Vitamins: How much is too much

I recently wrote about addiction and how to conquer those demons. Sadly addiction is often associated with the word overdose. Think about that word. What comes to mind when you think of overdose? Drugs, alcohol… but do you ever think of overdosing on vitamins? Yeah, me neither until I saw this segment on’s TODAY show health program.

Well, anything is bad if you have too much. There is such a things as “too much of a good thing.” The doctors are talking less about an actual overdose. But more that people are trying so hard to get vitamins that they are getting too many vitamins. And too many vitamins can actually be more harmful.

According to the story, more than half of Americans are taking supplements. Supplements are vitamins that you take in addition to the vitamins you are getting from food. Supplements can be a great way to get vitamins if you are not able to eat certain foods with vitamins. For example, those who are lactose intolerant have the potential to have calcium deficiency.

However, those who regularly consume dairy might go over the daily recommended limit which is 1,000 milligrams per day. If you regularly eat dairy products, you will reach that goal in no problem. Think about milk on your cereal (and it is even more if you eat cereal that is 100% fortified with calcium. You have your daily total right there). But other nondairy foods also can provide calcium like broccoli. And on top of that, many people will pop in an herbal supplement or vitamin, just to cap it all off.

So what is so bad with having too much calcium? It is good for you, right? Well, too much calcium in your diet can lead to the same problems that having too little calcium in your diet leads to: fatigue, irritability and even kidney stones. (yikes.)

The article also mentions having too much Vitamin D. In the summer vitamin D is easier to come by naturally because of the sun. (However, you don’t get vitamin D if you are wearing sunscreen, but you tend to get more sun like in the car when you are not wearing sunscreen for it to soak in.) Vitamin D can be found in many foods, but it is easy to overload if you are taking supplements, especially during the winter. Too much vitamin D, just like calcium, can have the same affects that not having enough.

So how can you determine what right amount of vitamins works for you? Whip out that trusty health insurance company card and schedule an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor can test your blood to find out what vitamins you are deficient in. Take in a realistic meal plan so you and your doctor can evaluate what you are eating, where you are getting vitamins, and how you can make up for any deficiencies with herbal supplements. Be mindful that any new health plan is best planned with some expert advice.