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Vitamin overdose
500 mg calcium supplements with vitamin D.jpg
Supplements of calcium and vitamin D
CausesExcessive consumption of vitamins

Hypervitaminosis is a condition of abnormally high storage levels of vitamins, which can lead to toxic symptoms. Specific medical names of the different conditions are derived from the vitamin involved: an excess of vitamin A, for example, is called hypervitaminosis A. Hypervitaminoses are primarily caused by fat-soluble vitamins (D and A), as these are stored by the body for longer than the water-soluble vitamins.[1]

Generally, toxic levels of vitamins stem from high supplement intake and not from natural food. Toxicities of fat-soluble vitamins can also be caused by a large intake of highly fortified foods, but natural food rarely deliver dangerous levels of fat-soluble vitamins.[2] The Dietary Reference Intake recommendations from the United States Department of Agriculture define a "tolerable upper intake level" for most vitamins.

Vitamin overdose can be avoided by not taking more than the normal or recommended amount of multi-vitamin supplement shown on the bottle and not ingesting multiple vitamin-containing supplements concurrently.[3]

Signs and symptoms

Organs compromises:[3]

  • Cloudy urine
  • Frequent urination
  • Increased urine amount
  • Dryness, cracking lips (due to chronic overdose)
  • Eye Irritation
  • Increased sensitivity of the eyes to light
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Bone pain
  • Joint pain
  • Muscle pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Confusion, mood changes
  • Convulsions (seizures)
  • Fainting
  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Mental changes
  • Irritability
  • Flushing (reddened skin) from niacin (vitamin B3)
  • Dry, cracking skin
  • Itching, burning skin, or rash
  • Yellow-orange areas of skin
  • Sensitivity to sun (more likely to sunburn)
  • Hair loss (from long-term overdose)
  • Intestinal bleeding (from iron)
  • Appetite loss
  • Constipation (from iron or calcium)
  • Diarrhea, possibly bloody
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Weight loss (from long-term overdose)


With few exceptions, like some vitamins from B-complex, hypervitaminosis usually occurs with the fat-soluble vitamins A and D, which are stored, respectively, in the liver and fatty tissues of the body. These vitamins build up and remain for a longer time in the body than water-soluble vitamins.[2] Conditions include:


Do not take more than the normal or recommended amount of multivitamin supplements.[3]


In the United States, overdose exposure to all formulations of "vitamins" (which includes multi-vitamin/mineral products) was reported by 62,562 individuals in 2004 with nearly 80% of these exposures in children under the age of 6, leading to 53 "major" life-threatening outcomes and 3 deaths (2 from vitamins D and E; 1 from a multivitamin with iron).[4] This may be compared to the 19,250 people who died of unintentional poisoning of all kinds in the U.S. in the same year (2004).[5] In 2016, overdose exposure to all formulations of vitamins and multi-vitamin/mineral formulations was reported by 63,931 individuals to the American Association of Poison Control Centers with 72% of these exposures in children under the age of five. No deaths were reported.[6]

See also


  1. ^ "Office of Dietary Supplements - Vitamin A". ods.od.nih.gov. Retrieved 2016-02-03.
  2. ^ a b Sizer, Frances Sienkiewicz; Ellie Whitney (2008). Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies (11 ed.). United States of America: Thomson Wadsworth. pp. 221, 235. ISBN 0-495-39065-8.
  3. ^ a b c "Multiple vitamin overdose". MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. U.S. National Library of Medicine. 2019-01-28. Retrieved 2019-02-11. This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  4. ^ Toxic Exposure Surveillance System (2004). "Annual Report" (PDF). American Association of Poison Control Centers. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2011-01-05. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "National Center for Health Statistics".
  6. ^ Gummin DD, Mowry JB, Spyker DA, Brooks DE, Fraser MO, Banner W (2017). "2016 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System (NPDS): 34th Annual Report" (PDF). Clinical Toxicology. 55 (10): 1072–1254. doi:10.1080/15563650.2017.1388087. PMID 29185815.

External links

External resources