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Coroner: Vitamin D packs should outline ‘serious risks’ after overdose death

A coroner has raised concerns over vitamin D packaging after an 89-year-old man died from “vitamin D toxicity”, among other causes. 

The Courts and Tribunals Judiciary last week (February 22) published a report warning of vitamin D supplement toxicity after a man died who took “vitamin supplements for at least the preceding nine months”. 

The report said that David Mitchener, aged 89, was admitted to East Surrey Hospital with hypercalacaemia on May 10 2023.

But “despite treatment”, assistant coroner for Surrey Jonathan Stevens found that Mr Mitchener died ten days later on May 20 of “vitamin D toxicity” as well as congestive cardiac failure and acute on chronic kidney failure, hypercalacaemia and ischaemic heart disease.

The report said that ante-mortem tests “revealed vitamin D levels at 380” – “the maximum level recordable by the laboratory”.

It added that he had been taking the vitamins, which bore “no warning on or in the packaging detailing the specific risks or side effects”, for “at least” the previous nine months.

 

“Very serious risks”

 

“There is a risk that future deaths will occur unless action is taken”, the coroner said. 

The report, addressed to the Department of Health and Social Care (DH) and the Food Standards Agency, warned that vitamin packaging was a “matter of concern”.

“Vitamin supplements can have potentially very serious risks and side effects when taken in excess,” the coroner said. 

He added that there is an “absence of appropriate warnings and guidance about dosage” on containers.

He said that this was because “current food labelling requirements do not require these risks and side effects to be written on the packaging”.

Meanwhile, assistant coroner for Cumbria Robert Cohen last month raised concerns that pharmacies have “no apparent obligation” to report when a patient stops collecting methadone, after a man died when a pharmacy’s warnings were ignored.  

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