Getting adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals in your diet is possible if you consume a variety of foods from all food groups. However, more than half of the adult population in the U.S. takes some kind of dietary supplement, according to Harvard Medical School. Multivitamins are the most common form of dietary supplements. If you decide to take any sort of supplement, talk with your physician first. Vitamins and minerals can be harmful when consumed in excessive amounts.
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Fat Soluble Vitamins
Fat soluble vitamins include A, D, E and K. These types of vitamins are broken down by fat and stored in your body. Because they are stored, they can be toxic if you have too much. Vitamin A is generally safe at high levels, but you should not consume more than 3,000 mcg daily. Too much vitamin A can cause a yellowing of the skin. Because vitamin D aids in calcium absorption, too much can lead to an overabundance of calcium in the body. Excessive vitamin D, more than 4,000 IU daily, might cause kidney damage or an irregular heartbeat. You shouldn't have more than 1,000 mg of vitamin E daily. While the exact risk of too much vitamin E is unknown, excessive amounts could strain your heart, increasing risk of death. Consuming excessive vitamin K might lead to permanent damage to cell membranes and liver problems. No toxic level has been set for vitamin K, but you only need 120 mcg per day for men and 90 mcg for women, notes the Linus Pauling Institute.
Water Soluble Vitamins
Water soluble vitamins are not stored in your body, and any extra amount is excreted. Vitamin C and all of the B vitamins, including riboflavin, niacin and folate, are water soluble. These vitamins have a low risk of toxicity. If you do consume too much, the most common health effects are gastrointestinal distress, such as diarrhea, nausea and cramping. These effects occur when unabsorbed nutrients travel through your digestive tract, while your body is trying to excrete them.
Minerals are stored throughout your body, meaning your risk of toxicity is high because little amounts are excreted. Iron in high amounts can cause cirrhosis of the liver and heart failure. The maximum amount of iron you should consume is 45 mg. Consuming more than 2,500 mg of calcium per day might lead to kidney dysfunction, kidney stones and problems with soft tissues. Zinc is a common over-the-counter treatment for colds, due to its ability to boost your immune system. Toxicity of zinc occurs when you have more than 40 mg per day, reports the Office of Dietary Supplements. Consuming large amounts of zinc at once causes vomiting, diarrhea and headaches. If you continuously ingest too much zinc, it might decrease the absorption of other minerals, as well as diminish the function of your immune system.
Benefits of Balanced Diet
You can get all of the essential vitamins and minerals you need without taking dietary supplements simply by having a balanced diet, in which you get all of the nutrients you need without having too much or too little of any one thing. Having an unbalanced diet can lead to impaired nervous system function, problems with tissue maintenance or abnormal growth and development. Balance your diet by eating as many different types of foods as possible, controlling your food portions and spreading your meals out throughout the day. Colors often represent various vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. If your plate looks bland and beige, adding a sprinkle of fresh herbs or slices of red pepper includes beneficial nutrients.