Too much of a good thing: can you overdose on vitamins and minerals?

If some is good, then more is better, right? Not when it comes to vitamins and minerals. There are 2 reasons why taking more than the recommended daily allowance (RDA; the amount recommended to prevent a vitamin deficiency) is not a good idea.

Reason 1: Higher doses don't add any proven benefits in people with MS. There is no evidence to suggest that high-dose vitamins and minerals help treat or cure MS.

Reason 2: High doses of vitamins and minerals can be dangerous, and too much of one vitamin or mineral can lead to deficiencies in another. Here are a few of the health problems that can be caused by vitamin and mineral overdoses:

  • Vitamin A: liver damage and increased pressure in the head
  • Vitamin B6: nerve damage
  • Vitamin C: stomach upset, diarrhea, and kidney stones
  • Vitamin D: too much calcium in the blood, liver damage
  • Vitamin E: blood disorders
  • Zinc: immune system stimulation (harmful in people with autoimmune diseases such as MS)

So how can you avoid a vitamin or mineral overdose? First, check the label or package insert to see how much of each vitamin or mineral the supplement contains, and how much the RDA is. Remember that you may be getting a double dose if you take 2 supplements that contain the some of the same vitamins or minerals. You will also get some vitamins and minerals from your diet.

It's generally safe to take one multivitamin per day (but check with your doctor to be sure that it is the right product for you). You won't usually have a problem with vitamin or mineral overdose unless you're taking multiple supplements and don't realize that some contain the same ingredients, or taking high doses without consulting your doctor.

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