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March 16, 2017

Can you overdose on vitamins?

Prevention Vitamins

Content sponsored by IBC - Native (195x33)

Various Vitamins on Table

Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. Even our life source, water, can kill us if we drink too much of it (yikes!). According to Medscape, the majority of Americans consider vitamins safe, and that belief can lead people to overdose.

What does an overdose on vitamins look like?

It’s more difficult to overdose on vitamins when obtaining them through food, so don’t freak out about eating too much spinach. Most vitamin overdoses, although still uncommon, are from supplements. Be mindful if you take these vitamin supplements as part of your daily routine:

Vitamin D

There’s a lot of talk about vitamin D deficiency, aka deprivation of “the sunshine vitamin.” Vitamin D regulates the calcium and phosphorus in our bones, and without it, we would have the body of Gumby coupled with osteoporosis.

While a vitamin D overdose is very rare, it can cause permanent damage to your kidneys and heart. Additionally, overdosing on the vitamin while pregnant has been shown to increase the risk of birth defects in babies. Usually, these symptoms occur only when ingesting vitamin D, as opposed to absorbing it from sunlight. While excess time in the sun can cause third-degree burns, dehydration and even death, a vitamin D overdose from the sun is unlikely.


Although iron deficiency has gained more attention in recent years due to people pursuing 
a vegan or vegetarian diet without eating enough iron-rich plants, iron overdose is also a serious concern. Iron overdoses are one of the most severe forms of vitamin and mineral overdoses. The symptoms of iron overdose are serious, with potential for long-term damage.

While iron is necessary for red blood cells and preventing anemia, it is one of the leading causes of fatal poisoning in kids younger than 5. This is the main reason iron isn’t put in children’s gummy vitamins. Iron overdoses can happen in kids if they take adult multivitamins, so make sure you separate your vitamins from your children’s!


Selenium is popular for its antioxidant properties and can be found in foods like Brazil nuts, yellowfin tuna and canned sardines. However, more than 400 micrograms of selenium a day is considered an overdose, which can manifest as hair loss, gastrointestinal upset, fatigue and mild nerve damage.

What do you do if you suspect a vitamin overdose?

Perhaps the best way to prevent a vitamin overdose is to get sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals from your food. Many people have an unwholesome diet and believe taking supplements will make up for it. In reality, this is far from the truth, especially because our bodies prefer food to supplements. A good tip to get the max number of vitamins out of your vegetables is to not cook them, as it can deplete your vegetables of their full nutritional value.

However, some people have dietary restrictions and can’t get all their nutrients from food, necessitating supplements, and thus exposing them to a higher risk of overdose.

If you think you’re consuming excess vitamins and your health issues aren’t life-threatening or life-altering, simply reduce or discontinue the use, and seek your nutrients from a healthier, plant-based diet. If your health needs require you to start taking vitamins, it might be worth it to consult a nutritionist or, at least, chat up the salespeople at your local vitamin shop for further guidance.

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information on this web site is for general information purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or health care provider on any matters relating to your health.

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