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We are constantly reminded of the importance of keeping our vitamin intake as high as possible, but is it possible to overdose? Here's what you should know.
Vitamins are often encouraged to supplement nutrients that may be lacking in our diets. Physicians or nutritionists may suggest vitamins once it is confirmed that you have a nutrient deficiency and highly advise that the daily recommended doses are followed.
However, if you take more than the daily recommended dose for an extended period of time, you might overdose. Although the body can excrete excessive amounts of water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C, it can retain fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, which can be toxic.
These are the vitamins that are proven to be toxic if taken in excess:
Iron. If you exceed your daily recommended dose, you can experience nausea, bloody stools, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, fluid build-up in the lungs, and fever.
Vitamin A. An overdose of vitamin A can cause hair loss, liver damage, severe headaches, bone pain, blurred vision, dry skin, and vomiting
Vitamin D. Overdosing on vitamin D can lead to abnormal heart rhythm, constipation, frequent urination, muscle weakness, and confusion.
Vitamin E. If you take too much, it interferes with the body’s ability to clot blood, which can be harmful to those on blood-thinning medication
B Vitamins. B6 in excess can cause nerve damage; while B3 can cause jaundice, elevated liver enzyme levels, and nausea.
How to prevent it
Most of the vitamin supplements you see on store shelves are sold in dosages that won't cause problems as long as you follow the label directions. But sometimes people take much larger amounts, called "mega-doses" of vitamins, hoping the supplements will help prevent or treat specific health problems.
First of all, keep in mind that recommended doses are there for a reason, so taking a mega-dose out of the blue will not be of any help. It won't be "more effective". Quite on the contrary, as we've seen, it can actually be toxic.
By sticking to the recommended doses, you should be fine and not be at risk of overdosing. However, before you take vitamin supplements, check with your doctor!