Although your body rids itself of water-soluble nutrients more easily than fat-soluble nutrients, taking too much of either type can cause unpleasa
Although your body rids itself of water-soluble nutrients more easily than fat-soluble nutrients, taking too much of either type can cause unpleasant side effects and health problems. However, fat-soluble vitamins, which stay in your body for longer periods, are more likely to accumulate and cause problems if you overdose, and the problems they cause are often more serious.
Some vitamins, including vitamin C, folate and the B vitamins, are water-soluble, and your body can absorb them easily. These vitamins are easily depleted by cooking with water or lengthy storage times, according to Colorado State University. When you take in excess water-soluble nutrients, your kidneys remove what your body can’t use, excreting the excess through your urine. You are unable to store water-soluble vitamins, so you must take in an adequate amount of them each day.
Your body stores fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E and K, in your liver and other organs. It uses bile acids, fluids that help you absorb fat, to hold onto these nutrients for long periods and uses them as needed. Your body eliminates them more slowly than water-soluble nutrients. Fat-soluble nutrients consumed in excess pose a greater danger of toxicity because these substances can accumulate in your body over time.
Excess Water-Soluble Vitamins
Some people falsely believe it’s safe to take megadoses of water-soluble vitamins, assuming their bodies will flush out the excess, but taking too much of them can cause problems. For example, too much vitamin C may cause kidney stones, according to researchers who published a study in “Journal of the American Society of Nephrology” in 2004. The Institute of Medicine has set a tolerable upper intake limit, or UL, for vitamin C, folate, niacin and vitamin B-6, warning that excessive use may be harmful.
Excess Fat-Soluble Vitamins
Your body stores fat-soluble vitamins, and excessive amounts can accumulate at toxic levels and damage your organs. The only fat-soluble nutrient for which the IOM has not set a UL is vitamin K. Taking too much vitamin A can cause dizziness, nausea, headache, bone or joint pain, and can be fatal. Too much vitamin D can cause calcium to build up in your bloodstream, adversely affecting your heart and kidneys. Excessive vitamin E may impair blood clotting and increase your likelihood of hemorrhage. Fat-soluble minerals are equally dangerous. Iron overdose is the leading cause of poisoning death in children, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.