As doctors, people often ask us if it’s possible to take too many vitamins? And the answer is simple. Yes! While vitamins are an important part of a healthy lifestyle for most people, taking too large doses of even important vitamins, or taking unsafe and unneeded vitamins can cause great harm. A vitamin overdose is a real, and potentially very dangerous thing!
It is essential when determining what vitamins you should take, that you develop a personalized approach to vitamins. Base your daily vitamins on your individual needs. Take our personalized vitamin quiz here to get the right vitamins for your needs. Taking the right vitamins is important but taking more of something good is not always better.
In determining the right vitamins to take, you must also factor in not only which vitamins but also the dosing for each one, based on your individual needs and the evidence based data (medical science).
If you do not take the correct amounts of vitamins, what can happen from a vitamin overdose:
- Kidney Problems- ranging from kidney stones to actually kidney failure. Vitamins as common as vitamin C taken in excess amounts can be harmful. Other culprits include Calcium, Magnesium and and herbal supplements.
- GI side effects–Stomach aches, constipation, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal symptoms can be caused by many common supplement overdoses including Vitamin D, magnesium, certain B vitamins and many herbal products.
- Muscle aches–While many supplements can help with muscle aches, others when taken in excess can cause them. Especially be ware of certain supplements touted for cholesterol help such as red yeast rice and niacin.
- Liver Problems–Your liver can take a hit from excess doses of supplements, especially the fat soluble vitamins which accumulate in the liver such as Vitamins D, E,A and K. But others such as Niacin (a B vitamin) and herbal products can cause liver damage. People have ended up needing liver transplants after taking toxic doses of supplements.
- Changes in Mental Status– When toxic levels of vitamins accumulate in your body they can cause your cognition (thinking) to be affected and in severe cases coma can result. Especially lethal can be very high doses of calcium or vitamin D.
- Headaches– can occur related to many common supplements if taken in excess and especially if using poor quality supplements which may contain various additives that may or may not be listed on the label. See more here about about why these lists are not accurate.
If taking vitamins and supplements can cause all of these side effects, how do I not overdose on vitamins?
- Take high quality products– Vitamins are not regulated by the FDA. Therefore, quality and purity is not guaranteed. Taking a USP or GMP certification is one way to help ensure a better quality product.
- Take medically sound vitamins at the right doses for you- Your vitamin needs are not likely the same as your friends, family or neighbors.
- Consult with your doctor-always check with your own doctor to make sure your vitamins are appropriate to your health conditions or other medications.
- Take a personalized daily vitamin based on your individual needs-Taking a personalized vitamin regimen created by doctors based on your needs is one way to make sure you get the benefits of vitamins while staying safe.
- Don’t believe everything you hear. There is a lot of conflicting information out there. The media, Google and well meaning friends or family always have something to say about what vitamins you should take. Trust the experts and take an individualized approach to stay safe. Take our personalized vitamin quiz here.
Read more about supplement safety and how to avoid vitamin overdoses while taking the right vitamins for your health in our book, The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear the Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health. There is even a chapter called Vitamin Horror Stories, featuring real cases we have seen in which people suffered severe side effects from vitamins.
Romy Block specializes in Endocrinology and Metabolism and is mother to three active adolescent boys. Arielle Levitan is a Doctor of Internal Medicine with a special interest in Preventive Medicine and Women’s Health. She is a mother of three teenagers. As professional women with active family lives, they recognize that people often neglect their own health needs and are uncertain about what vitamins to take. Each person is different in her diet, exercise and health history, and will benefit from different nutrients. After years of advising their patients about the proper vitamins to take, Drs. Block and Levitan created Vous Vitamin® to provide people everywhere with quality vitamins that are suited to their individual needs. They are authors of the award winning The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health (She Writes Press, 2015). Take your vitamin survey now to get exactly the right vitamins for your needs.
The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products offered by Vous Vitamin® are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Nothing contained herein is intended to be a diagnosis or constitute medical advice. The symptoms described in this Blog may be a result of a serious medical condition which requires medical treatment. You should consult with your doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this Blog and before beginning any vitamin or supplement regimen.