Risks of Excessive Doses of Vitamins
While some people argue that the recommended daily intake levels of many vitamins are not high enough to keep illness at bay, there is no doubt that there are possible risks from taking excessive amounts of vitamins. It's very hard to take too much vitamins in from eating natural foods, but much easier to overdose on vitamin supplements. This has been highlighted by the recent trend to take 'mega-vitamins' - extremely high doses which are supposed to have specific health benefits but which can be very dangerous.
Most risky are the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), while taking very large amounts of water-soluble vitamins rarely causes toxic effects because these vitamins are simply washed out in the urine. However, adverse reactions to Vitamin C and Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) have been reported.
Specific risks are:
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
Action if Vitamin Overdose
If you think you have taken too much of any vitamin, don't panic. There is rarely any need for urgent action unless maybe if you have just swallowed a whole bottle full (in which case you should go to your local hospital emergency department or ring them to check procedures). In general most toxicity is the result of prolonged intake of high doses, and is often reversible. Stop taking the vitamins and talk to your doctor who can check you for possible side effects.
Note: Many vitamin supplements include a combination of vitamins and minerals in each tablet. Some supplements such as Iron can be very toxic if taken in excessive doses, and may need immediate treatment. Read the contents label on the bottle carefully and get expert advice from the emergency medicine department at your local hospital.
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