5 On Your Side

Too many vitamins could be bad for your health

Posted December 26, 2013

That extra boost of vitamin may be a little too much.

Consumer Reports calculated certain nutrients within a hypothetical list of foods one might eat in a day.

Breakfast may consist of two cups of coffee, cereal, orange juice, a multivitamin and a couple of calcium chews.

Mid-morning – a nutrition bar.

Lunch consists of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and lemonade.

Mid-afternoon snack? A protein shake.

After an extra-strength energy drink later on, dinner consists of mac and cheese.

Other than being full, the above menu adds up to almost four times the recommended amount of calcium.

"That's too much of a good thing,” said Jamie Kopf, senior associate editor at Consumer Reports. “If you consume excess calcium over time, you could end up with problems like constipation, kidney stones and
possibly impaired absorption of iron and zinc."

The sample diet also has 470 milligrams of caffeine, more than the recommended daily limit of 400. Too much caffeine can lead to insomnia, rapid heart rate and increased blood pressure.

The above menu also has five times the recommended amount of folate, which can mask a B12 deficiency.

Too much vitamin C can also be bad. It's added to lots of foods and can lead to intestinal problems. A max of 2,000 milligrams a day is ideal.

"The bottom line is that you really need to read labels on fortified foods to make sure that you're not getting too much,” Kopf said. “Just because some of a vitamin or mineral is good doesn't necessarily mean that more is better."

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