Peruse social media, open a magazine or turn on the TV and you’re bound to see and hear someone pushing supplements, vitamin, mineral and herbal. These supplements promise to restore your vitality, make your hair and nails grow like crazy, improve your skin and restore your libido. And that’s just the advertisements. Plenty of talk shows and so-called professionals give testimony to the wonders of supplements.
While most of us can and do benefit from supplementing our diets with a multivitamin it is possible to get too much of a good thing. A recent article published by CNN described how a man ended up extremely ill and hospitalized after taking a nutritionist-recommended dose of 150,000 IU of vitamin D. That’s a staggering amount and far exceeds the RDA of 600 IU (800 IU for those over 70).
High amounts of any vitamins are toxic, especially when the dose so drastically exceeds the RDA. In the height of the recent pandemic, many Americans upped their intake of vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D and an array of herbal supplements. The common belief was that they upped their immunity by upping their intake of immune-boosting vitamins and supplements. The truth? They were potentially making themselves sick.
Many Americans don’t get enough vitamin D. Your body produces Vitamin D with the help of direct exposure to the sun. Concern for skin cancer, work schedules, inclement weather, among other factors, prevent many of us from spending enough time outdoors. Additionally, things like smog, dark skin and older age reduce the amount of vitamin D your body makes.
And vitamin D is necessary to good health. If you don’t have enough of this necessary vitamin, your body can’t absorb calcium. D is also necessary for muscle function, brain cell activity and a healthy immune system.
There are many vitamin D-fortified foods such as dairy milk, yogurt, orange juice, plant milks and breakfast cereals among them. Fatty fish like mackerel, salmon, trout and tuna are also good sources of vitamin D. Pay attention to the labels of your favorite foods and take note of the amount of vitamin D they contain.
When taking supplements proceed with caution and talk to your doctor. Too much vitamin D causes some very unhealthy symptoms, such as:
- Muscle Weakness
- Loss of Appetite
- Excessive Urination
- Excessive Thirst
- Kidney Stones
Extremely high levels of vitamin D cause some truly frightening conditions like kidney failure, irregular heartbeat and even death. It’s important to note that the only way to get too much vitamin D is through ingesting supplements. Too much sunlight or salmon or cereal and milk do not cause you to develop toxic levels of vitamin D.
Folic Acid and Other Common Supplements Can Be Toxic Too
Of course, there are specific nutrients which are highly important for women of childbearing age. Folic acid, for instance, prevents brain and neural tube birth defects like spina bifida. Companies add folic acid to many products you consume every day. White flours, pasta, cereals, breads, rice are all fortified with folic acid and consuming dark leafy greens, beans, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, fresh fruits and seafood provide naturally occurring folic acid called folate. The push for women trying to conceive to get sufficient folic acid brought down the number of birth defects by 25% to 50%.
Getting too much folic acid is a concern. For one thing it masks a deficiency on vitamin B12. Left untreated, a B12 deficiency may lead to nerve damage and certain anemias may go undetected for lack of symptoms. High levels of folic acid may speed up age-related mental decline and slow brain development in children. And some studies link over-supplementing with folic acid to a recurrence of certain cancers in patients who were previously diagnosed with such cancers.
Vitamin C in large doses exceeding the RDA leads to some very unpleasant side effects, including digestive upset like heartburn, reflux, diarrhea and nausea. Some studies link supplementing with high amounts of vitamin C to development of kidney stones. It was a longhand belief that you couldn’t overdose on vitamin C as it is water soluble, and excess would come out in your urine. This isn’t necessarily true.
Plenty of people take zinc with vitamin C as an immune booster. Taking zinc in large amounts is dangerous, however. From unpleasant digestive issues such as diarrhea, nausea and vomiting to flu-like symptoms, copper deficiency, frequent infections, anemia, changes in your ability to taste and lowering your HDL (good) cholesterol.
Other supplements also do damage in excessive amounts. Selenium, often taken for its antioxidant properties, may cause damage to the heart, kidneys and liver when overdosed. In addition to the risk of kidney stones, too much calcium weakens your bones and interferes with your heart and brain function. Excessive amounts of vitamin A puts you at risk for headaches, vision problems, muscle pain, dizziness and possibly lead to coma and death. However, if you are pregnant, an excess of vitamin A may cause liver toxicity and birth defects in your developing fetus. Please talk to your doctor before taking anything that may put you or your baby at risk.
Your Doctor Knows What’s Safe
While certain supplements are toxic in amounts exceeding the RDA, there are specific supplements that aid in overall wellness, including reproductive health. You may think it wise to bone up on supplements in order to ensure the proper nutrients. Don’t take anything, including vitamins and supplements of any kind, without your doctor’s knowledge and permission.
For more on staying healthy while undergoing treatment for infertility, or any other concerns you may have, contact LA IVF. Our team understands you want the best for your future baby. We partner with you on your journey to ensure your good health and wellness from day one.