The Difference Between Medications and Supplements
Overdose in medications is quite easy to prevent – do not take anything more than what your doctor has prescribed. For instance, taking too much of an antihypertensive drug could result in symptoms like a sudden drop in blood pressure.
Vitamins and minerals are quite tricky. Most people get them without a doctor’s prescription and many could buy them in retail. As we know, when we buy vitamins and minerals few pieces at a time (“tingi”), the little pamphlet that talks about the supplement is usually not included in the purchase. This reduces the person’s chance to learn details about the supplement, such as its recommended dosage and interactions.
Can You Overdose on Vitamins and Minerals?
Before we discuss which vitamins are toxic when taken in excess, let’s first define vitamin overdose.
An overdose happens when a person takes more than the recommended daily dose for an extended time. So, yes, you can overdose on vitamins and minerals.
Which Vitamins Are Toxic if Taken in Excess?
Here are common vitamins that Filipinos take that could be toxic when taken excessively.
The recommended daily amount of vitamin C (ascorbic acid, sodium ascorbate) is 60 to 90 mg. However, we have an upper limit of 2,000 mg daily. Too much vitamin C could result in symptoms like:
An overdose in B- vitamins is also possible. We have a total of 8 B- vitamins and some of them are “generally nontoxic.” Additionally, some form of vitamin B has no established upper limit.
- Vitamin B3 or Niacin. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for B3 is 9 mg for children aged 1 to 4 and 20 mg for adults. If you take more than 50 mg daily, you may experience skin flushing. Additionally, people with pre-existing liver conditions are at a higher risk of liver toxicity if they receive therapeutic doses of 1,500 to 1,600 mg daily.
- Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid. As of now, it is not known to be toxic to humans. Additionally, there is no established upper limit dose, but the recommended intake is 5 mg daily. Some people experience diarrhea with doses of 10 to 20 g per day.
- Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine. The RDA for adults 19 to 50 years old is 1.3 mg. It could potentially lead to neurotoxicity when taken at doses of 300 to 500 mg per day over extended time.
- Vitamin B12 or folic acid. For adult men and women, the RDA is 400 micrograms. If you are pregnant, however, the RDA may increase to 600 micrograms. A high dose of folic acid may result in loss of appetite, nausea, stomach problems, sleep problems, and skin reactions.
Best known for its antioxidant properties, the recommended intake of Vitamin E for adults is 15 to 20 mg or 22 to 30 IU. Although some people take large amounts for months and years without experiencing any consequence, there are still potential toxic effects associated with supplements, like: