Can You Take Too Many Vitamins?

Vitamins are essential, but what happens when you take a lot of them? Some athletes firmly believe it's good for them. But science thinks otherwise.

You can get insane amounts of vitamins via high-dose vitamin pills. Well, proportionally: it's still always about milli- or even micrograms. But it is a multiple of the recommended daily dose. Ideal, because what's good is even better if you get a huge amount of it. Right?

Too much vitamin C? Just pee that out again

The American chemist Linus Pauling (1901-1994) was one of the first to claim that vitamins work better in higher doses. He took 300 times the recommended amount of vitamin C. That would help against cancer, for example, he maintained even when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. With two Nobel prizes, Pauling was a highly influential scientist, and his ideas about mega-dosing still have supporters.

But a vitamin specialist Pauling was by no means. Vitamin C is fortunately an adjuvant of which you don't seem to overdose. A surplus is simply excreted. But that is by no means true of every vitamin: substances that are healthy in themselves can be dangerous in high doses.

You shouldn't take too many of these vitamins

The disadvantages of some vitamins are well known. For example, too large a serving of vitamin E can cause bleeding, although this nutrient only goes wrong at dozens of times the normal amount.

Vitamin B6 can also be dangerous. Skater Sven Kramer unintentionally proved that in 2010. Because of a deficiency in that vitamin, he had taken vitamin supplements. But because of the high dose of those supplements, he suffered temporary nerve hypersensitivity in his leg. Not very convenient on the ice rink.

A regular multivitamin pill can't hurt

For many other vitamins, there is a minimum amount as well as a maximum. Filling yourself up with them is not a good plan.

You certainly won't overdose if you eat a lot of vitamin-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables. Even ordinary multivitamins do not pose a danger, but it is better to be careful with high-dose variants.

An overdose of vitamins is not likely, but vitamins are not always good for your health.