How dangerous is too much vitamin A.
The dose makes the poison
Isolated nutrients are overdosed faster
Dietary supplements differ from conventional foods because they contain nutrients such as vitamins or minerals in a concentrated, isolated form. This means that overdosing is possible more quickly, and "good" can become "health problematic".
To date, there are no uniform maximum levels for micronutrients in food supplements in the EU. Some countries have national regulations, others like Germany none at all. That could change, however - and would meet a longstanding demand from consumer advice centers.
How much is too much
However, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) has based on current scientific knowledge Suggestions for maximum amounts of vitamins and minerals in dietary supplements and fortified foodsDeveloped. Products that adhere to these recommendations and are taken according to the manufacturer's instructions are safe for people aged 15 and over. These recommendations are not legally bindingSo manufacturers don't have to adhere to it. But they will help you to shop safely.
These values may seem quite low compared to what is commercially available. However, they take into account the supply situation in Germany - after all, we also consume nutrients through food - and, above all, the risk that individual substances pose if the intake is too high.
If a doctor recommends higher amounts for therapeutic reasons, these should of course be taken into account. For the treatment of an illness or a deficiency, however, dietary supplements are the wrong choice, as drugs or possibly foods for special medical purposes (for diet management) are better suited.
BfR recommendations for food supplements for adults:
3 Dietary supplement for reducing the risk of neural tube defects (NRD) before and during pregnancy 400 µg
4 When using nicotinic acid 4 mg, when using inositol hexanicotinate (inositol niacinate) 4.4 mg
5 When taking anticoagulant medication, consume only after consulting a doctor
9 During pregnancy only after consultation with a doctor
10 In men aged 55 and over, uncontrolled vitamin E supplementation can increase the risk of prostate cancer.
11 If you need to undergo a laboratory test, please inform the laboratory staff about your (recent) use of biotin.
Vitamin D occupies a special position among the vitamins, because the body can usually produce it itself with the help of daylight. If such a formation (the so-called endogenous synthesis) does not take place, the German Nutrition Society recommends a total intake including food of 20 micrograms per day.
1 not suitable for children and young people
2 Post-menopausal women, pregnant women and men only after consulting a doctor
6 Note for food supplements with more than 250 mg / daily dose: Ingestion of other calcium-containing food supplements should be avoided.
7 Ingestion of the recommended daily maximum in two or more servings is recommended
8 Note on food supplements with more than 3.5 mg / daily dose: Ingestion of other food supplements containing zinc should be avoided
12 Pregnant and breastfeeding women 150 µg / daily dose
13 When using silicon dioxide 350 mg, silicic acid (silica gel) 100 mg, choline-stabilized orthosilicic acid 10 mg, organic silicon (monomethylsilanetriol) 10 mg
There are currently no recommendations for any other substance. There is insufficient data to estimate how many antioxidants, polyphenols, carotenoids such as lutein or astaxanthin etc. are safe.
What can I do myself?
- When purchasing products, make sure that the dosages recommended by the BfR for dietary supplements are not exceeded.
- Do not take more than the stated daily dose. This is particularly important with products for children, which should only be given after consulting a pediatrician.
- Take warnings (e.g. to consult your doctor) seriously.
- Do not combine several products with the same ingredients. And don't eat foods that are fortified with vitamins and minerals, such as multivitamin juices or yogurts.
- Over-the-counter drugs or medical products can also contain vitamins or minerals; pay attention to the packaging information.
Where are the most likely to have problems?
Excessive amounts of nutrients (overdosing) can have an unfavorable effect on the body, although this also partly depends on the living conditions / environmental conditions.
For example, it has long been known that additional doses of beta-carotene can promote the development of lung cancer in smokers. Since many soft drinks are enriched with beta-carotene and foods are colored with it (E 160), the BfR currently recommends not using beta-carotene in food supplements.
If pregnant women consume too much vitamin A in the first few weeks (also through foods such as liver), the child's development can be disturbed.
Products with high doses of antioxidants (e.g. vitamins D, E, selenium) to protect against cardiovascular diseases or cancer are not recommended.
Certain trace elements such as iron should only be taken by pregnant women, postmenopausal women and men if there is a proven deficiency and after consulting a doctor because of the risks that uncontrolled absorption can entail. Pre-menopausal women should not exceed the maximum recommended dose of 6 mg per day without medical advice.
An excess of individual nutrients can also hinder the absorption of other nutrients, e.g. B. zinc and iron, plant sterols or chitosan and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K).
What the food control found so
The evaluation of the results of the food controls shows that problematic overdoses are most likely to occur with products from the USA. Excessive amounts of vitamin B6, nicotinic acid (niacin), vitamin D, vitamin B12 and vitamin E as well as the trace elements zinc, selenium and copper are particularly common. In the case of magnesium in particular, inadmissible compounds such as Mg orotate or Mg aspartate are found more frequently, as is the case with manganese and boron.
Important to know: Substances like Cobalt, germanium, lithium or strontium are banned in dietary supplements, are most likely to be found in internet products.
Certain algae products, which can contain dangerously high iodine levels, can naturally be overdosed.
BfR (2021): Updated maximum quantity proposals for vitamins and minerals in food supplements and fortified foods. Opinion No. 009/2021 of March 15, 2021
Hahn A. et al. (2016): Nutrition - Physiological Basics, Prevention, Therapy. 3rd, completely revised and expanded edition 2016, Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft Stuttgart, pp. 290-313
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