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Can You Have Too Many Vitamins?

written by: Robin Reichert • edited by: Rhonda Callow • updated: 7/5/2011

Too many vitamins can prove dangerous. This article explores how to know if you are getting adequate vitamin levels, and how much is too much.

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    With the increase in the number of people that are consuming vitamins and supplements, the awareness of vitamin toxicity is increasingly vital: toxic amounts of vitamins can prove harmful on one’s health, and there are a number of negative symptoms associated with the act of consuming too many vitamins. Just as too few vitamins have adverse health effects, toxic amounts of vitamins can cause an individual to become seriously ill.

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    Fat Soluble and Water Soluble

    There are two different kinds of vitamin classifications: fat soluble and water soluble vitamins. Fat soluble vitamins are the type of vitamins that can prove hazardous to one’s health: toxic amounts of vitamins that are fat soluble are not easily eliminated by the body whereas water soluble vitamins pass from the body with relative ease and minimize the chance of vitamin accumulation in the body. The most dangerous fat soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, and E. Toxic amounts of vitamins like A, D, and E can build up and are stored in one’s body fat tissues as well as other regions of the body.

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    Vitamin A

    More than 100,000 international units (IU) of vitamin A per day is considered a toxic amount. If consumed in vast amounts, vitamin A can lead to a condition known as Hypervitaminosis A. This condition has a number of harmful side effects including liver complications, the reduction of mineral density in the bones, possible birth defects, and issues with the central nervous system. Additionally, the individual that intakes too much vitamin A might suffer from vision difficulties, muscular difficulties, coordination loss, nausea, vomiting, vertigo, and headaches, too.

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    How Much Vitamin D is Too Much?

    More than 4,000 to 10,000 IU of vitamin D per day is considered a toxic amount of vitamins. Symptoms associated with vitamin D toxicity include things like a loss of appetite, general weakness and fatigue, weight loss, nausea, and vomiting. Too much vitamin D can also have negative effects on one’s heart and, in some people, too much vitamin D can bring on kidney stone formation.

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    What is Considered an Excess of Vitamin E?

    More than 400 IU of vitamin E per day is considered to be a toxic amount. Too much vitamin E can lead to problems with hemorrhaging and blood clotting. Vitamin E overdoses are also associated with gastrointestinal issues, cramping, headache, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, and easy bruising. Further, extreme cases of vitamin E toxicity can result in muscular weakness and excessive bleeding, as well as a stroke in chronic cases.

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    How to Avoid Issues

    In order to make sure that you are getting the correct vitamin intake so that you can avoid toxicity, it is best that you track all of your food intake and that you pay attention to the amounts of vitamins in food as well as in the vitamin supplements you consume. Keep a notebook and write down the vitamins in the foods you consume as well as the amount of vitamins that you consume via a supplement and add them together to get a total vitamin intake count. Following supplement instructions can also help you avoid issues with vitamin toxicity.

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    Resources

    Medical Food News: An article examining the symptoms of vitamin toxicity at:

    http://www.medicinalfoodnews.com/vol04/issue3/toxicity.

    Office of Dietary Supplements: Information about Vitamin A and its toxicity at:

    http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamina.asp

    Office of Dietary Supplements: Information about Vitamin D and its toxicity at:

    http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamind.asp

    Office of Dietary Supplements: Information about Vitamin E and its toxicity at:

    http://dietary-supplements.info.nih.gov/factsheets/vitamine.asp


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