How Much is Too Much When it Comes to Supplements?

When it comes to vitamins and minerals, it's important to get the right amount. Too little can lead to deficiencies, while too much can be dangerous. But how much is too much? The upper tolerable level for most vitamins and minerals is 1,000 milligrams (1,500 IU), while the recommended daily dose is 30 IU. Vitamin D, calcium and folic acid are three nutrients that can be consumed in excess, especially through supplements.

However, adults who regularly exceed the safe daily maximum limit for vitamin D of 4,000 international units (IUD) could end up with serious heart problems. To get an idea of how many micro and macronutrients you're consuming, Dr. Bailey recommends using an app to track your eating habits during a normal week. The Department of Agriculture has one that is free called SuperTracker, he says. MyFitnessPal is another popular one. Once you know what you need most, the next logical step is to add vitamin supplements to your daily routine.

Supplements have labels that indicate how much of a recommended dietary dose needed, so that's where you can fill the gap, said Dr. Bailey says, adding that targeting 100 percent is a good barometer to follow. The problem arises when the percentage is not tracked. So what's the first physical indicator that you're getting too much of something? Dr. Bailey says that each nutrient has different warning signs, but the Office of Dietary Supplements has some pretty surprising fact sheets that describe everything in great detail. Taking too many vitamins, minerals and supplements can be hazardous to your health.

For example, high doses of vitamin B could cause hip fractures, study finds. People should always check the dosage of each supplement they take. But just because supplements are safe in moderation doesn't mean that the more the better. Combining several supplements or taking higher doses than recommended may increase the risk that they will actually cause harm, Kitchin says. In addition, since the industry is not well regulated, there is no real guarantee that the ingredients and dosage that appear on the label are accurate. Although there's no hard and fast rule, if you're consuming a true amount of vitamins from A to Z, Agnew says your body will send you signals to relax a bit.

However, too much other nutrients can create imbalances in the body, which can be serious if doses are too high. If you accidentally take two of your multivitamin on the same day, don't panic - you'll still be fine. It's more about taking too much of a supplement on a consistent basis, even if it's something like calcium that you know is key to your health. A new study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that calcium-rich foods may help protect heart health but calcium supplements may increase the risk of plaque buildup in the arteries and cause heart damage. Beyond that, there are other common supplements that experts say can be risky if taken in excess. Like calcium, potassium supplement overload is potentially problematic for your heart. The mineral has the function of regulating the heartbeat and its excessive intake can cause heart problems.

Vitamin A is another example of a seemingly excellent supplement that can wreak havoc on the body - while it may help maintain healthy vision and immune systems, vitamin A toxicity can cause hair loss, bone loss, confusion and even liver failure. Iron and zinc can easily build up in the body and cause several problems as well. The symptoms of overdoing it with a supplement vary depending on the vitamin or mineral but digestive problems are often the first sign that something isn't right - people can also experience nausea, vomiting, seizures or a rapid heartbeat. If you notice any of these symptoms and suspect that you may have taken too much supplement, stop taking it immediately and call your doctor. In fact, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor before taking any type of supplement - even if you don't take any medications and you're in good health. On the one hand, dietary supplements can sometimes interact with each other as well as with over-the-counter and prescription drugs. The key is to check the recommended daily allowance percentages in the different supplements you take; if your diet is quite healthy there's usually no reason for the total to exceed 100 percent. In addition some supplement ingredients such as caffeine powder and red yeast rice have been shown to be potentially dangerous even at low doses.

SELF does not provide medical advice diagnosis or treatment - so always consult a health professional before taking any action.

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