Vitamins are essential to our body function. Without them everyone would be very sick on a regular basis, and not be able to survive for very long. In fact, millions, if not billions, of people around the world are vitamin deficient on a regular basis. Everyone knows that vitamins are great for your health, but most forget the real danger of vitamin overdoses and how they can permanently damage your organs and body.
Vitamin overdoses occur when you intake many amounts over the United States recommended allowance of the vitamin. Each vitamin and mineral has a set guideline for what you should be consuming each day through food or other energy sources, such as the sunlight. With the hundreds of vitamins available on the market and in science, there are rigorous guidelines that are followed.
To begin with, the USRA guidelines are determined by extensive testing. Testing includes providing an animal, or human, with under a specific amount and over. Through each trial scientists are able to confirm how much you need to be at an optimal health. Some vitamins aren’t necessary but can boost your health. Others are very necessary and can be life threatening if you overdose or “under dose”.
Since every vitamin is different, it is best to know what you need and don’t need by getting vitamin deficiency blood tests performed. Body size, height, age, and race all play important factors in your vitamin needs. Vitamin overdoses happen when you think you need 5,000 IU’s of Vitamin A, and end up not really needing that amount. With such a huge popularity stirring about for dietary supplements, there has been an increase in both vitamin overdoses and vitamin sales. USRA guidelines are designed to cover your needs, which is why they exist. Since it’s impossible for these “guidelines” to know if you have a vitamin absorption problem, its always best to be sure you do not end up with a vitamin overdose.
It is true however that vitamin overdoses are harder to come by than say, a pharmacy drug overdose. Many vitamins will be excreted from your body if taken in excess. Sadly, some people do fall into the trap of getting too many vitamins and end up the in hospital. Fat soluble vitamins pose the greatest risk for overdose as compared to water soluble vitamins. Fat soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E and K. Surprisingly; many people are actually deficient in these, rather than overdosing. When a fat soluble vitamin is taken through pills or food, it is absorbed very quickly into your blood stream and entire body. This is why fat soluble vitamins are the most risky to take in high amounts.
Vitamin D in excess can actually cause osteoporosis, and the other 3 have similar risks. Water soluble vitamins are absorbed into the water you drink, and then passed into your bloodstream. These vitamins are ones like B-vitamins and Vitamin C, the most commonly “overdosed” vitamins. Of course, if a water soluble vitamin is taken in high amounts it is simply passed through urine or stool. B vitamins are taken many times the recommended amount if you consume an energy drink. Energy drinks can contain up to 2,000% the recommended amount, which is simply passed out of your body.
The real problem with taking water soluble vitamins too often (every day or even a few times a week) is that they put a great amount of stress on your liver and kidneys. Even if you can’t really overdose on a specific vitamin, they all cause extreme bodily strain if taken too often in high doses.
Common issues associated with vitamin overdoses include:
• Liver failure or liver problems.
• Kidney failure or kidney problems due to your body “filtering” too many vitamins and minerals.
• And in some cases, death
Why are you at a higher risk for vitamin overdose now than ever before? Because almost every food on grocery shelves claim to be “vitamin fortified”, or have vitamins added. Energy drinks, cereals, candy bars, junk food, and even seasonings seem to be touting the claims of health miracles because they contain 50% of your Vitamin D needs. In reality, these are detrimental to your health efforts. If you eat a balanced diet you will most likely not need any extra vitamins. The only time you need more vitamins than stated on bottles is if you don’t regularly eat fruits and vegetables. A balanced diet will almost always provide you with 100% of your daily needs. Even multi-vitamins that claim to have all of your necessities can be too much for some people. Of course, if you are obese or overweight, your dietary needs are much different, thus warranting higher vitamin levels to maintain optimal body function.
If you suspect that you have overdosed on vitamins, it is most necessary to contact a poison control center or go to the hospital. Overdoses can attack your body rapidly, and when they are something as seemingly innocent as vitamins, it’s hard to know when you have a real problem on your hands. Never try to treat yourself for an overdose caused by fat soluble vitamins. This can end up making things worse, which is what you should avoid at all costs. Do not induce vomiting, and be sure to follow any instructions that a medical professional can give you over the phone or at the hospital.
The bottom line is that vitamin overdoses can occur without you realizing it. Even though vitamins and minerals are good for you, regularly consuming vitamin fortified foods, pills, or chewable tablets, unless otherwise noted by a physician, can hurt your health more than help it. Treatment can be expensive and painful, so be sure to know what your USRA’s are for each vitamin and what you need to maintain good health.