Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is made by our own bodies from sunlight. During the winter months, we may need to use supplementation in order to get enough vitamin D. However, vitamin D is associated with many other vitamins and minerals in our body, the most important being magnesium, vitamin K, and vitamin A.
We all know that vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium, so without enough vitamin D calcium cannot be absorbed. Calcium is used throughout the body for signaling between brain cells, development of bone, muscle contraction and tooth formation. A potential danger of taking high amounts of vitamin D is hypercalcemia, which causes elevated levels of calcium in the blood. Hypercalcemia typically only occurs with enormous amounts of vitamin D supplementation in the range of 30,000-40,000 IUs daily. Hypercalcuria, known as calcium kidney stones, is another possible effect of excess calcium in the body. Hypercalcuria occurs when the body tries to get rid of the excess calcium by excreting it through the kidneys.
Vitamin K is responsible for the clotting of blood and wound healing as well as the formation and maintenance of bones and teeth. Vitamin D increases calcium levels in the body, and vitamin K then helps the body use that calcium. If there is excess calcium in the body from high Vitamin D and you become deficient in vitamin K as it tries to use the extra calcium, you will have difficulty with wound healing and blood clotting, a very dangerous situation. But note that Vitamin K supplementation is not suggested because of possible unwanted, excessive coagulation of the blood, so instead focus on eating foods high in vitamin K. (Recommended foods are below!)
Magnesium has numerous roles in the body yet nearly ½ the population fails to meet its requirements because magnesium levels in our soil have decreased significantly in the past 50 years. Magnesium helps metabolize vitamin D and maintain calcium balance. Since magnesium helps metabolize D, supplementing with D causes more magnesium to be needed for it’s metabolism and a magnesium deficiency may occur. Magnesium also assists in muscle relaxation while calcium begins a muscle contraction. Therefore a balance between calcium and magnesium is more important than their individual levels. So if your magnesium levels are decreased from excess supplementation of vitamin D, the balance of calcium and magnesium may also be skewed causing issues with muscle cramping and the muscle’s ability to work well.
Vitamin A is important for our immunity, our eyesight, our skin and more. Interestingly, researchers have found that you can prevent vitamin D toxicity with Vitamin A and vice versa. So you need vitamin A to prevent toxicity of vitamin D and D to prevent toxicity of A, another balancing act. But, appropriate levels of vitamin A will cause vitamin D to stay in check which can keep magnesium and vitamin K in check and help lower the excess calcium that builds up.
Vitamin D deficiency is a serious problem and we should try to make sure we are getting enough of it. But at the same time, we need to be cautious of how much we are taking and consider the role of other key vitamins and minerals in our bodies. If you do supplement with large doses of vitamin D or are prescribed large doses, we highly recommend that you focus on consuming foods high in vitamins A & K and magnesium to help the balancing act continue.
Vitamin A Foods: Cooked sweet potatoes, cooked carrots, kale, butternut squash, romaine lettuce, red peppers, cantaloupe, Bluefin tuna, mango
Vitamin K Foods: Herbs, leafy greens, scallions, brussel sprouts, Broccoli, chili powder, curry & paprika, asparagus, pickles, cabbage & prunes.
Magnesium: Spinach, nuts & seeds, mackerel, beans & lentils, whole grains, avocados, bananas, dried figs, dark chocolate