Expert Reveals Why Too Many Vitamin Supplements Can Be Hazardous To Your Health - Exclusive

As it turns out, there is such a thing as taking too many vitamin supplements. While vitamins are essential for your overall health and well-being, consuming an excessive amount of vitamin supplements can actually be hazardous to your health. While over-the-counter supplements are generally safe, it is imperative that you follow the instructions on the bottle and take them as directed. In fact, taking more than you need could pose a risk to your health.

That's because vitamin supplements aren't as regulated as other over-the-counter drugs. "In the U.S., dietary supplements are categorized as food, and not drugs. That means that there's less oversight from the FDA regarding production standards," Ilisa Nussbaum, RD, a clinical dietitian at Yale New Haven Hospital, said in an exclusive interview with Health Digest. "There are rules that companies are meant to follow with regard to health claims, but in practice, there are a lot of loopholes which result in consumer confusion."

The negative effects of taking too many supplements

According to Nussbaum, consuming too many vitamin supplements can result in a range of negative side effects, which can vary depending on the specific supplement involved. For instance, magnesium supplements are commonly used as a sleep aid, but taking too many can lead to stomach cramps and diarrhea. In addition, consuming an excess of biotin supplements, which can be used to help improve the health of your nails, skin, and hair, can interfere with thyroid function lab tests and lead to false results. Not to mention, ingesting too many caffeine supplements can cause you to overdose on caffeine.

Generally speaking, however, the overuse of supplements can result in kidney and liver toxicity. "This makes sense because those organs play important roles in processing and excreting anything you ingest," Nussbaum says. "The takeaway is that if you've identified a need for increasing a specific nutrient, such as magnesium, do your best to increase intake through foods instead of supplements."

Supplements that tend to be overused

Although there are quite a few vitamin supplements out there, Nussbaum says that there are a few specific ones that some people tend to misuse and overuse more than others. "In my practice, I see overuse of collagen peptides in women, overuse of caffeine and protein powders in athletes, and overuse of CBD by everyone," Nussbaum shares. While collagen, protein powder, and cannabidiol oil (CBD) are all good supplements that can help improve your skin, enhance athletic performance, and reduce inflammation respectively, they are only helpful as long as they're used strictly as supplements.

At the end of the day, vitamin supplements should never be used to replace nutrients gained through food. "Collagen peptides can be helpful, but they aren't going to do much to make your skin look better if you don't use sunscreen, get enough quality sleep, and drink enough water," she explains. "Not only is it unlikely that you'll ingest enough spinach and pumpkin seeds to overdose on magnesium, but you'll get the added benefits of all the other nutrients in those foods."

How to enhance your health if you're not getting enough nutrients from food

If you're not getting enough vitamins and nutrients from your daily diet and are looking to boost your overall health, however, Nussbaum recommends seeing a registered dietitian. "Registered Dietitians are educated health professionals who use evidence-based practices to help you identify health gaps that can be improved through your intake of food and can recommend specific supplements in appropriate dosages," Nussbaum says.

Generally speaking, registered dietitians will go over your family and medical history, examine your lab and medical test results, and assess your current intake of certain vitamins and nutrients in order to identify gaps in nutrition and create a diet and lifestyle plan that works best for you. "Importantly, it is absolutely essential that you inform your doctor and dietitian of the supplements you are on so that they can caution you about interactions with any medications and be alert for any other impacts on your health," she shares.

How to find out which supplements are right for you

Furthermore, you can also find out which vitamin supplements are right for you and your overall physical health by speaking to both a registered dietitian and a medical doctor. "That's the magic combination," Nussbaum explains. "By working with both, you get the benefit of two trained medical professionals who each have a different expertise."

According to Nussbaum, a physician can help you determine whether or not you have a medical condition that can be addressed through either nutrition intervention or medication. Meanwhile, a registered dietitian can come up with a plan to improve your medical issues through diet and lifestyle changes. Depending on the person, this plan may also include taking vitamin supplements. However, working with both a doctor and a registered dietitian will help ensure that, whichever vitamin supplements you take, you'll be consuming a safe and effective amount.

To learn more about Dr. Ilisa Nussbaum, visit the Yale New Haven Hospital website.