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A man was killed by vitamin D supplements he'd been taking for months. A coroner said the risks of taking too much weren't made clear.

A man in a white lab coat pours yellow pills into his hand.
It is possible to take too much vitamin D.Songsak rohprasit/ Getty
  • David Mitchener, 89, had been taking vitamin D supplements for at least nine months before he died.

  • Complications related to excess vitamin D and calcium led to him having liver and heart failure.

  • A coroner said that taking excessive amounts of vitamins could have serious health risks.

A man who had been taking vitamin D supplements for at least nine months died of a condition linked to excessive levels in the blood. The packaging didn't make clear the risks of taking too much, a UK coroner's report said.

David Mitchener, 89, a retired businessman from the UK, was admitted to the hospital on May 10 with hypercalcemia, a condition in which calcium levels in the blood are too high. It can weaken bones and cause kidney problems, such as kidney stones, as well as heart problems. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, so if we have too much, it can lead to a buildup of calcium.

When doctors tested Mitchener's vitamin D levels, the results showed they were at the maximum level recordable by the lab, the report said.

Michener died 10 days later. His primary cause of death was stated in the report as heart failure and kidney failure, excess calcium levels, and vitamin D toxicity, also known as hypervitaminosis D.

The coroner, Jonathan Stevens, said that there were no warnings on or in the packaging detailing the specific risks or side effects of taking vitamin D supplements. "Vitamin supplements can have potentially very serious risks and side effects when taken in excess," he said in the report.

Stevens urged the supplement manufacturer and regulatory bodies to do more to let people know how much they should take. "In my opinion, there is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken," he said.

For people ages 14 to 70, the recommended daily dose of vitamin D is 15 micrograms or 600 international units. This goes up to 20 mcg or 800 IU for people over 70, according to the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements.

In the US, products sold as dietary supplements must come with a "supplement facts" label that lists the active ingredients, the amount per serving, and other ingredients, such as fillers, binders, and flavorings. The NIH says on its website that manufacturers suggest the dose, but healthcare providers might decide on a different one depending on the person.

Vitamin D is essential for healthy bones, teeth, and muscles. It's in some foods, such as oily fish, red meat, egg yolks, and fortified breakfast cereals, but the main source is sunlight.

Read the original article on Business Insider