Vitamins are vital to healthy body function as well as to warding off certain diseases, but could you be taking too many vitamin supplements? “Vita” comes from the Latin word for life. Our bodies can’t create the vitamins we need for life by themselves, so we need to get them from outside sources, namely food or supplements. The World Health Organization says that the body uses vitamins to synthesize hormones and chemicals.
Are Vitamin Supplements Safe?
As long as the total amount of one vitamin does not exceed the Recommended Daily Dose, you should be fine. If you are taking many different supplements, you need to read the labels. Look at the percentages listed across from the vitamin, and make sure that you aren’t taking more than 100 percent of the recommended daily dose of any of the fat-soluble vitamins. Taking more of the water-soluble vitamins shouldn’t be a problem for your body.
Which Vitamins Are Fat-Soluble?
A vitamin is fat soluble when it dissolves in fat and is carried by fat throughout the body. Because our fat stores these vitamins, taking more than the recommended amount can be dangerous. Our bodies can overdose on these vitamins:
- Vitamin A: Women should be getting about 800 micrograms a day, while men should shoot for 1000. Vitamin A is good for our immune system, eye sight and for our skin. Taking more than 15,000 micrograms a day can be toxic. Signs that our bodies are getting too much vitamin A are: brittle nails, dry, itchy skin, headaches, fatigue and blurred vision.
- Vitamin D: Our bodies can make their own vitamin D with about 15 minutes of sun exposure a day. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and phosphorus. Adults up to age 50 should be getting about 5 micrograms a day, while the amount jumps to 10 micrograms a day if you’re over 50. Your supplements should not exceed 50 micrograms per day.
- Vitamin E: Women should not be ingesting more than 400 mg per day.
- Vitamin K: Women over 24 should be getting 60 micrograms a day. Exceeding the recommended amount can cause interference with anti-clotting medications.
Which Vitamins Are Water-Soluble?
Vitamin C and all the B vitamins, with the exception of B12, are water-soluble. This means the body distributes them through the bloodstream, and they dissolve in water. If you get too much, what the body can’t use will simply be excreted through the urine. Although the body can get rid of the extra stuff, taking too much over a long period of time can cause damage. Try to shoot for the daily recommended amount for all your vitamins.
Most of the problems listed above have to do with taking more than the daily recommended amount over a period of time, but there are serious risks associated with overdose. Taking too much calcium or iron at once poses the most serious danger. If you take too many vitamin supplements at once, you should call emergency or the poison control center.
Vitamins for Health
Ideally, you should be getting the majority of your vitamins from whole foods, but when you fall short, vitamins are a good backup. Make sure to read the labels of all your vitamin supplements and ensure that you are not exceeding the recommended daily amount, and you shouldn’t have any problems.