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Vitamin Abuse - The Unlikely Addiction

Updated on March 17, 2012
Vitamin Abuse: Is it an Addiction Killer as well?
Vitamin Abuse: Is it an Addiction Killer as well? | Source

Famous Starlet, Found Dead due to Drug Overdose!

Country Crooner alleged to have been killed by Heroin Addiction!

Caught in the Act! Former Child Star Abusing Pain Medications!

These are all too familiar headlines that run across every media outfit. It's a disturbing cry of attention where the troubled few found themselves under the critical eye of the society's cruel microscope. Substance abuse became more than a mere condition, it became a fad of the lonely and confused individuals who tried seeking something out of the wrong things.

Being proverbial, too much of the bad stuff can definitely lead to an equally disastrous bad outcome. Either you end up wasted and literally becoming your own worst enemy; or you end up facing Death squarely on his ominous face.

Surprisingly enough, it seems that even with the good stuff, too much of it can be dangerous and life-threatening. In world that is struggling against the gravitational pool of obesity and health hazards, some of the overly enthusiastic health buffs are unknowingly causing more harm than help to themselves. One of the good stuff that can be a potential threat upon abuse or excess intake is the seemingly "harmless" VITAMINS.

Hypervitaminosis
Hypervitaminosis | Source

THE CURIOUS CASE OF HYPERVITAMINOSIS

Simply stated, Hypervitaminosis is the the excess use of Vitamins beyond the recommended daily intake. Usually, the occurrence of the said condition arises from the misconception that having more (more Vitamins) is better and beneficial to health, but on the contrary, the misconception has led to an unlikely health problem. The symptoms of Hypervitaminosis varies according to the particular vitamin involved, and as observed, these symptoms or effects of the said condition can cause disturbing health problems, oftentimes leading to death if it is not given immediate remedy. As follows, this Hub will be giving a brief description of the signs and symptoms associated with the excess intake the enlisted vitamins.

Carrots! Lots of Beta-Carotene
Carrots! Lots of Beta-Carotene | Source

HYPERVITAMINOSIS A (Excess of Vitamin A)

CATEGORY: Fat-Soluble Vitamin

RDA FOR ADULTS: 700-900 micrograms; 1,300 micrograms for Pregnant and Breastfeeding Women.

SAFE UPPER LIMIT: 3,000 micrograms

SOURCES: Dark Green Leafy Vegetables, Yellow and Orange Vegetables and Fruits, Fatty Fish, Fish Liver Oils, Beef Liver, and Egg Yolk (to name a few).

BENEFITS:

  • Promotes good and healthy eyesight. Vitamin A serves an important function in the health and formation of the light-sensitive receptors (called Photoreceptors) found in the retina of the eye.
  • Promotes healthy skin and organ lining. Vitamin A shares in the work of maintaining a healthy skin and membranous lining of organs such as lungs, intestinal tract and urinary tract.
  • Helps fight against infection.
  • Assist in the strengthening of bones and connective tissues.

SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN A EXCESS

  • Acute Symptoms with Sudden Vitamin A Toxicity. Drowsiness, Irritability, Headache, Nausea and Vomiting, Blurred Vision, Decrease in Muscle Coordination.
  • Liver Problems. Patients diagnosed with Hypervitaminosis A were found to have liver problems and changes, in particular Liver Fibrosis. Liver Fibrosis is the formation of scar tissues as the liver's response to injury. Since the Liver functions as storage and for the metabolism of substances, it is expected that Vitamin A Toxicity will include liver damage as symptom since the liver metabolizes Vitamin A into retinoids for it to be absorbed by the body.
  • Angular Cheilitis. Also called Angular Stomatitis. This is the occurrence of inflammatory lesions, looking like deep cracks or ulcers, around the corner of the mouth.
  • Birth Defects. Pregnant women should be monitored about their Vitamin A intake to avoid and prevent birth defects on their babies.
  • Increase In Intracranial Pressure. Due to the affinity with the lipid component of the brain membranes, it is likely that the pressure within the brain will increase due to the accumulation of Vitamin A in the brain.
  • Hair Loss, Skin Peeling, Coarse Hair
  • Carotenosis. In layman's understanding, the patient will pretty much look like a carrot. Literally! It is a skin condition wherein the elevated Vitamin A levels in the body will cause the skin to turn orange in color.

TREATMENT: Discontinuation of Vitamin A supplements until Vitamin A levels in the body reach normal and symptoms subside.

Facing the Sun! Vitamin D for Skin Health.
Facing the Sun! Vitamin D for Skin Health. | Source

HYPERVITAMINOSIS D (Excess of Vitamin D)

CATEGORY: Fat-Soluble Vitamin

RDA FOR ADULTS: 200 IU (for 50 y.o. and younger), 400 IU (for 51 y.o. to 70 y.o.) and 600 IU (for 71 y.o. and older)

SAFE UPPER LIMIT: 2,000 IU

SOURCES:

  • VITAMIN D2 (Ergocalciferol): Vegetables, Foods fortified with Vit. D, Fatty Fish, Fish Liver Oil.
  • VITAMIN D3 (Cholecarciferol): Formed or synthesized by the body upon the skin's exposure with sunlight, hence the association of Vitamin D with the Sun.

BENEFITS:

  • Primarily assists the body in absorbing Calcium and Phosphorus from in the Intestinal Tract.
  • Assists in the Mineralization and Strengthening of Bones.

SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN D EXCESS:

  • EARLY SYMPTOMS: Loss of Appetite, Nausea and Vomiting, Excessive Thirst, Malaise, Nervousness and Tremors, and Increase in Blood Pressure.
  • HYPERCALCEMIA.Since Vitamin D is responsible for the absorption of Calcium, excess of Vitamin D would result as well to excess Calcium in the system, causing the formation of Calcium deposits in the Gallbladder, Kidneys and Blood Vessels.

Source

HYPERVITAMINOSIS E (Excess of Vitamin E)

CATEGORY: Fat-Soluble Vitamin

RDA FOR ADULTS: 15 milligrams (22 IU of the Natural; 33 IU of the Synthetic)*

SAFE UPPER LIMITS: 1,500 IU*

SOURCES: Leafy Vegetables, Egg Yolk, Legumes, Vegetable Oil, Wheat Germ

BENEFITS: Vitamin serves as an Anti-Oxidant that counters the harmful and damaging effects of Freed Radicals to our body.

SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN E EXCESS:

  • Bleeding Tendencies. Patients who have high levels of Vitamin E in their bodies were found to have an increased risk to bleeding, especially if they are taking anti-coagulants (Like Warfarin). Sometimes, in severe cases, some patients were found to experience Hemorrhagic Stroke.
  • EARLY SYMPTOMS: Muscle Weakness, Fatigue, Nausea, Vomiting and Diarrhea.

TREATMENT:

  • Discontinuing Vitamin E intake. In severe bleeding cases wherein Vitamin E is involved, Vitamin K is given to control the bleeding and help the body restore the blood components lost.

Niacin: For the metabolism of Carbohydrates and Fats
Niacin: For the metabolism of Carbohydrates and Fats | Source

HYPERVITAMINOSIS OF NIACIN (Excess of Niacin/Nicotinamide/Nicotinic Acid)

CATEGORY: Water-Soluble Vitamin

RDA FOR ADULTS: 14 milligrams (for Woment); 16 milligrams (for Men)

SAFE UPPER LIMITS: 35 milligrams

SOURCES: Liver, Fish, Whole Grains and Legumes, Cereals, Dried Yeast

BENEFITS:

  • Niacin is one of the essential for the metabolism and utilization of Carbohydrates, Fats (Lipids) and other Substances that will serve as nutrients and fuel for the body.

SYMPTOMS OF NIACIN EXCESS:

  • Hyperglycemia.
  • Flushing.
  • Itching.
  • Gout.
  • Liver Damage.


Neurons
Neurons | Source

HYPERVITAMINOSIS OF VITAMIN B6 (Excess of Pyridoxine)

CATEGORY: Water-Soluble Vitamin

RDA FOR ADULTS: 1.5 milligrams (for Women); 1.7 milligrams (for Men)

SAFE UPPER LIMIT: 100 milligrams

BENEFITS:

  • Essential for the metabolism of Amino Acids and Fatty Acids which are the building blocks of the body tissues, and in particular, for the healthy function of the Central Nervous System.
  • Serves as another help in the formation of Red Blood Cells.
  • Often controlled high doses of Pyridoxine is given as part of treatment regimen for Nervous System related conditions like Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Neuropathy.

SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN B6 (PYRIDOXINE) EXCESS

  • Pain and Numbness along the Feet and Legs.


Source

HYPERVITAMINOSIS OF FOLIC ACID (Excess of Folic Acid)

CATEGORY: Water-Soluble Vitamin

RDA FOR ADULTS: 400 micrograms

SAFE UPPER LIMIT: 1,000 micrograms

SOURCES:

  • Fresh Leafy Vegetables, Asparagus, Broccoli
  • Tomatoes, Citrus Fruits
  • Liver
  • Yeast, Enriched Bread, Cereals

BENEFITS:

  • Working hand in hand with Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin), Folic Acid serves in the formation and maturation of Red Blood Cells.
  • Takes part in the formation of DNA and RNA
  • Prevent the occurrence of Birth Defect (Neural Tube Defect) for Pregnant Women.

SYMPTOMS OF FOLIC ACID EXCESS:

  • Excess of Folic Acid will worsen Nerve Damage, with the accompaniment of Vitamin B12 Deficiency.


Vitamin C in Citrus Fruits
Vitamin C in Citrus Fruits | Source

HYPERVITAMINOSIS C (Excess of Vitamin C)

CATEGORY: Water-Soluble Vitamin

RDA FOR ADULTS: 75 milligrams (for Women), 90 milligrams (for Men), 35 milligrams (for Smokers)

SAFE UPPER LIMIT: 2,000 milligrams

SOURCE:

  • Citrus Fruits, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Cabbage, and Green Peppers.

BENEFITS:

  • Antioxidant. Much like Vitamin E, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) serves an Antioxidant that helps fight Free Radicals in the body.
  • Iron Absorption. Vitamin C also aids in the proper absorption of Iron in the body.
  • Another component that helps in the formation and strengthening of Bones and Connective Tissues.

SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN C EXCESS:

  • Vitamin C is not usually toxic, since as a Water-Soluble Vitamin, the excess is easily excreted from the body.
  • But excess of Vitamin can present symptoms such as Nausea and Vomiting.
  • Excess of Vitamin C can interfere or alter the interpretation of some Blood Test Results.


Source

A FEW WORDS OF CAUTION: HAVING MORE DOES NOT ALWAYS MEAN THE BEST

With the brief descriptions of how too much Vitamins can do to our health, it is imperative, as a hopeful wish, that people would take into consideration the measures and interventions they plan to incorporate in their lifestyles. Vitamins are not that bad. We need them. They serve a great deal of purpose and benefit for us as we strive to keep ourselves fit and healthy. But taking in more than what is required does not equate to more of the health benefits promised, and as tackled, Hypervitaminosis has been proven to be a crucial health risk and worst, to be a potential cause of demise.

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    • amymarie_5 profile image

      amymarie_5 5 years ago from Chicago IL

      Thank you so much for writing this hub. This information is so important. Many people think the more vitamins they take is good but it's not true at all. I've rated this up and useful and shared with my followers too.

    • My Nurse Says profile image
      Author

      My Nurse Says 5 years ago from Philippines

      @amymarie_5 - thanks for the comment and i'm glad that I have been of help to you. It's the unexpected fact about supplements that still demands our caution and wise choices. God bless you dear...

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Important topic. More is not always better and while many of the water soluble vitamins will be excreted in the urine, some are more dangerous than others and can cause harm such as what you listed. Voted up, useful and will SHARE.

    • Angela Brummer profile image

      Angela Brummer 4 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

      Truly interesting content. I was unaware of these dangers. Thanks for the education.

    • InTuneWithCooking profile image

      InTuneWithCooking 4 years ago from Australia

      Great Hub, very interesting, thanks. I hope you don't mind, I have shared this on my "InTuneWithCooking" Facebook page.

    • alipuckett profile image

      alipuckett 4 years ago

      This is an interesting and timely article for me. I started taking megadoses of my vitamins (in accordance with the label), and I thought I was doing a good thing for myself. I started getting a terrible acne breakout, and I've never had acne before! For months, I tried everything to get rid of it, and finally I realized, it was the vitamins! There are many studies that link an overdose of B12 to acne. As soon as I cut back on the dose, the acne went away.

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