Is it possible to overdose on micronutrients?

If a little is good, then more must be better. That’s the thinking of the many people who are consuming supplemental vitamin and mineral micronutrients at an unprecedented rate and in unbalanced quantities. Supermarkets, gas stations and the corner drug store have a dizzying array of supplements laced with excessive amounts of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, omega fatty acids … all touted as making you healthier, more energetic, better in bed, on the job, on the road. Or so we’re led to believe. It’s incredibly easy to experience micronutrient overdose, particularly vitamin overdose,

The beverage industry has created an explosion of fortified drinks. Fruit juices, vitamin waters and energy drinks are sold by the millions of gallons to consumers who perceive they need more vitamins, omega fatty acids, whatever. On average these drinks contain 4 to 5 added micronutrients with B6, B12 and niacin being the most common additives. Moreover, most of these added nutrients are present in quantities that far exceed the body’s daily requirement.

There’s a reason micronutrients are called “micro” nutrients. The body only needs and only can use a very small amount of them. Anything above that either goes to waste (along with the money you paid for it), or in some cases, can be dangerous to your health, resulting in conditions you’d never hope to get.

It IS possible to overdose on micronutrients.

Let’s take Vitamin B3 (niacin) for example. The daily requirement for niacin is around 16 milligrams per day for adults, which is easily obtained from food if you eat well-balanced, nutritious meals. The only times supplementation might be needed is if you are recovering from a disease, or your regular diet rivals those of third world countries. Now, if you consume a couple of energy drinks a day, or pop a B3 supplement pill every morning, you might actually be getting up to 10 grams a day, not to mention the niacin you get from “fortified” foods, which are plentiful these days. This far exceeds the 16 milligrams the body needs. Fortunately, niacin is a relatively low-risk micronutrient, although research studies have shown that niacin exceeding 2 grams a day can cause a release of histamine which can cause flushing and be harmful to individuals suffering from asthma or ulcers.

The results of overdosing on fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, C, D and E  are not so benign. If ingested in too large a quantity, they are potentially toxic, doing much more harm than good.

Vitamin A deficiencyA: Vitamin Overdose

Because Vitamin A is fat soluble, the body stores excess amounts, primarily in the liver, and these levels can accumulate. Excessive Vitamin A usually results from consuming too much Vitamin A from supplements. Symptoms of sudden vitamin A overdose include nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, and skin peeling. Signs of long-term Vitamin A toxicity are coarse hair, thinning eyebrows, dry skin, cracked lips, weakness, and severe headache.

C: Vitamin Overdose

Unlike Vitamin A, Vitamin C is water soluble, which means that if you take more than your body can use, the excess is usually excreted without causing harm. However, adverse reactions like diarrhea, stomach cramps, and nausea can occur. Vitamin C toxicity can also cause kidney stones. The recommended Vitamin C intake for adults per day is 65 to 90 milligrams (mg) a day. However, people often megadose on Vitamin C by routinely taking such products as Emergen-C (1,000 mg per packet) in a belief it will ward off colds. (There’s not much scientific evidence to support that belief.)   It is believed, however, that any amount larger than 500 mg per day can be enough to cause a problem.

D: Vitamin Overdose

A daily vitamin D intake of 4,000 IU is the tolerable upper intake level for adults, according to the Institute of Medicine. Too much Vitamin D can cause toxicity, The main consequence of Vitamin D toxicity is a buildup of calcium in your blood, which can cause nausea, vomiting, weakness, extreme thirst, frequent urination, and kidney stones

Vitamin D toxicity is likely to develop if you take 40,000 IU/day everyday for 3 months or more.

E: Vitamin Overdose

You’re not likely to overdose on Vitamin E through diet alone. However, if you take Vitamin E supplements and exceed the tolerable upper limit for your age, you could experience blurred vision, weakness, dizziness, nausea and diarrhea

Vitamin overdose may call up a bunch of symptoms for which you — or even your physician — have no explanation. You probably would never relate vitamin supplements to the reason you feel poorly because in your mind, you think they are only doing you good. Likewise, your doctor may not think to ask about OTC supplements you’re taking, and in many cases has not been trained to look for causes related to micronutrient overdose.


How to avoid micronutrient overdose

Micronutrient supplementation should not be a do-it-yourself endeavor. Too much is at stake. As far as micronutrients are concerned, the only thing that should concern you is whether your body has the optimal levels of essential nutrients. That takes a specialized Micronutrient Test which we highly recommend. This test is the safest, most accurate way to detect any excess (or deficiency) which then can be fixed, restoring balance and health to this system of micro miracle workers.