It is difficult to imagine that there could be associated dangers of vitamin supplements usage. This is because vitamins are generally seen as being good for you.
However, there may be lurking dangers of vitamin supplements associated with using too many or exceeding recommended dosages.
The dangers may be amplified in seniors and the elderly because of metabolic changes in the body with age. It is always best to discuss with your healthcare provider before taking any supplements.
Table of Contents
What are Dietary Supplements?
Many people use the terms “dietary supplements” and “vitamin supplements” interchangeably, but there is a slight difference.
In addition to vitamins, dietary supplements can contain minerals, herbs or other botanicals, amino acids, enzymes, and several other ingredients.
According to Wikipedia, dietary supplement is a manufactured product intended to supplement the users diet by taking a pill, capsule, tablet, powder, or liquid.
Supplements can provide nutrients extracted from food sources or that are synthetic in order to increase the quantity of their consumption. Multivitamins are the most commonly used product among types of dietary supplements.
Mineral supplements are essential requirements for the body in low doses. Common minerals include iron, selenium, calcium, chromium, copper, and zinc.
Benefits of Vitamins and Dietary Supplements – Cautionary Note
Dietary supplements help provide adequate amounts of essential nutrients if the user, for one reason or the other, does not eat a balanced and healthy diet which could provide necessary nutrients.
However, supplements should not replace eating the variety of foods that are important to a healthy diet. Healthy eating is always recommended. There are certain associated dangers of vitamin supplements when they are overused.
In aging adults, some well-known dietary supplements have been shown to improve overall health and benefit the management of certain health conditions.
The combination of vitamins C and E, zinc, copper, lutein, and zeaxanthin (known as AREDS) may slow down further vision loss in people with age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils is believed to be beneficial for heart health.
Composition of Dietary Supplements
All dietary supplements sold on the market are regulated and must have a “Supplement Facts label” listing the active ingredients, the amount per serving (dose), other ingredients, such as fillers, binders, and flavorings.
The product manufacturer usually suggests the recommended dose (amount per serving) based on clinical trials used for regulatory approval of the product.
This may not necessarily suit your physiological requirements, which is why it is always strongly recommended that you consult with your healthcare provider before buying a supplement “off the shelf”.
The dose recommended by the manufacturer may be inadequate, or it could be too high for you.
Forms of Dietary Supplements
Many adults take one or more vitamins or other dietary supplements. These supplements are sold in different forms such as tablets, gummies, capsules, powders, drinks, and energy bars.
Popular supplements on the market include vitamins A, D, B12; minerals like calcium and iron; herbs such as echinacea and garlic; and products like glucosamine, probiotics, prebiotics, and fish oils.
Dangers of Vitamin Supplements – Using Vitamin Supplements Above Recommended Doses
Almost all supplements contain active ingredients that can have negative side effects in the body if taken above the recommended dosage.
Side effects may also be caused by taking too many supplements which may interact with each other or with certain other medication.
Few people are aware that vitamins, minerals, and other supplement ingredients may be added to foods we eat especially breakfast cereals and beverages.
Unfortunately, taking additional doses in supplements mean that the intake amounts are higher than expected. It is important to keep this in mind.
VITAMIN D AND VITAMIN A
For instance, if you have too much vitamin D in your system, you might be causing yourself kidney damage.
Vitamin D is generally good for you but do not assume that although the supplement bottle recommends a daily dose of one a day that you will be better off and get better results by taking more than one tablet!
Unfortunately, this is not true as you will be causing harm to your body.
For example, too much Vitamin A can cause headaches and liver damage, reduce bone strength, and even result in death
VITAMIN C and VITAMIN E
Antioxidant supplements, such as Vitamins C and E, may interact with and reduce the effectiveness of certain types of cancer chemotherapy.
This Vitamin can reduce the ability of the blood thinner warfarin to prevent blood from clotting.
Taking regular doses of niacin generally causes a flushing and stinging sensation of the skin. This is natural, and a side effect that can be managed.
However, if you take too much supplemental niacin (B3), you could cause nausea and vomiting, skin flushing, high blood sugar levels, heart, and liver problems.
High doses of B6 can cause sensitivity to light, nerve damage, and painful skin lesions.
Dangers of Vitamin Supplements Exceeding Recommended Doses of Mineral Supplements
Mineral supplements can also be dangerous. Even if you are just increasing some of your mineral intact by a small amount, this could cause an imbalance in the ability of the body to use other types of minerals.
For example, an intake of more than just 5 times the recommended doses of supplements such as iron, chromium, zinc or selenium can result in a catastrophic event for your body.
Almost every kind of vitamin and mineral can end up being toxic if you take too much.
Excess iron intake causes nausea and vomiting and may also damage the liver and other organs.
Conclusion – Dangers of Vitamin Supplements
There are inherent dangers of vitamin supplements if the recommended daily dose is exceeded. Although vitamins and other supplements are generally beneficial, it is always a good idea to consult your healthcare provider before investing in any of them for your use.
- The Truth About Dietary Supplements – Fact vs Fiction
- How to Use Dietary Supplements Properly – Things to Know
- Health Benefits of B Vitamins – The Remarkable B Complex
- Top Dietary Supplements – How Do I Know Excessive Use Symptoms?
- Magnesium Supplement Benefits – How to Know The Use
- Different Forms of Magnesium Supplements – Which Is Best To Take?
- What Supplements Help Leg Cramps – The Best Ones
Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know. Fact Sheet for Consumers https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/WYNTK-Consumer/
Marc A. Ellsworth et al (2014) Acute Liver Failure Secondary to Niacin Toxicity Case Rep Pediatr. 2014: 692530. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3965920/
Misha F Vrolijk et al (2017) The vitamin B6 paradox: Supplementation with high concentrations of pyridoxine leads to decreased vitamin B6 function Toxicol In Vitro;44:206-212 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28716455/
Wikipedia. Dietary Supplement https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dietary_supplement