Can Getting Too Much Vitamin D Cause a Rash?

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Too Much of a Good Thing

It's possible to get sick from getting too much vitamin D, according to the Mayo Clinic. This is usually a result of supplement dosage, as opposed to your dietary intake or sun exposure.

"Those with either low vitamin D levels or high vitamin D levels may be susceptible to skin rash or skin irritations, although this is not a common occurrence," says Villanova, Pennsylvania-based Lisa Diewald, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist, and program manager of the MacDonald Center for Obesity Prevention and Education (COPE) at Villanova University. "Like any medication or supplement, it is possible to experience an allergic reaction to vitamin D that could cause a mild allergic reaction such as a skin rash or hives."

Getting Your Daily Vitamin D

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According to the Mayo Clinic, you want to aim for 600 IUs of vitamin D daily (800 IUs if you're over 70).

Vitamin D intake can aid in cognitive health and is linked to lower rates of myriad diseases, Mayo Clinic says, including:

  • Cancer
  • Inherited disorders (hypophosphatemia)
  • Osteomalacia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Psoriasis
  • Rickets

The Cleveland Clinic adds to that list the following conditions:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Infections and immune system disorders
  • Multiple sclerosis

But getting adequate vitamin D can prove tricky.

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"Dietary sources of vitamin D are limited, and include fortified milk, non-dairy milks and breakfast cereals, along with foods such as salmon and fish oil," Diewald says.

We get a lot of our vitamin D from sun exposure, according to the Mayo Clinic, although, beyond food, it's popular in supplements as well.

Diewald says that reducing your risk of skin rash and other issues from vitamin D intake is fairly straightforward.

"Since adverse effects from excess vitamin D are likely to come from supplements and not dietary sources, try to optimize your dietary intake first, and be sure to spend some time in the sun to gain some additional vitamin D," Diewald says.

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"If you choose to take supplements, the tolerable upper limit — the maximum daily amount that is considered to be safe for most people — is 4,000 IU," she says.

"Too much can be toxic and increase your risk for reactions, so if you do take vitamin D supplements, read the label and avoid taking more than 1,000 IU daily without guidance from your physician, who may want to check your vitamin D levels to be sure they remain in a healthy range," Diewald says.

Read more: The 5 Best Vitamin D Supplements for Your Health Goals

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