For many people, taking vitamin supplements is a way to provide the body with vitamins it may be deficient in. And, because they're vitamins, we rarely assume that they can pose any risk to our health. After all, the body thrives on vitamins, right?
Unfortunately, this type of thinking can get you into hot water. While vitamins are a natural and necessary part of human life, they can pose risks. Knowing these risks is essential in planning a healthy and helpful vitamin supplement plan, as well as in preventing health issues.
Vitamin supplements can, and do, have side effects. The FDA has received thousands of consumer reports on supplement side effects in the last five years, and these attest to the fact that supplements are not always harmless. In fact, these complaints included over a hundred deaths, and more than 2,000 hospitalizations, according to a 2012 CNN article. In addition to these severe cases, some side effects reported included fatigue, pain, liver issues, heart dysfunction, kidney issues, vomiting, body aches, and nausea.
It may surprise you to know that you can overdose on a vitamin. Some vitamin overdoses are more serious than others, but all should be avoided. Health professionals recommend that no individual ever exceed the recommended daily vitamin dosage (acquired through both food intake and supplementation) without the advice of a physician. Furthermore, many doctors agree that vitamin supplementation isn't actually necessary unless there is a diagnosed need for them. A legitimate need includes a vitamin deficiency or a prescribed natural treatment.
Symptoms of vitamin overdose may include nausea, stomach cramping, diarrhea, hair loss, fatigue, frequent urination, rapid heartbeat, headache, mood changes, dry skin, and nerve damage.
Upsetting the Body's Balance
Like most things in life, taking vitamins is all about balance. On one hand, you need vitamins to be healthy. On the other hand, too many vitamins can actually harm you. In fact, one study reported that high levels of vitamin E increased mortality rates. Other studies into antioxidant supplementation have found that taking excessive antioxidants can actually be harmful. Research has found that we need a balance of both antioxidants and free radicals, and that the elimination of too many free radicals can actually be harmful because free radicals are used in the body to kill bad bacteria and mutated cells.
All in all, the fragile balance of healthy vitamin levels and supplementation can be difficult. It's important to have your vitamin levels checked and evaluated. Your physician can help you create an optimal vitamin plan and help with dietary changes to avoid the need for supplements.