These days, supplements abound on the market, all touting the various health benefits that come with taking them regularly. Many people believe the hype and pop these supplements like candy.
But as the saying goes, too much of a good thing is bad for you. Apparently, that saying applies to vitamins as well. In fact, the phenomenon of vitamin overdose is surprisingly little known for something that is as pervasive as the fad of taking all sorts of vitamin supplements.
Unfortunately, these supplements are not as regulated as other medications. Many overdoses on vitamins because they don’t understand what it is and their role in the body. Vitamins are substances found in plants and animals that your body needs for normal function, growth, and health.
The human body cannot manufacture these vitamins, and in some cases cannot store them in massive amounts. Each vitamin has a specific function, and they are involved in many processes that enable your body to use carbohydrates, fats, and proteins for energy and repair.
They can be classified into two categories: fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed by the body using bile acids and are stored until they are needed. Among these are vitamins A (retinol), D (calciferol, commonly referred to as the sunshine vitamin), K, and E (tocopherol). Water-soluble vitamins are easily absorbed by the body, but they cannot be stored and all excess is quickly flushed out through urine.
Among these are vitamins B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B12 (cyanocobalamin), C (ascorbic acid), H (biotin), and Folic Acid. If you have low levels of certain vitamins, regardless of whether it is a water-soluble or fat-soluble vitamin, you may develop a deficiency disease. Some of the more familiar vitamin deficiency diseases are rickets (lacking vitamin D), scurvy (lacking in vitamin C), pellagra (lacking in B3 or niacin), and beriberi (lacking in B1 or thiamine).
On the opposite end of the spectrum, multiple vitamin overdose is basically being poisoned by vitamins. This is most commonly observed in patients taking the fat-soluble vitamins A and D, as well as concentrating on a specific B vitamin. Obviously, this occurs when you have too much of a particular vitamin or number of vitamins, and the gravity of the overdose is largely determined from person to person, depending on their age and state of health.
As with the overdose of any drug, the imbalance causes unwanted side effects that are potentially life-threatening. The most common symptoms of vitamin overdose are diarrhea, irritability, dehydration, decreased appetite, constipation, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting. These symptoms may disappear if the dosage is reduced.
However, in some cases, the overdose may greatly affect your overall health. For example, if you have a vitamin D overdose, this will cause the calcium levels in your blood to rise to toxic levels, causing damage to soft tissues, bones, and kidneys, and possibly causing kidney stones to form.
An overdose of vitamin A may cause liver problems, excessive skin dryness or peeling, coarse bone growth, and reduced bone mineral density. Pregnant women must be cautious not to overdose on vitamins because they may cause potentially serious birth defects. The best way to get vitamins is through consuming nutritious food. To avoid a vitamin overdose, do not take more than the recommended daily dose of supplements.
It would be wiser to consult a doctor before taking any vitamin supplement, especially if you are pregnant or suspect you may be pregnant, have a preexisting medical condition, or are taking prescription medication regularly. Vitamin overdose is extremely preventable as long as you remember that everything must be taken in moderation.