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The Dangers of Vitamin Toxicity

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In the hustle and bustle of modern life, people are finding it ever more difficult to practice proper dietary habits. People are constantly running to and fro, and it leaves them little time for preparing nutritious meals and getting enough exercise. Vitamin supplements have long been an alternative method for introducing necessary dietary nutrients when a person has a vitamin deficiency. The modern multivitamin is a concoction of the most necessary basic nutrients, all in one handy little pill. This small wonder of modern clinical technology has completely changed the world by providing nutrients in parts of the world where healthy food and proper dietary ingredients are hard to procure, and by allowing people in developed countries to have a little more leeway with the food they eat and enjoy.

According to forty-four percent of Americans take a daily vitamin supplement of some kind. It is a common misconception taking more vitamins than are recommended will produce more desirable benefits, when the opposite is actually true. In 2007 the Poison Control Centers released a report citing over sixty-thousand instances of vitamin over-dosage in the United States. No deaths were attributed to vitamin toxicity from over-dosage or over-accumulation, and there appears to be no noticeable increase in the occurrence of vitamin toxicity, except in correlation with the size of the population. However, due to the availability of over-the-counter supplements, the average consumer is their own advisor when it comes to what to buy and where.

Vitamins, while not considered narcotics, can still be dangerous to the overzealous user. Problems arise when people start to think of vitamins as cure-alls, or begin to believe they can skimp in one area of their diet and make it up with vitamins in pill form.  There simply is no substitution for a balanced, well-rounded diet. According to Janis Jibrin, MS, RD, author of The Supermarket Diet, some vitamins such as the B and C groups, are fairly harmless, even in doses well above the recommended daily value. However, she points out some of the more popular vitamins, such as A, D, magnesium and zinc, can be extremely dangerous in too-potent amounts. An over-dosage of vitamin A has been shown to lead to an increase in the risk of hip fracture, nervous system and liver damage. While this has not been shown to have an immediate negative effect, the long-term effects can be disastrous and irreversible.

A balanced diet containing plenty of fruits and vegetables, as well as the recommended amounts of breads, meats, and limiting the amounts of fats and sugars is the only way to have a healthy eating plan. However, due to different reasons such as financial limitations or physical disparities, it can be difficult if not impossible for people to get all the nutrients they need. When a person finds they are lacking in some specific nutrient, they should have first discussed this with their doctor, and should then take a nutritional supplement based on recommendations from their physician. While the immediate effects of vitamin over-dosage have never been found to be fatal, long-term effects on the liver, nervous system, endocrine system and heart are cause for caution when taking dietary supplements.

When searching for the proper nutritional supplements, another fact to consider is the manufacturer and retailer of the vitamin. Who makes the vitamins? Where is the company located? Where are you purchasing them? All of these questions are very important when considering where to purchase your nutritional supplements. Remember vitamins are consumables, which is the same thing as food. If you would not purchase food at a certain retailer or from a certain manufacturer, then you would possibly want to reconsider purchasing vitamins from them as well. There are many reputable vitamin and supplement manufacturers and retailers who will provide quality products and knowledgeable service. It is worth the time and money to make sure you are getting a safe, quality product.

Remember, vitamins and nutritional supplements are not regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration, so if you are searching for reliable resources for safe nutritional supplements, it is best to check with your physician or wellness provider. You may be surprised to find there are many different ways to supply your nutritional needs every day you did not know about. Do research and find different foods you may have been unaware of that will meet your needs. A clinician will be able to accurately tell you what your needs are, and how you can best meet them, whether with supplements or with a change in diet.

Trina L. Grant is an award-winning health and wellness writer. You can find more information about health and wellness on her website, as well as more examples of Trina’s work.

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