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What Happens When a Water Soluble Vitamin Is Consumed in Excess?

by
author image Maria Parepalo
Maria Parepalo began writing professionally in 2006 and has published in medical journals as well as online. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in laboratory sciences from Helsinki Polytechnic in 2002 and is currently working on her doctoral degree in cell and molecular biology.
What Happens When a Water Soluble Vitamin Is Consumed in Excess?
A woman holding a vitamin and a glass of water. Photo Credit Alliance/iStock/Getty Images

Vitamins have essential functions in your body, so getting all nine water-soluble vitamins daily is important for your health. Water-soluble vitamins include vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, and the vitamin B complex vitamins: B1, B2, B3 or niacin, B5 or pantheonic acid, B6, B7 or biotin, B9 or folic acid and B12. Eating a complete diet consisting of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy and meats is a good way to ensure you are getting enough of all water-soluble vitamins.

Metabolism

Water-soluble vitamins differ from fat-soluble vitamins in that they are not stored in your body. When you consume high doses of water-soluble vitamins, your body will respond by removing any excess that is not needed; because they're water-soluble, they are easily eliminated from your body through urine. Since your body has a limited storage ability of water-soluble vitamins, you need to make sure you are getting the adequate daily amount of vitamin C and B complex from food on daily basis.

Vitamin C and Toxicity

Overconsumption of vitamin C can lead to toxicity when in very high doses. Symptoms of overconsumption include diarrhea, stomach upset, vomiting, heartburn, bloating, cramps and nausea. In serious cases, you can develop kidney stones. The recommended intake for vitamin C is less than 100 mg per day. But some supplements can contain 1,000 mg of vitamin C, especially if targeted to treat common cold. Doses higher than 2,000 mg are not advised, according to MayoClinic.com.

Vitamin B-Complex and Toxicity

Although uncommon, you can overconsume some B vitamins in high enough amounts that you will suffer from toxicity. Overconsumption of vitamins B1, B2, B5, B6, B7 and B12 does not cause any known symptoms, according to the Colorado State University. Overconsumption of B3, or niacin, can cause liver problems, cramps, nausea and irritability. Consuming high amounts of B9 can mask vitamin B12 deficiency and pernicious anemia.

Recommended Daily Intakes

You should get 75 to 90 mg of vitamin C daily if you are a healthy adult. Pregnant and breastfeeding women and people who smoke should get 35 to 40 mg more on daily basis The recommended dietary allowance or RDA, differs between the different B vitamins. You should get around 1.2 mg of B1, B2 and B6, 15 mg of B3 and 30 mcg of B7. Adequate intake values for vitamin B5 is 5 mg, 400 mcg for B9 and 2.4 mcg for B12.

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