Dietary supplements: what overdoses are dangerous

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Dietary supplements can also be harmful to health if taken in too large quantities. Countless people are affected without knowing it.

1/8Vitamin E should never be taken long term and without a doctor’s recommendation. Anyone who ignores this risks gastrointestinal problems and an increased risk of bleeding. The maximum tolerable daily dose is 300 mg per day, according to the European Food Safety Authority. At the same time, the consumer care center warns that the frequency of hemorrhagic strokes (brain hemorrhage) increases with doses of 130 to approximately 200 mg per day. © Dasha Petrenko/Imago
Close-up vitamin D tablets
2/8An overdose of vitamin D can be problematic. “Excessive intake of vitamin D causes an increase in calcium levels in the body (hypercalcemia), which can cause nausea, loss of appetite, abdominal cramps, vomiting or, in severe cases, kidney damage, cardiac arrhythmias, loss of consciousness and death. . Since vitamin D can be stored in the body, both acute and gradual overdose are possible,” states the Robert Koch Institute. © Imago
Nutritional supplement tablets next to two mortars
3/8Vitamin B6 can be taken individually, but also in the form of combined dietary supplements. An overdose damages the nervous system. As a result, those affected suffer from an unsteady gait, which may be associated with falls. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) recommends a maximum amount of 3.5 milligrams per day for adding vitamin B6 in the form of dietary supplements. © Imago
The woman drinks a vitamin B12 solution.
4/8Some people take vitamin B12 in the form of liquid supplements. The same applies in this case: only take the preparation if your doctor recommends it. Otherwise, serious side effects are possible. As the NDR reports, current studies show that elevated levels of vitamin B12 in the blood may be associated with an increased risk of lung cancer. According to the BfR, an overdose of vitamin B12 is likely to occur if more than 25 micrograms of this vitamin are taken per day via dietary supplements. © Imago
Vitamin 3 pills arranged to form the term “B3”.
5/8Taking vitamin B3 (also nicotinic acid or niacin) in excessive doses can harm your health. Heartburn, headache, diarrhea and stomach pain are signs of an overdose. Life-threatening drops in blood pressure and liver damage are also possible consequences. According to Techniker Krankenkasse, niacin deficiency practically does not occur with a normal diet. The maximum critical amount of 35 milligrams per day can hardly be reached with food alone. © Imago
The man holds nutritional supplements in his hand.
6/8Many people take vitamin A daily in the form of dietary supplements. An overdose can reduce bone stability. Pregnant women are at greater risk of harming their fetus. For adults, the maximum daily dose of vitamin A (from all sources) is 3,000 micrograms, according to the Consumer Advisory Center. There is no such recommendation for provitamin A because an overdose of this nutrient does not cause any symptoms. ©Michael Bihlmayer/Imago
Calcium effervescent tablets.
7/8Calcium is extremely harmful in excessive doses. Anyone who overdoses on this mineral in the form of dietary supplements is at risk of having a heart attack. This is stated by the professor of pharmaceutical nutrition from Lübeck, Martin Smollich, in an interview with the knowledge portal Spektrum: “The risk clearly increases from a daily dose of more than 1,500 milligrams of calcium.” © Vlad Ispas/Imago
Checkup: results of a blood test.
8/8Both potassium deficiency and excess potassium in the blood must be treated. The latter can be fatal. According to the German Nutrition Society, the possible consequences of a potassium overdose are intestinal obstruction, muscle weakness and paralysis, lung failure and cardiac arrhythmias. As a general rule, no more than five to six grams of potassium per day are consumed through diet, he adds. If kidney function is intact, this amount is harmless. © Rüdiger Rebmann/Imago

To maintain a healthy lifestyle, many people turn to nutritional supplements. But so-called miracle pills can carry dangers. Health problems are possible if the preparations are taken without medical supervision. And your wallet suffers too. Because the costs of pills and dragees add up quickly.

An overdose of seemingly harmless vitamins and minerals can cause serious symptoms. Instead of the expected increase in vitality, nausea, headaches and even long-term health problems may appear. The body needs a balanced ratio of nutrients and excess can seriously upset this balance.

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A healthy lifestyle prevents deficiency symptoms

Healthy adults who maintain a healthy lifestyle and eat a balanced diet usually obtain all the important nutrients. Dietary supplements should only be taken if recommended by a doctor due to a proven deficiency. This can manifest itself through various symptoms. Find out here what signs may indicate a nutrient deficiency.

This article only contains general information on the respective health topic and is therefore not intended for self-diagnosis, treatment or medication. In no case does it replace a visit to the doctor. Unfortunately, our editorial team cannot answer individual questions about medical conditions.

This article was created with mechanical assistance and was carefully reviewed by editor Juliane Gutmann before publication.

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