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What is Vitamin Poisoning?

By Laura Evans
Updated May 17, 2024
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When a person overdoses on vitamins, the person is said to be experiencing hypervitaminosis or vitamin poisoning. Hypervitaminosis occurs when a person consumes too much of one or more vitamins. Symptoms of vitamin poisoning vary according to the type of vitamin that was taken in excess, but can include irritability, bone damage, anorexia, and irregular heart beat.

Vitamins are either water soluble or fat soluble. Water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C and vitamin B complex, dissolve in water and are carried throughout the body. The body takes what it needs to use of these vitamins and the excess is sent out of the body in urine. Because water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body, people should consume water soluble vitamins on a daily basis.

Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body in the body's fat. Vitamins A, E, D and K are all fat soluble. These vitamins can be built up in the body to toxic levels.

Vitamin poisoning can occur over time or can be the result of taking mega doses of vitamins at once. Hypervitaminosis typically occurs with the fat soluble vitamins because these vitamins can accumulate in the body. While less common, people can overdose on vitamins C and B complex when the vitamins are consumed in large amounts.

Symptoms of vitamin D hypervitaminosis are the result of abnormally high levels of calcium in the bloodstream. These high levels of calcium can result in nausea, irritability, and confusion. Ultimately, people may experience damage to the kidneys, damage to bones, and heart beat irregularities. Treatment may be as simple as reducing calcium intake and stopping vitamin D intake. When vitamin D toxicity levels are high enough, people can require hospitalization.

Hypervitaminosis vitamin A symptoms can be acute, happening over a short period of time, or chronic, occurring over a long period of time. Symptoms can include headache, dizziness, and tiredness. Eye and liver damage are two of the severe symptoms of vitamin A poisoning. This type of vitamin poisoning can also lead to intrahepatic cholestasis, a condition that inhibits the flow of bile from the kidneys to the intestines.

Cases of Vitamin E overdose are rare. Symptoms can include diarrhea or nausea. Unsafe dosages of vitamin E may also lead to excessive bleeding or can inhibit normal kidney functions.

Vitamin poisoning is easy to avoid. People who eat a variety of foods will typically get the proper amounts of vitamins that they need in order to live a healthy life on a day to day basis. A person should consult a physician if he believes he is experiencing a vitamin deficiency.

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Discussion Comments
By Hazali — On Sep 20, 2014

Reading this article is both alarming and intriguing at the same time. While it does show how beneficial vitamins are in order for us to live a healthy life, on the other hand, it also shows the unfortunate and dangerous side effects that can derive from one overdoing it. This is one of the reasons why I prefer natural vitamins instead of the synthetic kind. Since many of the vitamins that we eat come in so many forms, and when eating it in food, it's not processed and synthesized, it's a lot safer to consume than having a daily intake. With the exception of vitamin C, I feel that people should only intake daily doses of vitamin A if they really need it.

By Krunchyman — On Sep 20, 2014

@Chmander - While you do make a good point about synthetic vitamins as opposed to natural vitamins, there is one exception to this rule, and that would be vitamin C. Not only can you buy the natural flavors, but even more so, whether you buy the natural kind in a bottle, or decide to drink orange juice to get your daily dose, it wouldn't make much of a difference.

The reason for this is because it's actually possible to have natural vitamin C compressed into edible forms, as opposed to vitamin A. On a final note, the best thing about Vitamin C is that unlike other vitamins, it's not possible to overdose. Not that you should eat one bottle in a day, but it all comes out in your waste, and you don't have to worry about all the scary side effects that come along with the others, which store into your body.

By Chmander — On Sep 19, 2014

In relation to the picture on the left, one thing I've noticed is that it said you can't get vitamin A toxicity from eating too many carrots. It's barely touched upon in the article, but my guess is that it's due to the fact that the vitamins that you get from fruits and vegetables are all natural, as opposed to the ones that come from a bottle, which are more synthetic, and have to be compressed into capsules. Overall, I've never been too fond of taking vitamins, and prefer eating and drinking the proper things to get the proper nutrients that I need. While there's nothing especially wrong with taking vitamins and pills, they could come with many side effects, and aren't always the real thing, so to speak.

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