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  • Writer's pictureHeather

Too Much Of A Good Thing – Vitamin Overdoses To Avoid

Generally speaking, taking vitamins is a good addition to our overall nutrition. We should all be diligent in taking a good multi-vitamin and possibly individual vitamins based on our food choices. However, we can overdo it and take too much of certain vitamins. Vitamins fall into two categories, fat-soluble and water-soluble. While taking high doses of any vitamin can possibly cause problems, the fat-soluble vitamins are more likely to become an issue. The most commonly taken fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins are stored in our fat and are not quickly excreted out of our system, like water-soluble vitamins. Before taking vitamins or minerals, discuss first with a trusted, health care provider. Some medical conditions and allergies may interfere with some vitamins and minerals. If prescribed or allowed by our health care provider, never take more than the recommended dose, and take with a full glass of water. If there is reason to suspect an allergic reaction, contact a healthcare provider immediately. Let’s investigate some vitamins that can lead to problems if we take them in too high of quantity or dose:

  1. Vitamin A - also called retinol, has many functions in the body. In addition to helping the eyes adjust to light changes, vitamin A plays an important role in bone growth, tooth development, reproduction, cell division, gene expression, and regulation of the immune system. The skin, eyes, and mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, throat and lungs depend on vitamin A to remain moist. Vitamin A is also an important antioxidant that may play a role in the prevention of certain cancers. Excess intake of vitamin A can affect bone health, including possible bone loss or fractures.

  2. Vitamin D - plays a critical role in the body’s use of calcium and phosphorous. It works by increasing the amount of calcium absorbed from the small intestine, helping to form and maintain bones. Vitamin D benefits the body by playing a role in immunity and controlling cell growth and may protect against osteoporosis, high blood pressure, cancer, and other diseases. Excess intake of vitamin D may cause accumulations in the liver and produce signs of poisoning. Signs of vitamin D toxicity include excess calcium in the blood, slowed mental and physical growth, decreased appetite, nausea and vomiting.

  3. Vitamin E - benefits the body by acting as an antioxidant, and protecting vitamins A and C, red blood cells, and essential fatty acids from destruction. Research from decades ago suggested that taking antioxidant supplements, vitamin E in particular, might help prevent heart disease and cancer. These findings have not been proven and more research is needed. Megadoses of supplemental vitamin E may pose a hazard to people taking blood-thinning medications such as Coumadin (also known as warfarin) and those on statin drugs.

  4. Vitamin K - naturally produced by the bacteria in the intestines, and plays an essential role in normal blood clotting, promoting bone health, and helping to produce proteins for blood, bones, and kidneys. Excessive amounts can cause the breakdown of red blood cells and liver damage. People taking blood-thinning drugs or anticoagulants should moderate their intake of foods with vitamin K, because excess vitamin K can alter blood clotting times. Large doses of vitamin K are not advised.

Prior to taking any vitamins, or minerals, in supplement form, consult with a trusted health professional. Unfortunately, vitamins and minerals can interact with prescription drugs and cause unintended effects. Always, let any health professional know what medications we are taking and what supplements we take.


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