Why Do Vitamins Make You Sick?

Although it's best to get all the nutrients you need through a well-rounded, nutritious diet, it may be necessary to take vitamins if you are deficient in certain nutrients. Those vitamins are supposed to make you feel better, relieving any symptoms of a deficiency you may have been experiencing. But some people may feel sick to their stomach or nauseous after taking vitamins. Another danger is toxicity from taking megadoses of certain vitamins. To avoid these problems, speak to your doctor about how much of and when to take your vitamin.

A young woman is feeling nauseous. (Image: Medioimages/Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Iron is to Blame

Many multivitamin supplements are actually multivitamin and mineral supplements. This might mean that it might not be a vitamin but, perhaps, a mineral that's making you feel sick. The mineral iron, for example, can cause stomach cramps, diarrhea and nausea, according to MedlinePlus. If this is the case, look for a vitamin supplement without iron, if your doctor says you don't need extra. If you do need the iron, MedlinePlus suggests taking the supplement with food to minimize stomach upset.

You're Taking Too Much

Taking megadoses of vitamins can make you sick. This is especially true for fat-soluble vitamins, because your body does not excrete excess in your urine as it does with water-soluble vitamins. Instead, levels build in your body and cause side effects, although you'd have to take quite a lot to experience this. According to the Merck Manual's website, nausea and diarrhea are symptoms of toxicity for vitamins A, D and E. To prevent this, don't take more than the recommended daily intake. For vitamin A the recommended intake is 700 micrograms for females and 900 micrograms for males. Note that only preformed vitamin A -- listed as "vitamin A" on the label -- posses toxicity risk, not vitamin A in the form of beta carotene. For vitamin D the recommended intake is 15 micrograms daily and for vitamin E, it is 15 milligrams.

You're Pregnant

If you're expecting, you're likely already experiencing some sort of nausea. You're also likely taking a prenatal vitamin. The latter often exacerbates the former, and many moms-to-be find it difficult to pop the daily pill they and their babies need. The size of the pill and all the different nutrients it contains, especially high doses of iron, are to blame, says the What To Expect website. Try taking your prenatal vitamin with a little food, or break the tablet in two and take one dose in the morning and one in the evening before bed. The What To Expect website also suggests asking your doctor about a prenatal vitamin high in vitamin B-6, which may help ease nausea.

Do You Need Vitamins?

If taking vitamins makes you feel sick and your doctor hasn't advised you to take them, you might consider giving up the daily pills. Experts are divided on whether are even worth taking. The Berkeley Wellness website says most people don't need a vitamin supplement unless they're over 60, pregnant or eat a vegan diet. Woman who hope to become pregnant should take a folic acid supplement. If you don't fall into one of these groups and want to avoid nausea from vitamins, ditch the pricy pills. Instead, eat a balanced diet including nutrient-rich foods such as dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, nuts and seeds, salmon, whole grains, low-fat dairy and eggs.

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