The history of paying attention to vitamin levels dates back to the 1700s when Dr. James Lind decided to experiment with ways to help sailors in the Royal Navy who were experiencing extreme exhaustion, skin peeling, and hair and tooth loss. We now know, of course, that the sailors were suffering from scurvy due to a lack of vitamin C.
While advances in the awareness and treatment of vitamin deficiency have been crucial in the near eradication of diseases like rickets and scurvy, many people assume that they need more nutritional supplements than they actually do.
In 2002, the AMA (American Medical Association) reversed its stance on supplements, urging adults to take one multivitamin per day. Since that time, research has volleyed back and forth between demonstrating benefits and sometimes even harm (leading cancer expert Dr. Tim Byers recently reviewed 30 years of research and concluded that in some cases, too much folic acid, beta carotene, or vitamin E may increase the risk of certain types of cancers).
Considering that up to 75% of Americans are vitamin D deficient, and according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) there are nearly 400,000 iron deficiency (anemia) related hospital stays annually, clearly there is a balance that must be reached. Vitamin deficiency causes a myriad of health issues including cognitive impairment, some cancers, hypertension, and osteoporosis. Too many vitamins, however, can cause problems as well.
So how can you tell if you’re getting too many vitamins? For many nutrients, there are signs and symptoms of vitamin overdose.
Symptoms of Too Many Vitamins
Vitamin C: RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance, popularized to Recommended Daily Allowance) – 65-90mg. Maximum recommended daily intake – 2000mg.
This is one of the few vitamins that is actually water-soluble and therefore very difficult to overdose on because the extra gets flushed out of the body. Too much can cause you various unpleasant side effects but is unlikely to actually harm you.