It is common knowledge that taking vitamins is part of living a healthy lifestyle. When searching for the correct supplement to complete your daily recommended values you may have been aware of the many warnings that over-the-counter everyday vitamins may not be complete or at the appropriate levels. But, were you aware that it is possible to have too much of a vitamin and be at risk of becoming vitamin toxic? Vitamin toxicity can lead to ill health effects and even in some cases death.
Classification of Vitamins
Vitamins on the market today are classified into two different types: fat or water soluble. A water soluble supplement means that it is not stored in the body and needs to be replaced each day. Common water soluble vitamins are vitamin C and B-complex. On the other hand, a fat soluble is the type that is not as easily eliminated from the body and is stored in our body's fat tissues. These can easily accumulate in the body and can lead to toxicity. Common fat soluble options include vitamins A, D and E.
Vitamin D Toxicity
It has been reported that adults need to increase their levels of vitamin D, especially women, to avoid bone loss and osteoporosis. Anything between 4,000-10,000 IU (international unit) of vitamin D is considered toxic. Some symptoms of vitamin D toxicity include appetite loss, general fatigue and weakness, weight loss, nausea and vomiting. In some cases, toxic levels of this supplement can over time affect the heart as well as produce kidney stones.
Vitamin E Toxicity
Average daily intake of this type of supplement should be approximately 30 IU per day. Fortunately, most of us do not consume enough vitamin E in a day and are at a low risk of experiencing toxicity, especially those on low-fat diets. However, when there is an overdose of E people have experienced gastrointestinal issues, cramping, headaches, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion and in extreme cases hemorrhaging, blood clotting and/or strokes. Some studies have found that large doses of vitamin E have shown statistically significant increases in mortality rates especially for those who are middle aged or older and who have chronic diseases.
Vitamin A Toxicity
Average daily intake of vitamin A for adults is approximately 3,300 IU and studies have shown that most adults consume this level through their normal diet. However, it is possible for some people to develop hypervitaminosis A or an excess of this vitamin stored in the body. Minor toxic symptoms include nausea, vomiting, headache, dizziness, blurred vision and uncoordinated muscular movements. In more severe cases, this toxicity can lead to birth defects, liver issues, a higher risk for osteoporosis and central nervous system disorders.
Tips for Safe Intake
Ensure that you are taking your vitamins and supplements only as directed. For those who eat regular healthy diets, toxicity from vitamins is a very low risk. However, if you are on a special diet, especially one that eliminates a certain group of foods or demands a higher consumption of another group, you may benefit from keeping a food journal. Logging the foods that you eat as well as the amount of these supplements you consume per day can help you avoid becoming toxic.