Can You Take Too Much Vitamin B?
B Vitamins are essential to your health. They play a key role in your body's daily function like generating blood cells, supporting your nervous system and keeping you energized.
A wide variety of foods like leafy greens, nuts, meat and seafood can provide you with Vitamin B. Supplements can further assist in ensuring you don't become deficient. However, too much Vitamin B can also cause complications. After all, it's always about moderation.
Whether your doctor has required you to take Vitamin B supplements to aid your current condition or you simply take them as part of your daily diet, it's important to know just how much is too much.
About Vitamin B
Vitamin B comes in different forms our bodies need to thrive. At times we don't get to consume much or any of the foods rich in them, we can turn to supplements to make up for it.
Below are eight essential water-soluble B vitamins, as well as the recommended daily dose for each.
Vitamin B1 - Thiamine
Vitamin B1 helps in the proper development and function of our muscles, skin and brain. Foods that are fortified as well as meat, legumes, and whole grains are rich in thiamine.
Vitamin B2 - Riboflavin
Vitamin B2 keeps our hair, skin, blood and brain healthy. Dairy, liver, mushrooms, almonds and fortified food are great sources of riboflavin.
Vitamin B3 - Niacin
Vitamin B3 is instrumental in metabolizing protein, fats and carbs in our bodies. Great food sources for this vitamin are potatoes, mushrooms, fish and meat.
Vitamin B5 - Panthothenic Acid
Vitamin B5 helps balance our sugar levels, aids in producing red blood cells, keeps our skin healthy as well as manages our cholesterol levels. Nuts, whole grains, dairy, mushrooms, and avocado are some of the best dietary sources of panthothenic acid.
The RDA for Vitamin B5 is 5 mg.
Vitamin B6 - Pyridoxine
Vitamin B6 metabolizes the protein in our bodies, helps us maintain a healthy brain and aids in ample production of our hormones. Fruits, fish, meat and grains are fantastic sources of this B vitamin.
Vitamin B7 - Biotin
Vitamin B7, also commonly referred to as Vitamin H or biotin, helps our body convert food into energy. It also helps our eyes, skin, liver, hair and nervous system in top shape. Nuts, seeds, fish like salmon and eggs are a good food source of Vitamin B7.
The RDA for biotin is 30 micrograms for adults.
Vitamin B9 - Folate
Vitamin B9 is often associated as a vitamin that aids pregnant women. It's crucial for cell production and helps prevent birth defects before and during pregnancy. It's commonly referred to as folic acid, which is a synthetic form of folate found in supplements. Some of the foods rich in Vitamin B9 are spinach, chickpeas, broccoli, and asparagus.
The RDA for folate is 400 microgams for those aged 14 years and above.
Vitamin B12 - Cyanocobalamin
Vitamin B12 plays a vital role in nerve and tissue health, formation of red blood cells as well as proper brain function. Foods rich in this B vitamin are more often found in animal products and dairy, which is why those that are on a vegan and vegetarian diet tend to take supplements to help fill the gaps.
The RDA for Vitamin B12 is 2.4 micrograms for those aged 14 years and above.
Why take Vitamin B supplements?
How much Vitamin B we need to take can vary from person to person. However, it's absolutely essential to make it a part of our daily regimen to stay healthy and prevent illness.
Apart from ensuring our bodily functions are maintained, here are other reasons why you may need to take B vitamins.
- Being pregnant or lactating
- Being a chronic alcoholic
- Being diabetic
- Being elderly with underlying health conditions
- Having AIDS or HIV
- Recovering from surgery like gastric bypass wherein you experience weight loss and other health complications
- Following a restricted diet like low calorie, vegetarian or vegan may hinder our bodies from receiving ample amounts of Vitamin B.
- Aiding certain conditions like celiac or Chron's disease, wherein the body has a difficult time absorbing vitamins and minerals.
- Taking specific medications that can affect your body's ability to absorb nutrients or can deplete certain B vitamins
- Having a kidney disease or poor renal function
- Increasing one's appetite, particularly for picky eaters
- Aiding in stronger brain fetal development
- Encouraging better nerve, tissue, muscle and brain development among children, teens and adults
- Boosting your energy to accomplish more everyday
- Reversing, treating and better managing conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, childhood autism, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, morning sickness and premenstrual syndrome
Vitamin B and healthy eating
We can't survive on supplements alone. It's important we nourish ourselves with a balanced diet so our bodies are able to perform and function properly. Multivitamins can only aid and help ensure our bodies are receiving its daily allowance of vitamins and minerals. We must always pair it with the right kind of foods for us to get enough nutrients to stay healthy.
Fortunately, there are many foods rich in B vitamins, including:
- Granola bars
- Leafy greens like kale and spinach
- Whole grains
- Shellfish like oysters and clams
- Vegetables like potatoes, avocados and beets
- Liver and kidney
- Red meat
- Fish like tuna and salmon
There may be a wide array of B vitamins available everywhere. This means we need to watch our intake. Otherwise, high doses of it could cause more harm than good.
Risks, symptoms and side effects of too much Vitamin B
B vitamins are commonly water-soluble, meaning excesses are normally excreted in our urine. However, when taking supplements, and depending on frequency and quantity of intake, our bodies may not be able to expel them quickly enough.
Similar to anything excessive, too much of a good thing could also lead to problems. In this case, too much Vitamin B can show symptoms anywhere between mild and severe. This can be toxic to our blood, skin, heart and brain. That's why careful dosage is critical.
The risk of Vitamin B overdose may be rare but that doesn't mean we can be aimless in our intake. Depending on your current condition and the advice of your physician, it’s essential to be careful and responsible with your intake. After all, Vitamin B toxicity is still possible.
Here are possible side effects and symptoms of too much Vitamin B.
The extent of rashes depend on just how intense B vitamin overdose is. It could be a portion of your skin turning red or welts may appear all over your body. A specific form of acne caused by these rashes could also be a symptom of overdose.
In very rare cases, people who reportedly had too much Vitamin B in them experience numbness or a tingling sensation on an area of the body. Along with this, some have reported reduced ability to pain.
Polycythemia vera means you may have an excessive number of red blood cells. With Vitamin B encouraging more cell growth, an excess amount of it can be counterproductive and could unmask the symptoms of this condition.
Progressive nerve damage
Another symptom of B vitamin overdose is progressive nerve damage. This could cause lack of muscle control or coordination.
In some cases, too much Vitamin B can result in gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea, vomiting and indigestion. Others have also reported experiencing nausea. Those with prior gastrointestinal issues are more prone to severe diarrhea and intense stomach cramps.
Hypertension or hypotension
Long-term side effects of high doses of Vitamin B also include hypertension (high blood pressure) or hypotension (low blood pressure).
Other extreme cases of too much Vitamin B can interfere with our ability to sleep normally. Since this vitamin acts as an energy booster, too much of it could lead to insomnia.
Dizziness and nausea
Some have also reported dizziness and nausea when taking high doses of B vitamins. Hot flushes could also occur.
Unsafe high doses of B vitamins can also affect our mental health. Apart from mood swings, we can also experience restlessness and depression. This can also be much worse for those who have prior underlying mental health conditions and heighten paranoia and mental fogginess.
Too much Vitamin B could also lead to a variety of eye problems like sensitivity to light, impaired vision or fluid buildup in the eyes.
If you have a hereditary condition called Leber's disease, you shouldn't take Vitamin B12. This can amplify the disease and could seriously harm your optic nerve and cause permanent blindness.
Other dietary risks
Fortified foods like cereals and bread are rich in Vitamin B. If you're already taking a B supplement that's providing 100% of your RDA, you may want to cut back on these foods to keep your dosage safe.
Toxicity and deficiency
Excessively high doses of Vitamin B taken over a long period of time can also lead to similar side effects and symptoms evident among those who are deficient.
Both toxicity and deficiency can affect healthy body and brain function. It can lead to complications of the heart, blood, skin, gastrointestinal, nerves, and cells.
Symptoms of too much Vitamin B, though rare, can be dangerous and at times even life threatening depending on the dose.
Talking to your doctor
Medical advice is key when taking a supplement, especially Vitamin B. Some may need more than others considering any underlying health conditions they may have. At times, this vitamin can also help treat specific illnesses or help reverse the effects of other conditions.
Furthermore, being on restrictive diets can also mean we may need to be more mindful about how much Vitamin B we should take, or which kind we should be more wary of.
Talking to your doctor always helps. It ensures our bodies are absorbing adequate vitamins and minerals and keeps us out of the danger zone.
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