Trouble in Little Supplements: Risks of Overdoing It
by Sárka-Jonae Miller
See more articles by Sarka_Jonae Miller
(The Best Years in Life)
Many people are worried about not
getting the nutrients they need from a modern diet. You see cereals, breads,
pastas, energy bars, sports drinks, and other products that are “fortified” or
otherwise have added vitamins and minerals. The issue becomes that although most
regular diets cannot possibly overdo it on nutrients, when you combine a
multivitamin and enriched foods, you could. Those little pills could put you at
risk for serious side effects.
Risks from Supplement
like some nerve damage and hair loss to go with that mineral supplement?
Probably not, but too much selenium in your body might cause you to lose your
hair, feel tired, experience gastrointestinal discomfort, and could even lead to
mild nerve damage.
mineral to watch out for is iron. Only people who are anemic and instructed by
their doctors to take iron supplements should do so. Your body cannot get rid of
excess iron in the same way it does many other substances, unless you bleed it
out. Too much iron in the body may increases your risk of heart disease and
cancer. Some women who experience heavy menstruation may benefit from
supplements that include iron, but most people should avoid them.
vitamin A can be toxic if there's too much in your system. Consuming too much
vitamin A – particularly as retinoic acid or retinol – can lead to an
accumulation that causes bone loss or bone pain. Irritability, fatigue,
dizziness, mental confusion, and blurry vision are other symptoms of too much
vitamin A. It can also cause you to lose your hair or feel nauseated. Some
people see their skin peel off, especially on the soles of their feet.
cases of vitamin A toxicity, people have been known to experience hemorrhaging
or to slip into a coma. Too much vitamin A can kill you.
can be problematic when taking large doses. More than 300 milligrams daily of
vitamin B6 could lead to nerve damage. And an excess of zinc or vitamin C might
lead to vomiting, diarrhea, or abdominal cramping.
Rare but Real Risks of
speaking, foods that are not enriched or fortified pose no danger of nutrient
overdoses. Yet, a combination of the added vitamins and minerals in foods might
be risky in you're also taking multivitamins, mineral complexes, or specific
exceptions include Brazil nuts and polar bear liver. There have been a few
reports of people who experienced an overdose of vitamin A from eating polar
bear liver, which is naturally high in vitamin A.
are high in selenium. The tolerable upper intake limit, as given by the
Institute of Medicine, for selenium is 400 micrograms daily for persons 14 years
of age and older. However, a single ounce of the nuts has 544 micrograms. If you
eat a lot of Brazil nuts on a regular basis, or if you're getting high amounts
of selenium from another source like enriched food items or supplements, then
you could be at risk.
Don't Stop Taking Supplements
there maybe be some risk doesn't mean supplements are harmful. The body
eliminates most excess nutrients. However, this doesn't mean there is a reason
to knowingly go above maximum safe levels. The best thing to do is to determine
your proper level of supplementation by consulting with a qualified naturopathic
or integrative doctor or other medical professional who is well versed in diet
If you are on any medications, it is especially important to speak with a
qualified medical professional - again, preferably a naturopathic or integrative
one - to find out if any of your supplements may interfere with your
medications. For example, some supplements could interfere with the ability of
your body to make blood clots when combined with blood-thinning medications. As
a bonus, a naturopathic or integrative specialist may be able to recommend safer
and more effective natural alternatives to mainstream drugs and their possible
The myth of being able to get all
the nutrition one needs from diet alone
Forget the Headlines - Keep Taking
Your Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements
About the Author
Sárka-Jonae Miller is a health and fitness expert. She began working in the
fitness industry in 2000 while pursuing a BS in journalism at Syracuse
University. She became certified as a personal fitness trainer and group
exercise instructor in 2003. She has also received training in massage therapy.
Sárka also writes fiction. She is the author of the chick lit novel,
Boyfriends. Get more health and wellness tips on Sárka's
Natural Healing Tips
blog or join her on
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