Often people are a little careless about the way they take vitamins. Excess vitamins can produce unwanted side effects.
Taking mega-doses of vitamins is not always without danger, especially as far as synthetic vitamins are concerned. Natural vitamins are usually not harmful, but you should still be careful about ingesting too much of certain types of food. One example is citrus fruit, which people often eat too much of, thinking they need more Vitamin C. Hyperacidity can cause serious digestive problems. The same is true if your system becomes too alkaline.
The important thing is to be rational in the way you use natural vitamins, since they are indispensable for maintaining – and sometimes restoring health. One of the basic aspects of good health is a balanced diet, free of excesses that can either strip your system of vitamins, or overload it with too many.
Effects of too much Vitamin A
The prolonged use of too much Vitamin A (in capsule form) can cause haemolytic anemia, with an accumulation of lipids (fat) in the liver, gallbladder and bone marrow.
Acute or chronic Vitamin A intoxication can cause:
– skin lesions (redness, desquamation, fissures on the lips)
– metabolic problems (due to an excess of calcium in your system)
– neurological problems (hypertension, headaches)
– psychiatric problems (psychosis, mental confusion).
This vitamin, in its synthetic form, presents the greatest risk of intoxication due to overdose. Symptoms include:
– excess calcium with resulting nausea
– appetite loss
– kidney lesions
– abnormal calcification
In some cases relatively small doses of synthetic Vitamin D can cause unwanted symptoms, especially in foetuses and infants when women take too much synthetic Vitamin D.
This vitamin is useful in the treatment of various disorders. It is generally non-toxic, although doses of between 300 and 800 milligrams can cause muscular weakness and nausea. Large doses can also neutralize the beneficial effects of Vitamin K.
Taking too much Vitamin K can cause jaundice in infants, and neutralize the effects of oral anticoagulants.
Taking very large doses of Vitamin B6 (a number of grams) can result in peripheral nerve pathologies with ataxia (impaired motor functions). Recovery is not always complete even after the administration of Vitamin B6 is stopped.
Although Vitamin B3 itself is relatively non-toxic, such is not the case for nicotinic acid, used in the treatment of schizophrenia. When taken in large doses (3 grams and more – the normal daily intake being 15 to 20 milligrams per day) B3 liberates histamines which can cause facial erythema (abnormal reddening of the skin resulting from the congestion of small capillaries), skin eruptions, gastrointestinal problems, digestive problems and in some cases liver problems. An overdose of B3 can also aggravate asthmatic symptoms.
Vitamins B1 andB12
Injections of either vitamin can cause anaphylactic shock, and sometimes even death.
Although Vitamin C is generally considered non-toxic, overdoses of synthetic Vitamin C can cause diarrhea, gout and bladder stones.
Infants whose mothers took too much Vitamin C while pregnant occasionally exhibit withdrawal symptoms resembling those caused by scurvy, as if their systems had become accustomed to large amounts of Vitamin C.
The average person’s daily Vitamin C requirement is between 50 and 100 milligrams. Larger mounts and mega-doses (a few grams per day) have not been shown to be of significant benefit, at least in the controlled studies that were carried out. In addition, such large doses can produce the side effects mentioned earlier. Synthetic Vitamin C can also interfere with the effects of other medication like oral anticoagulants.
Folic acid (Vitamin B9)
Folic acid can camouflage a Vitamin B12 deficiency, as well as Biermer’s syndrome.
Taking regular folic acid supplements does not seem to be necessary. Supplements are usually prescribed for pregnant women, although the merits of the practice are under debate. The major risk involved is when folic acid is administered to subjects suffering from a B12 deficiency. The apparent corrective action of B9 on blood composition masks the aggravation of the neurological syndrome (caused by a B12 deficiency), the symptoms of which can become irreversible.
Vitamins and pregnancy
It is suspected that very large doses of Vitamin A cause genetic anomalies, although the results of epidemiological studies are not clear (the same is true of Vitamin D). Vitamin A has been shown to be teratogenic (causing genetic changes) in animals.
Birth defects caused by extremely large doses of natural Vitamin A are not nearly as serious as those caused by synthetic Vitamin A (retinoic acid).
Congenital malformations are thought to be caused by exposure to substances which are derivatives of Vitamin A, rather than by Vitamin A itself. Nevertheless, many doctors recommend contraceptive measures to ensure that women do not become pregnant while being treated with Vitamin A or one of its derivatives.
Interaction between vitamins and medication
– Large doses of folic acid and/or pyridoxine can inhibit the effects of anti-epileptic medications (phenytoine).
– Large doses of a number of vitamins alter the effects of oral anticoagulants. Their effects are inhibited by Vitamin C, and enhanced by Vitamins A and E.
– Studies on pathologies caused by the imprudent use of synthetic (and especially chemical) vitamins have shown that unwanted side effects often occur.
We strongly suggest seeking the advice of a doctor before embarking on any form of therapy using synthetic vitamins.
Avoiding vitamin deficiencies
Making sure that your diet contains sufficient amounts of all vitamins and other nutrients will strengthen your immune system and reduce your risk of disease (including cancer).
Here are a few simple rules to help ensure proper nutrition.
1. Eliminate or reduce your intake of potentially harmful, non- nutritious foods:
– tea, coffee, alcohol
– refined salt
– toxic condiments (laurel)
– toxic artificial taste enhancers
– potentially dangerous essences of certain plants
– mineralized water
2. Reduce your intake of foods containing ‘empty calories:’
– Replace white bread with whole grain bread.
– Replace white sugar with pure cane sugar, honey, maple syrup, etc.
– Avoid cakes, canned fruit and other foods containing large amounts of white sugar and/or flour
3. Increase your intake of nutritious foods:
– Eat lots of raw vegetables: salads, beets, turnip, celery, chervil, parsley, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, etc.
– Make sure to eat a sufficient amount of sprouted grains (wheat, alfalfa, oats, sunflower seed, fenugreek, soybean, etc.) every day.
– Fruit should be in season whenever possible, and fully ripe; eat moderate amounts of raw fruit, and don’t combine raw fruit with glucides (starchy or sweet foods).
4. Be careful about food combinations
– Egg white inhibits the digestion of certain B-complex vitamins.
– Legumes, soybean and raw fish contain toxins that can destroy some nutrients.
– Intestinal putrefaction destroys nutrients.
5. Avoid destroying the nutrients in your food:
– Don’t store food for too long.
– Be careful about how you cook your food:
– fresh peas lose 94% of their vitamin content after being cooked;
– 40% of Vitamin A, 100% of Vitamin C, 80% of B-complex vitamins, and 55% of Vitamin E can be destroyed by cooking (Vitamin C can resist rapid boiling under acidic conditions).
– Avoid leftovers: re-heated foods can contain toxins, and are generally stripped of their vitamins.
– Frozen foods also lose some nutrients: at frozen vegetables lose more than 50% of their Vitamin C content in under 6 months.
6. Eat prudently, but make sure your diet varies considerably from one meal to the next, since useful vitamins are found in foods of both animal and vegetable origin.
– Animal foods:
– Meat – Vitamins B1, B2, PP
– Fish – Vitamins B2, PP and D (oily fish)
– Cheese – Vitamins A and B2
– Milk – Vitamins B2, C, A and D (these vitamins are largely destroyed when milk is boiled or heated to prepare infant foods)
Butter – Vitamins A and D
– Vegetable foods:
– Fresh fruit and vegetables that are organically grown generally contain large amounts of Vitamin C and beta-carotene (pro-Vitamin A).
– Legumes, grains – Vitamins B1, B2, PR
– Sprouted grains contain many vitamins, as well as high quality biological minerals and oligo-elements.
7. Maintain a healthy lifestyle:
– Tobacco smoking destroys Vitamin C
– Excess consumption of alcohol or coffee also destroys vitamins.
– Exercise on a regular basis.
8. Be careful about the kinds of cooking and serving utensils you use: utensils containing aluminum or lead can reduce the quality of your food. 9. Other negative factors:
– Toxins used by the agricultural industry:
– chemical fertilizers
– preservative agents
– Environmental toxins:
– wood preservatives
– chemical insecticides
– insulation materials
– air quality at home and in the workplace
– car emissions
Note that certain parasites can destroy vitamins or inhibit their effects. Some types of bacteria, for example, can prevent the absorption of Vitamin B12.