Conflicting advice on vitamin D and calcium supplementation

Tom

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Thank you for your advice! I will be using the repticalc with D3 2-3 times a week during the colder months, since he is now eating grocery store greens.

You are right, I am probably overthinking it. I just got a bit scared from all the articles stating how dangerous it is to overdose on calcium and especially D3 if given orally. You are probably right, that I am on the safe side with those things :)
It IS possible to overdose on calcium. Giving loads of calcium every day will eventually result in a lack of other important trace elements and nutrients. Likewise, using human pills for D3 could result in an over dose. Everything in moderation...

Using a small pinch of calcium powder with D3 in it that is intended for reptiles two or three times a week is enough to meet your tortoises needs and cannot result in an overdose. And as I said before, there is a very wide margin of error on this. You could do double this or half of this, and your tortoise would still be fine. There are people with healthy tortoises out in the world that use calcium every day, and others that use no calcium supplementation at all. For most of each year, I use almost no calcium supplementation on any of my adults. This is because I feed them an abundance of weeds that are high in calcium, along with regular feedings of opuntia pads and mulberry leaves, both of which a very high in calcium content. In fall, when the weeds have all been long dead and dried up, the mulberry leaves all die and fall off, and my cactus stand go dormant, I rely on grocery store lettuce, endive or escarole, bought by the case. I add calcium powder to the lettuce, as well as soaked horse hay pellets for fiber, and dried leaf options for variety. During that time of year, I also feed them occasional Mazuri to make sure their nutritional needs are met until the rains return and bring back the wild weeds and grasses for them to graze on all winter. Our winters are warm and sunny here. Daytime high temps are around 20-24C and mostly sunny with occasional rainy days to water the weeds.

All of the above is an attempt to explain why the advice varies so much. Some people live in cold areas where the tortoises are indoors and there are no weeds to scavenge due to several feet of snow on the ground. These people usually rely on grocery store lettuce and need more calcium supplementation in their tortoise's diet. On the other end of that spectrum are people in warm tropical climates whose tortoises live outdoors and graze on calcium rich leaves and weeds year round. These people don't need any calcium supplementation at all. I'm in the middle of those two extremes, so I only need calcium supplementation for a small portion of each year. I use more calcium for growing babies of giant species, and I use little to no calcium for grown adults of small species. How much calcium to use varies a lot, but a small pinch twice a week is a good general guideline and will serve most tortoises in most situations very well.
 

The_Four_Toed_Edward

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It IS possible to overdose on calcium. Giving loads of calcium every day will eventually result in a lack of other important trace elements and nutrients. Likewise, using human pills for D3 could result in an over dose. Everything in moderation...

Using a small pinch of calcium powder with D3 in it that is intended for reptiles two or three times a week is enough to meet your tortoises needs and cannot result in an overdose. And as I said before, there is a very wide margin of error on this. You could do double this or half of this, and your tortoise would still be fine. There are people with healthy tortoises out in the world that use calcium every day, and others that use no calcium supplementation at all. For most of each year, I use almost no calcium supplementation on any of my adults. This is because I feed them an abundance of weeds that are high in calcium, along with regular feedings of opuntia pads and mulberry leaves, both of which a very high in calcium content. In fall, when the weeds have all been long dead and dried up, the mulberry leaves all die and fall off, and my cactus stand go dormant, I rely on grocery store lettuce, endive or escarole, bought by the case. I add calcium powder to the lettuce, as well as soaked horse hay pellets for fiber, and dried leaf options for variety. During that time of year, I also feed them occasional Mazuri to make sure their nutritional needs are met until the rains return and bring back the wild weeds and grasses for them to graze on all winter. Our winters are warm and sunny here. Daytime high temps are around 20-24C and mostly sunny with occasional rainy days to water the weeds.

All of the above is an attempt to explain why the advice varies so much. Some people live in cold areas where the tortoises are indoors and there are no weeds to scavenge due to several feet of snow on the ground. These people usually rely on grocery store lettuce and need more calcium supplementation in their tortoise's diet. On the other end of that spectrum are people in warm tropical climates whose tortoises live outdoors and graze on calcium rich leaves and weeds year round. These people don't need any calcium supplementation at all. I'm in the middle of those two extremes, so I only need calcium supplementation for a small portion of each year. I use more calcium for growing babies of giant species, and I use little to no calcium for grown adults of small species. How much calcium to use varies a lot, but a small pinch twice a week is a good general guideline and will serve most tortoises in most situations very well.
Yes, thank you for clarifying. I feel like sometimes it is hard to find articles that take into account people living in different climates. I think the most extreme example is recommending brumation outside for all occasions. It is simply not safe up here. Last year the ground here was frozen down 160 cm deep, or 5.2 feet. There are s many examples...

One reason for the difficulty of finding area specific info for me has been that all the tortoise people of Finland seem to have disapeared from the internet before 2010. I can't find any newer sources or conversations in Finnish... but I can find a ton of Russians looking to be re-homed. Tortoises are long lived animals, wonder where they have gone. Same problem arises when buying, none of my local pet stores sell tortoise pellets.

There is a good reason why there are no native turtles in Finland, and all together only 10 different frog and reptile species. And even those prefer it down in the south ;)
 

Tom

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Yes, thank you for clarifying. I feel like sometimes it is hard to find articles that take into account people living in different climates. I think the most extreme example is recommending brumation outside for all occasions. It is simply not safe up here. Last year the ground here was frozen down 160 cm deep, or 5.2 feet. There are s many examples...

One reason for the difficulty of finding area specific info for me has been that all the tortoise people of Finland seem to have disapeared from the internet before 2010. I can't find any newer sources or conversations in Finnish... but I can find a ton of Russians looking to be re-homed. Tortoises are long lived animals, wonder where they have gone. Same problem arises when buying, none of my local pet stores sell tortoise pellets.

There is a good reason why there are no native turtles in Finland, and all together only 10 different frog and reptile species. And even those prefer it down in the south ;)
Wow. That is a deep frost line. We have the opposite problem here. We get an occasional winter night here down to 0C, but then the next day it is sunny and 23C. It is too warm here, too inconsistent, and there are just too many hazards to brumate them outdoors here. Rats, ants, coyotes, raccoons, flooding from rain, etc... The inconsistent temperatures are the worst part though.
 

Chubbs the tegu

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Way too much to read. I got through about half of it, and it was mostly good info. You are overthinking this tremendously. Just give a little pinch of calcium with D3 a couple of times a week and you will be good.

The reason there is so much info on this is because all of it works, and that is because there is a wide margin of error. If you give no calcium at all the tortoise will be fine. If you give calcium every day the tortoise will be fine. Here are some general guidelines:
1. If feeding the correct diet of a wide variety of broadleaf weeds, no calcium supplementation is necessary.
2. If feeding a lot of grocery store greens and lettuce, a small pinch two or three times a week is all that is needed and will meet the tortoise's needs.
3. Growing babies and egg laying females can benefit from a little bit more calcium supplementation, while fully grown adult males really don't need much calcium supplementation.
4. The low amount of D3 in most supplements is not enough to overdose when used normally. People nearer to the equator whose tortoises get a good diet and lots of sunshine really do not need any D3 supplementation. People who live in the north of Finland should probably use a supplement with D3 in it.
And I thought you wrote novels 😂
 

The_Four_Toed_Edward

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Wow. That is a deep frost line. We have the opposite problem here. We get an occasional winter night here down to 0C, but then the next day it is sunny and 23C. It is too warm here, too inconsistent, and there are just too many hazards to brumate them outdoors here. Rats, ants, coyotes, raccoons, flooding from rain, etc... The inconsistent temperatures are the worst part though.
Yeah, when I am ready to brumate my tortoise (probably not this year yet though) I am going for the fridge method to assure his health and safety... It is too cold to brumate outside, and inside the only way I can keep consistent temps indoors is getting him his own fridge to brumate in
 
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