Recent Blog Articles

By the way, doctor: Is it safe to take high doses of vitamin D?

Updated: January 01, 2010

Q. On the basis of a blood test, my doctor wants me to take high doses of vitamin D for three months. I hear there are wide variations among laboratories performing these tests. Should I trust my first results, or take the test again? What are the risks of taking high doses of vitamin D?

A. Vitamin D is essential to bone metabolism; below-normal blood levels can increase your risk for osteoporosis, falls, and possibly fractures. There are three main forms of vitamin D. The active form found in our bodies is 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D; the body makes it from two precursors, vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Foods and supplements are the main sources of vitamin D2. Vitamin D3 is produced in the skin through exposure to ultraviolet light (as in sunlight); it's also found in foods and supplements. Both vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 are converted into active vitamin D in the liver and the kidneys.

To continue reading this article, you must log in.

Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.

  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »

I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.

Sign Me Up

Already a member? Login ».


As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.