Nutrition tons of pills

Published on May 30th, 2013 | by Joe Starks


Are you Crazy?! Supplement Overdose Symptoms!

In 1905 it was discovered that if you take away certain substances from food your health declines rapidly. The most important of those substances were called vitamins and today scientists agree that there are 13 vitamins the human body can’t live without. This discovery brought about an era of dieticians and doctors trying to get everyone to eat their vitamins. All that sounds perfectly reasonable until you hear that in our modern times more people in developed countries suffer from overdoses of vitamins than from deficiencies!

You never hear anymore that your neighbor has scurvy, which comes from vitamin C deficiency, or that he/she suffers from pelagra, which you get from consuming too little niacin. So why do we need supplements? Why are many of our foods fortified? How dangerous is it to consume too many vitamins and minerals?

What does overdosing on supplements do to you?

Taking in too much of any vitamins and minerals can cause a whole bunch of problems. It is important to note that it is extremely hard to overdone on any mineral or vitamin by eating plain old food. There exist only a few exotic types of food that can cause overdoses. Polar bear liver has too much vitamin A for us and Brazil nuts contain too much selenium if you consume an ounce of them. There aren’t high chances you will feast on Brazil nuts and polar bear liver soon, so let’s look at the real culprits behind vitamin and mineral overdoses in the developed world.

You see them on almost every shelf in the super market: fortified foods. There is milk rich in calcium, corn flakes that contain more iron and cookies enriched with vitamins B12 (among many more similar products. Eating a portion of any of these won’t harm you in the least. It might actually be beneficial if by any chance you are lacking in and of those nutrients. Yet if you eat fortified corn flakes with fortified milk, a fortified snack later and more fortified goodies for dinner you might be going way above your daily recommended intake of those substances.

Then there are also supplements that you can buy in any pharmacy. These are usually pills that contain most, if not all, necessary vitamins and minerals in them. They contain from 30% up to a 100% of your daily recommended need of these substances. This means that if you eat 50% of the vitamins you need from your diet and take a 100% supplement you will overdose by 50%. Overdosing once in a while might not harm you at all, you body will simply remove the substances in time or use them later, but if your overdosing is a daily occurrence then you will get ill.

Symptoms of vitamin or mineral overdoses include:

  • Increased urine output, increased need for urination and cloudy urine.
  • Sensitivity to light, cracking lips and eye irritation.
  • Irregular and/or rapid heartbeat.
  • Bone, joint and muscle pain, as well as muscle weakness.
  • Confusion, irritability, fainting, fatigue, headache, mood changes and mental changes.
  • Itching, yellow-orange patches of skin, flushing, hair loss and sun sensitivity.
  • Appetite loss, constipation, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and weight loss.

There are two types of overdose, the acute one and the chronic overdose. Chronic overdoses happen over time, little by little, and may take long to reveal any symptoms. Acute overdoses happen when you take an extremely large dose very quickly, for instance if you eat a whole bottle of supplement pills.

What to do if you overdose on supplements?

If you suffer from a mild chronic overdose you usually only need to cut down on supplement intake and everything will be back to normal in time. If your chronic overdose has reached dangerous levels you should visit the hospital and get professional help.

If you get an acute overdose you should immediately call the center for poisonings and follow their instructions. Do not self-medicate or throw up unless you are told to do so by the poisoning center.


Do not just take supplements because you think it is a neat idea. Very few people living in the developed world really need that much extra vitamins and minerals in their diets. If you worry you are deficient you should first get your doctors approval before buying any supplements. Remember that fortified food can be a source of excess vitamin and mineral intake too. Instead of worrying and improvising when it comes to your diet’s balance, make sure you are right in your fears by getting a doctor’s advice.


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