Vitamins are micronutrients that our body needs for proper functioning. We can obtain both water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins from our diet alone. However, low dietary intake of specific vitamins can cause various health problems. To make up for low dietary intake of specific nutrients and to compensate the increased nutrient demand of elderly persons, doctors often prescribe vitamin supplements.
Some medical conditions like pregnancy, menopause and malnutrition need consumption of multivitamin on a regular basis. But taking recommended dose is necessary. Overdose of vitamins can cause toxicity and can even be fatal. So never consume a vitamin supplement without consulting your physician.
How to Avoid Overdose?
To avoid vitamin overdose, take dietary supplements only after consulting your physician. He / she will prescribe vitamin supplements after accessing your health condition and your body’s specific need. So there will be no risk of accidental overdose of vitamin. Follow physician’s dose instructions strictly and also stick to the time period it has been prescribed for. Do not extend the dose on your own. Also keep vitamins away from children.
Possible Causes of Overdose
Scientists have divided vitamins into two groups; water soluble and fat soluble. The water soluble vitamins (B vitamins and vitamin C) dissolve in water and get absorbed, while fat soluble vitamins are stored in the fat cells of your body. The excess amount of water soluble vitamins is flushed out by the body, making overdose impossible.
Fat soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E and K, however, get stored in your fat cells and liver. The over-consumption of these vitamins can get accumulated in your body and can lead to toxicity. This condition is called hypervitaminosis. The excess intake of vitamin A and D is most harmful.
Upper Intake Levels
To protect people from overdose of vitamin “The Food and Nutrition Board” has established upper intake levels or UL for vitamins that have the potential to cause harm. Exceeding the tolerable intake level on daily basis can lead to chronic hypervitaminosis over time. The upper intake level for vitamin A has been set 3,000 micrograms, 4,000 IU for vitamin D and 1000 mg for vitamin E. It has been suggested to obtain vitamin K only from diet to avoid excess intake. If you stick to the recommended dose, you can easily avoid overdose of vitamins. Taking several types of supplements on your own can duplicate some vitamins and can cause overdose.
Symptoms Caused by Overdose of Vitamins
Symptoms of vitamin Overdose vary considerably. Short term Overdose of vitamins can show symptoms like nausea, headache, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness and blurred vision. Chronic overdose of vitamin A may lead to liver problems, nervous system problem, birth defects and bone loss. The Overdose of vitamin D, both from food sources or supplements, can also cause constipation, nausea, vomiting and appetite loss and may eventually lead to hypervitaminosis as a long term effect.
This condition arises due to excess absorption of calcium by the digestive tract or if there is excess calcium stored in your blood. Vitamin D Overdose can further lead to severe depression and abnormal functioning of nervous system. Over consumption of vitamin E from food sources is not confirmed, but Overdose of vitamin E supplements can lead to improper blood clotting and hemorrhages. The excess consumption of this vitamin can also interfere with functioning of other antioxidants and develop the risk of chronic disease.
How to Prevent Overdose?
Be careful while giving vitamin drops to small kids and infants. Measure carefully using a dropper or measuring cup given with the supplement. Keep bright colored, chewable vitamins out of reach from children. Always read the composition carefully before taking any supplement to avoid exceeding the recommended dose. Talk to your doctor if you are taking any supplement on your own to avoid duplicity.