Hypervitaminosis

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 period 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.

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:

  • Hypervitaminosis A
  • Hypervitaminosis D
  • High-dosage, regular and slow-release vitamin B3; Niacin; and very high-dosage vitamin B6 hypervitaminoses are associated with side effects that usually rapidly subside with supplement reduction or cessation.[citation needed]

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 polyvitaminic type formula, with iron and no fluoride).[3] 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).[4] 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.[5]

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  1. ^ “Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin A”. ods.od.nih.gov. Retrieved 2016-02-03.
  2. ^ Jump up to: 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. ^ Toxic Exposure Surveillance System (2004). “Annual Report” (PDF). American Association of Poison Control Centers. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2011-01-05.
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