original post in case you don't read here. I am currently not in a position to do medical tests. I do recall reading that some of these symptoms are related to hypercalcemia, so maybe the sudden increase in D allowed too much calcium to be moved? What is that about magnesium?

E0e9255281093b2d518b56d5217a0955

(184)

on November 03, 2012
at 10:16 PM

wildwabbit, that runs contrary to all the advice I've heard. If that were true, the Northern peoples of the world would've dropped like flies ages ago. However, going shirtless in the summer sun from 10-2 is a great way to get skin cancer.

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on November 03, 2012
at 02:18 PM

@margaret not remotely enough skin is exposed to generate any meaningful vitamin D in most people at most times of the day/year. If he or she can go shirtless between the hours of 10-2 during summer months for 30-60 minutes then it could be possible...

E0e9255281093b2d518b56d5217a0955

(184)

on November 03, 2012
at 12:49 PM

Maybe just go for a walk outside at lunch everyday. Get some natural light. Even in winter, it still counts. Heck it's freezing outside my house right now but it's very sunny!

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on November 03, 2012
at 09:24 AM

Migraine has been linked to the CGRP (calcitonin gene-related-peptide); as both vitamin D and CGRP play important roles in calcium regulation, a link between a strong response to vitamin D and headache doesn't seem so implausible. Maybe we *do* need to take much more magnesium...

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on November 03, 2012
at 09:21 AM

Oh, and would you post the links to the migraine forum you found?

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on November 03, 2012
at 09:21 AM

This is a form of "Stosstherapie" which is an accepted mode of treatment. Patients will get 50,000 IU once a week for 8 weeks.

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on November 03, 2012
at 09:11 AM

Hi kash, thanks for the comment on my post! What you describe does indeed sound very familiar. I'm developing a theory, but we need more information. Would you be willing to get your levels tested and report them here?

76211ec5301087de2588cfe3d6bccba9

(1178)

on November 03, 2012
at 05:21 AM

+1 for shots of sunshine

9b0310b623f8ed289c9571ab3a58a142

(384)

on November 03, 2012
at 05:14 AM

I was just trying to save some $$ with a more concentrated dosage. The 10000 IU is not nearly 10 times as expensive as the 1000 IU. I've also read many places (online, so I realize YMMV) that we actually need much more D than the "officials" recommend. These pills are "specially formulated to optimize vitamin D levels" I never really plan on taking it daily, at least not right away.

9b0310b623f8ed289c9571ab3a58a142

(384)

on November 03, 2012
at 05:10 AM

I had no real reason to take it when I did other than I remembered to do it. I understand that it is something associated naturally with sunshine, but when I've taken it in the past its effects were never very profound.

9b0310b623f8ed289c9571ab3a58a142

(384)

on November 03, 2012
at 05:08 AM

Interesting ideas. One of the comments argued that it takes weeks to get a change in the serum D levels, but then again that is assuming a SAD eater.

9b0310b623f8ed289c9571ab3a58a142

(384)

on November 03, 2012
at 05:02 AM

I know it does appear to be coincidental, but the migraine forum posts with dozens of similar reports (to the second incident) is what led me to post. I wonder if it is like a system shock that caused these incidents, because undoubtedly the migraine was one heck of a lot less painful than the strange flu-like condition I had Monday.

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10 Answers

2
E37d32694f4c44a5bda4fa26573c9726

on November 04, 2012
at 01:22 AM

Magnesium deficiency causes the headache. Vitamin D uses up magnesium, which results in the headache Many references on the web, such as http://www.easy-immune-health.com/magnesium-for-migraines.html http://www.easy-immune-health.com/vitamin-d-and-migraine.html Overview of Magnesium and Vitamin D is at http://is.gd/VDMag

9b0310b623f8ed289c9571ab3a58a142

(384)

on November 04, 2012
at 02:56 AM

Interesting idea. If I do decide to try the D again I will make sure to be taking a Mg supplement as well. It's kind of funny, because I had a strong urge to take an epsom salt bath last night (and I did).

2
3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

on November 03, 2012
at 03:52 AM

Dude, why are you takings shots of sunshine right before bed? When your body sees vitamin-D its programmed to think of daylight. It really is plugged into circadian rhythms and that stuff is majorly important to keep in balance.

9b0310b623f8ed289c9571ab3a58a142

(384)

on November 03, 2012
at 05:10 AM

I had no real reason to take it when I did other than I remembered to do it. I understand that it is something associated naturally with sunshine, but when I've taken it in the past its effects were never very profound.

76211ec5301087de2588cfe3d6bccba9

(1178)

on November 03, 2012
at 05:21 AM

+1 for shots of sunshine

2
Cb9a270955e2c277a02c4a4b5dad10b5

(10989)

on November 03, 2012
at 03:12 AM

Well if I were you I would wait a week and take the d3 pill again. I would do this Because, you had two seemingly different reactions to the d3. There's a chance the migraine and the flu like symptoms were random coincidences. I get weird joint pain if I take my 5000 iu d3 though, so I just take some calcitrel supplement with very moderate d3 and calcium bound together or something. It's supposedly better absorbed, since paleo is kind of anti-dairy (best source of calcium) then usually calcium supplements can help.

I would get something less than 10k iu though, that seems like soo much of one vitamin. Gl =[)

9b0310b623f8ed289c9571ab3a58a142

(384)

on November 03, 2012
at 05:02 AM

I know it does appear to be coincidental, but the migraine forum posts with dozens of similar reports (to the second incident) is what led me to post. I wonder if it is like a system shock that caused these incidents, because undoubtedly the migraine was one heck of a lot less painful than the strange flu-like condition I had Monday.

1
269a4f216c9c6ad4a7c4392c41f98971

on November 03, 2012
at 06:07 PM

And you did not forget vitamin D3??s little helper? ie helpers ... Vitamin K2, vitamin A, zinc, boron, and of course magnesium.

1
121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

on November 03, 2012
at 09:20 AM

There is some evidence that 25(OH)D, the storage metabolite of vitamin D that is used to assess vitamin D status, also binds the vitamin D receptor weakly. The trouble is that this effect has so far only been demonstrated when the 25(OH)D3 levels are sky-high, which seems unlikely in your case.

The trouble with supplementation is that the dose-response curve is so steep; it's not really natural in this respect. When you get your D from sun exposure, the curve is much flatter and the effects are longer-lasting.

It's conceivable that a large dose of cholecalciferol (D3) can have pharmacological effects, enough to cause a reaction like this. From my post you'll have read that things worsened as I increased the dosage to 2000 IU (though I was already having symptoms at 1000 IU, which is really insane and makes no sense to me whatsoever).

Please get your 25(OH)D (calcidiol) level checked. I would be keen to compare notes.

EDIT: I looked through my lab results from last year, when I was taking 750 - 900 mg/d, and to my great surprise, the serum magnesium was only 0.73 mmol/L, which is just barely above the low end of the reference range. Around this time my vitamin D level was about 60 ng/mL. So, even if I was taking it, either something was preventing me from absorbing it, or there was some other metabolic disturbance. At the time, I felt awful. The calcium level was not even particularly high (it was lower than it has been on other occasions).

The one difference between then and now is that I was still very iron-deficient then, although it hadn't yet been diagnosed. Now, the deficiency is being treated and I'm on a daily iron replacement.

I started taking a much larger dose of magnesium on the weekend (450 mg/d), and though it's early, I feel markedly better; though I'm not supplementing D at the moment, I've just had a couple of full-body UV treatments; I've had the reaction, but it's been much milder. The magnesium could be helping, or it could be that the vitamin D production is not all that strong from artificial sunlight.

My head is cooler and my concentration and sleep have improved noticeably.

This site (sorry, in German) says that, in a person with symptoms, the target serum Mg should be 0.9 mmol/L, and I've never had it come back that high, even when supplementing, so either my kidneys work extremely well, or I'm not absorbing it in the first place.

I'm going to keep this up and see if the improvements hold, then give supplementation of D another whirl. It does seem very strange that an amount you'd get from a short time in the summer sun would cause so much grief, so I'd sooner believe that this is unmasking a deficiency of some other nutrient.

1
E0e9255281093b2d518b56d5217a0955

on November 03, 2012
at 04:07 AM

My doctor advised me to take about 1000IU of Vitamin D every day. Why do you think you need 6-10 times that amount?

9b0310b623f8ed289c9571ab3a58a142

(384)

on November 03, 2012
at 05:14 AM

I was just trying to save some $$ with a more concentrated dosage. The 10000 IU is not nearly 10 times as expensive as the 1000 IU. I've also read many places (online, so I realize YMMV) that we actually need much more D than the "officials" recommend. These pills are "specially formulated to optimize vitamin D levels" I never really plan on taking it daily, at least not right away.

121a16aded2bed8dca492d3c9662ef4c

(1327)

on November 03, 2012
at 09:21 AM

This is a form of "Stosstherapie" which is an accepted mode of treatment. Patients will get 50,000 IU once a week for 8 weeks.

E0e9255281093b2d518b56d5217a0955

(184)

on November 03, 2012
at 10:16 PM

wildwabbit, that runs contrary to all the advice I've heard. If that were true, the Northern peoples of the world would've dropped like flies ages ago. However, going shirtless in the summer sun from 10-2 is a great way to get skin cancer.

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on November 03, 2012
at 02:18 PM

@margaret not remotely enough skin is exposed to generate any meaningful vitamin D in most people at most times of the day/year. If he or she can go shirtless between the hours of 10-2 during summer months for 30-60 minutes then it could be possible...

E0e9255281093b2d518b56d5217a0955

(184)

on November 03, 2012
at 12:49 PM

Maybe just go for a walk outside at lunch everyday. Get some natural light. Even in winter, it still counts. Heck it's freezing outside my house right now but it's very sunny!

3b0b95dfc6dc5c18e535945f4aab0866

(2392)

on November 04, 2012
at 05:43 PM

@margaret, the northern peoples historically got it in the diet via liver and other fats, whether fish or land mammals. Nowadays they are as vitamin-D deficient as Americans. And the relationship between area of skin and vitamin-d production is well documented in the book by Dr. Holick

9b0310b623f8ed289c9571ab3a58a142

(384)

on November 04, 2012
at 02:49 AM

@margarets: I wish I were available during peak sunlight hours to be outside, but it is an imperfect world. As for the skin cancer, only if you reject the negative correlation between sun exposure and skin cancer rates. It is a fact that as sun time has gone down, skin cancer rates have gone up.

E0e9255281093b2d518b56d5217a0955

(184)

on November 05, 2012
at 03:12 PM

wildwabbit, ALL the northern peoples are as vitamin-D deficient as Americans? You know what ALL of them eat? The Inuit, Lapps, Icelanders, etc? What evidence do you have for that claim? I've been to Iceland twice. They eat masses of fish and land mammals, still. Including horse.

E0e9255281093b2d518b56d5217a0955

(184)

on November 05, 2012
at 03:06 PM

kashperanto, it is a fact that people, especially white people, who get more sun exposure, get more skin cancer. I base this on the scientific evidence, plus the evidence I saw with my own eyes when I lived in Australia.

0
B668f9e9a60a54c01a275a14b68a843e

(145)

on May 28, 2013
at 07:17 PM

I have taken supplemental D3 on and off for years, usually 5,000IU capsules. I also take magnesium citrate, K1/K2 and eat liver.

I recently ordered some Healthy Origins Vitamin D-3 10,000IU capsules. I took it for just under a week, taking 1 - 2 capsules daily as summer hasn't really arrived here in the UK and I read the body can make 20,000IU by itself.

Around this time, I had very bad excruciating back pain (This 'could' have been done at work, but I've never put it out working before) and today I took some in the morning and my 1pm noticed the visual disturbances common before a migraine.

By 2:30 I was a nauseous wreck with a splitting headache.

So, just putting my experience out there. D3 would be the last thing I'd suspect of causing it by Google has some more hits than I expected confirming this.

That said I also have far more years 'good' D3 supplement exposure so don't let this put you off supplementing. Just be careful.

0
5b8cf203186c3cb7810f5046e0532be8

(166)

on November 04, 2012
at 02:04 PM

Vitamin D pushes magnesium in your bones and lowers your magnesium serum level. Magnesium is a wonder drug for people with headaches. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1526-4610.1996.3603154.x/full

9b0310b623f8ed289c9571ab3a58a142

(384)

on November 04, 2012
at 07:05 PM

Thanks for the info. I knew about magnesium's importance, but I had never heard about the headache connection before.

0
9a5e2da94ad63ea3186dfa494e16a8d1

on November 04, 2012
at 01:05 PM

Those are mega-doses of vitamin D in my opinion. A few years ago I thought I was vitamin D deficient and I started to take 400mg per day and felt a LOT better. You are taking more than 10 times that amount. Try scaling it back to 500-1000mg per day and see if that helps.

I have some 5000mg pills, and if I take them more than once every couple of weeks, I get aches in my back around my kidneys. I think that dosage is just too high.

0
A089b683ee0498f2b21b7edfa300e405

on November 03, 2012
at 03:44 AM

There is some anecdotal evidence that taking it in the morning is better..

http://blog.sethroberts.net/2012/11/01/vitamin-d3-in-morning-improves-sleep-after-all-story-26/

(look for the previous posts in this series as well)

9b0310b623f8ed289c9571ab3a58a142

(384)

on November 03, 2012
at 05:08 AM

Interesting ideas. One of the comments argued that it takes weeks to get a change in the serum D levels, but then again that is assuming a SAD eater.

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41757)

on November 07, 2012
at 04:35 PM

Serum D is not the same D as you take via supplements.

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