Is Constipation a Side Effect of Vitamin D?

You should consider several factors when thinking about a connection between vitamin D and constipation. Your metabolism, your vitamin D dosage and your other medicines or supplements may all play a role. If your physician determines that vitamin D is contributing to constipation, you will both need to decide if the benefits outweigh the negatives associated with bowel disturbances.

Close-up of raw salmon filet. (Image: NSritawat/iStock/Getty Images)

Vitamin D Is Essential

Your body needs vitamin D for a number of reasons. Vitamin D plays an essential role in absorbing calcium in the intestines and controlling the amount of calcium in your blood. This means vitamin D has the job of forming, maintaining and strengthening your bones. The main food sources of vitamin D include mackerel, salmon, cod liver oil, tuna and milk, dairy and orange juice fortified with D. The rest of what you need comes from the sun or supplementation. The sun stimulates the body to make vitamin D, but as over-exposure to it has caused skin cancer and premature aging of the skin, you may avoid spending time outdoors.

Extra Vitamin D Has Benefits

If you take vitamin D supplements, your doctor may have prescribed them to support the absorption of supplemental calcium. Calcium, like most minerals, can cause constipation. This makes it difficult to blame either supplement for your bowel trouble. Another reason to take vitamin D emerged from a 2009 study published in the "American Journal of Epidemiology." It suggested that higher levels of cardiovascular death occur in people with low levels of vitamin D. Reports such as these have produced an awareness of the importance of vitamin D supplementation that is unrelated to calcium.

Always Take the Correct Amount

With increasing numbers of people taking vitamin D for cardiac protection, the incidence of constipation rises. While a 400 IU dosage used to cover the absorption of calcium supplements, the National Institutes of Health has raised the dose to 1,000 IU for cardiac protection and for the recommended upper limit of vitamin D. At this level, constipation presents as a side effect for many of the people who take it.

Constipation Is a Risk

As with all things concerning your health, you have to weigh the benefits of vitamin D supplementation against the risks. Constipation doesn't merely cause discomfort and inconvenience, it carries health risks. Long-standing constipation may predispose you to colorectal cancer, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. On the other hand, if you have a history or family history of cardiovascular disease, it may be important to supplement your diet with vitamin D. The severity of your constipation can be controlled by various means.

You Can Control the Problem

You can make dietary changes that will help soften your stools. You can help relieve constipation by using a mixture of 1/2 cup of plain bran flakes, applesauce and prune-juice, made in a storage container and refrigerated. Every morning, consume 2 tablespoons of the mixture along with your regular breakfast. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables and go easy on binding foods such as rice and bananas. If you don't find relief from these dietary measures, try an over-the-counter stool softener or laxative. Check with your doctor for a recommendation of the safest product.

REFERENCES & RESOURCES
Load Comments
PARTNER & LICENSEE OF THE LIVESTRONG FOUNDATION

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.