Vitamins and minerals are highly important for the body to function at maximum efficiency. They provide a wide variety of different roles in the body and can help everything from our immune system to our bone density to the oxygen levels in our blood.
For that reason many people will go out of their way to try and get as many vitamins as possible – by drinking fruit drinks, eating fruits and taking various supplements. In theory that’s great, but what’s important is that you be careful to avoid overdosing at the same time. Although they’re good for you, like anything they are only good in moderation and it is critical that you don’t over-do your vitamin intake. Here we will look at why it’s important to avoid vitamin overdose, and how to avoid it happening.
Symptoms of Vitamin Overdose
Having too many vitamins can be bad for your body in several ways and is called ‘hypervitaminosis’ or vitamin poisoning. For instance overdosing in vitamin B6 can lead to nerve damage – causing your extremities to feel tingly and eventually preventing you from feeling or moving them properly. Too much vitamin A meanwhile can cause hair loss, liver problems, reduced bone density, dryness and itching and more. Vitamin C meanwhile when taken in large quantities can have a laxative effect which can lead to dehydration and other issues. It also results in a nausea and sickness, sores inside the mouth, kidney stones, loss of breath and mineral deficiency. The list goes on.
RDA and UL
Avoiding vitamin overdose then is crucial but it’s not always that easy and not as simple as you might hope. Though there are many guidelines in place, none of these are set in stone and there are also several you need to look out for.
When you read the packet of your current vitamin supplement it will probably tell you how much of a vitamin you are getting in terms of ‘RDA’. This stands of ‘Recommended Daily Allowance’ and in other words this is a minimum amount of that vitamin to be taking – the amount that the body needs to operate. This then is not the maximum you can take. You may well find that your current multivitamin boasts that it provides you with ‘130% RDA’ or even ‘200% RDA’ and you could find that alarming until you take into account that the RDA is just a recommendation for how much you need and not an ‘upper limit’.
There is however an upper limit, and that is called the ‘UL’. This is an abbreviation for ‘Tolerable Upper Intake Level’. If you exceed this then you are in danger of overdosing. To give you an idea of what the difference is between your RDA and your UL – for vitamin C the RDA is 90 milligrams for men and 70 milligrams for women. However the UL is 1,800 milligrams. In this case then the maximum is 20 times the minimum.
This might make you feel that it is quite safe to eat copious amounts of vitamin C and E and not worry too much about it – however that’s not really a good idea when you consider how much you often get.
For instance if you were to take vitamin C tablets then you might also be eating a lot of fruit and vegetables and drinking lots of fruit drinks. Meanwhile you’ll also find that there is vitamin C in protein shakes and a lot of other supplements – suddenly you are getting closer to the UL.
In general you’ll be safe, but what you mustn’t do is to take lots of extra supplements and to ignore the guidelines. If the packet says ‘1 tablet daily’ then do not exceed this dosage. Recognize too that a higher RDA on a multivitamin is not always a good thing. Likewise you should not binge on fruits and eat lots of them in one go just because you have a cold or want more energy – it doesn’t work like that and too much of anything can be harmful.
Finally you need to be very careful when combining multiple supplements. This is true in particular of vitamin B6. One of the many roles of vitamin B6 is to help your body to get the energy out of carbs. Thus this, along with vitamin C, can make you feel fresher and more energetic after taking a supplement. Meanwhile, listing lots of vitamins on the back of everything is great for sales and people tend to lap it up.
In other words manufacturers of supplements have a tendency to fill their products with vitamins even when they are not relevant to the supplement itself. Protein shakes, energy drinks, creatine, NO2, multivitamins, health drinks, testosterone boosters and more… all of them contain B6 regularly and if you are taking a bodybuilding ‘stack’ or are an athlete then it’s easy to overdose by accident.