Calciferol is a synthetic form of vitamin D2 that can be taken as a supplement to improve or stabilize calcium levels in the body. When taken as directed, the supplement corrects low levels of available calcium so the blood does not have to rob minerals from bones. People who suffer from parathyroid disorders, malnutrition, osteoporosis, or genetic conditions that impair calcium absorption may be prescribed daily supplies of calciferol along with special dietary instructions. Many health food stores and vitamin retailers offer over-the-counter calciferol tablets, but a person should speak with a doctor before starting a vitamin regimen to make sure it is safe.
Vitamin D is a vital nutrient. It promotes strong bones and body systems by regulating the amount of calcium available in the bloodstream. When a person has a vitamin D deficiency such as rickets, his or her blood tries to compensate for low calcium by extracting the mineral from bones, leaving them soft, brittle, and highly susceptible to injury. Calciferol supplements can help to correct major vitamin D deficiencies when increasing dietary intake is not enough.
It is essential to follow a doctor's instructions about how much calciferol to take at a time, when to take doses, and what foods to eat. There are risks of major side effects and serious health complications if calcium levels rise too high in the bloodstream. A doctor can determine the proper dosage amount based on results from blood and urine tests, a patient's age and weight, and the specific underlying cause of the vitamin D deficiency. Weekly checkups are recommended for most patients to determine if dosages need to be stopped or adjusted.
Possible side effects when taking calciferol supplements include increased urination, nausea, muscle aches, and weakness. Signs of an acute overdose may include mental confusion, fainting, extreme fatigue, and sudden weight loss. Serious complications that require emergency medical attention can arise if there is too much calcium in the bloodstream. Patients can develop painful kidney stones, renal failure, thyroid dysfunction, and increased heart rate, among other complications. Rarely, an allergic reaction can occur that causes severe chest pains and breathing difficulties.
Most people who listen to their doctors do not experience major side effects. In addition to taking supplements, a patient may be instructed to either limit or increase his or her intake of vitamin D-rich foods such as fish, dairy products, and eggs. Depending on the underlying cause, a person may need to take calciferol on a daily basis indefinitely or stop once calcium levels become stable.