The Potential Dangers of Taking Too Much Vitamins and Minerals from Supplements

Taking too much vitamins or minerals from supplements can lead to serious health risks such as nausea, diarrhea, stomach cramps, hair loss, fatigue & even death. Learn more about potential risks.

The Potential Dangers of Taking Too Much Vitamins and Minerals from Supplements

People who take too much vitamins and minerals from supplements may experience a range of adverse effects, from mild stomach cramps to coma and even death. Even if a supplement is generally considered safe, it may not be suitable for everyone. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the risk of side effects increases when taking high doses or multiple supplements. Manufacturers can add vitamins, minerals and other supplement ingredients to the foods we eat, such as breakfast cereals and beverages.

As a result, we may be consuming more of these ingredients than we think, and more may not be better. Taking more than necessary costs more and may also increase the risk of side effects. For example, too much vitamin A can cause headaches and liver damage, reduce bone strength, and cause birth defects. Excess iron causes nausea and vomiting and can damage the liver and other organs.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble nutrient that occurs naturally in many foods, such as beef, eggs, and many fruits and vegetables. An overdose of this vitamin can cause problems of confusion, hair loss, liver damage, and bone loss. It can also increase the risk of death and lung-related problems in people who have a history of smoking, especially in women who smoke. Adults who regularly exceed the safe daily maximum vitamin D limit of 4,000 international units (IU) could end up having serious heart problems. Vitamin B12 helps keep blood and nerve cells healthy and plays an important role in the production of DNA, according to the NIH.

The USPSTF postponed making recommendations on the use of multivitamins and single or combined nutrient supplements (other than beta-carotene or vitamin E) for the prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer due to lack of evidence. A sudden increase in vitamin K through diet or a supplement may decrease the effectiveness of anticoagulants. Scientists still don't know if routinely consuming an excessive amount of a vitamin or mineral (as opposed to a megadose) is a problem. It is important to talk to your doctor about any supplements you are taking, including vitamins and minerals, as well as about the dosage you are taking. According to the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, Congress defined supplements as products (other than tobacco) intended to supplement the diet that contain one or more dietary ingredients (including vitamins, minerals, herbs, botanicals, amino acids or other substances) or their components that are intended to be taken orally in pill, capsule, tablet or liquid form and are labeled as dietary supplements. In addition, a previous study found that men who took vitamin C supplements had a higher risk of developing kidney stones.

Nowadays everything from bottled water to orange juice seems to have high levels of vitamins and minerals. You'll also want to talk to your doctor or pharmacist to see if any vitamins interact with any medications you're taking. According to the NIH, the body also needs vitamin C to produce collagen which is important for wound healing. Vitamin C supplements may also interact with cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy according to the NIH. Some supplements may increase the risk of bleeding or if taken before surgery may change the response to anesthesia. With the cold season flu season and COVID-19 pandemic many people consume a lot of vitamin C and zinc thinking that they can fight and even prevent diseases.

However it is important to remember that taking too much vitamins or minerals from supplements can be dangerous for our health.