How much is too much?

There is no clear-cut answer as to how many vitamins and supplements is too much. What may be excessive to one person may be insufficient for another, as excessive is relative to the individual.

A person’s lifestyle, diet, metabolism and physiology should influence what supplements that person benefits from and also which and in what amounts those supplements might be harmful. Any vitamin, nutrient, mineral or supplement taken in excess can lead to adverse effects. Because all supplements contain different ingredients in varying concentrations, it can be very easy to overdose if you are taking too many supplements.

Taking a vitamin or a supplement that contains most of the nutrients we need, means we need to be careful about other supplements also. Getting the daily-recommended amount of vitamins is important for maintaining health, but consuming too much could potentially put internal organs at risk and increase side effects.

For example, too much vitamin A can cause headaches and liver damage, cause birth defects and reduce bone strength. Excess iron can cause vomiting and nausea and may damage the liver and other organs. The easiest way to tell if you are taking too many supplements is to make sure you’re not taking too high a dose of any nutrient, mineral or vitamin by reference to the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance).

While supplement overdose is relatively uncommon, serious health conditions are rare. Usually, when a person takes too many supplements, he or she will notice within a few days.

When too many supplements are taken for an extended period of time, the heart, liver and kidneys may become damaged. Because some of the vitamins we take are stored in the body for months at a time, we may continue to feel the side effects long after we discontinue the use of those supplements.

While vitamins and supplements are especially useful during pregnancy, the menopause and old age, it is always a good idea to try and obtain some of our nutrients from our diet. Always try to take the minimum amount of supplements recommended, but if in doubt, always obtain the guidance of a nutritionist.

2 Dec, 2014

4 thoughts on “How much is too much?

  1. Great post. I usually refer to the Recommended Daily Allowance for any vitamin or supplement and use that as a starting point, depending on my particular need for that supplement.

    For example, I struggle with a bad knee and I know that glucosamine is very helpful for joints, but I know that the RDA will not make any difference so I have researched how much I need, possible side effects to be aware of. I have noticed quite a difference to my knee movement so I know Im on the right track.

    You’re right that we ought to try and get much of our vitamins etc from food but there will always be times when this is not possible and it is useful to top that up or to supplement, if for a specific purpose is helpful.

    1. I completely agree with you. I agree that referring to Recommended Daily Allowance is a good starting point for taking any supplement.

      You have proved that it is perfectly acceptable to add a particular supplement if we’re struggling, in your case your bad knee, as long as it’s in compliance with the RDA of other supplements we’re taking.

  2. Yes, taking too much isn’t good for anybody. Supplements are a good thing but taking to much can be bad.

    I’ve been studying about supplements for a while now and most of my literature states that the RDA’s are probably not enough, so it is wise to get the opinion of a professional before starting any supplement program.

    I take a strong multivitamin, a supplement for my eyes, vitamin D3, calcium/magnesium and omega 3.

    1. Thanks Lisa. Here in the UK supplements aren’t regulated by any governing body, so different makes of vitamins we take aren’t subject to the same RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance). Perhaps it’s different in the States.

      Some vitamins and minerals in the UK are 100% RDA, some are three to four times the RDA. I think this is something the EU are working on now. I agree with you that if anyone is unsure of what they should be taking, it would be wise to speak to a health care professional.

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