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Are vitamins bad for you?

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Quick Answer

Studies have shown that the excessive intake of some vitamins, including beta carotene and vitamins A and E, can be harmful, according to NPR. Too much vitamin E and beta carotene can cause cancer, while elevated levels of vitamin A can lead to liver damage, coma and death.

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Full Answer

Regularly overdosing on vitamins and minerals can be harmful, WebMD confirms. Ingesting too much selenium can cause hair loss, fatigue and mild nerve damage, and excess zinc or vitamin C can lead to stomach cramps, nausea and diarrhea. Unsafe amounts of vitamin D can cause severe heart problems, and excessive folic acid intake can mask a vitamin B12 deficiency. Cases of vitamin overdose are rare, and patients tend to have vitamin levels that are higher than ideal rather than dangerous. Symptoms of excessive vitamin intake include problems concentrating or sleeping, irritability and nerve issues, such as tingling or numbness.

The American Heart Association recommends eating a balanced, healthy diet rather than relying on supplements. It points out that supplements can benefit people with vitamin and mineral deficiencies provided they use vitamins in addition to eating healthy, nutrient-dense foods and after consulting a health care professional. In addition, it warns against taking antioxidant vitamin supplements, which include vitamins A, C and E, because there is no evidence suggesting that these lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol or help one stop smoking.

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