Is it true that the more vitamins I take the better I am? No, in fact, the opposite is true. Excessive intake of some vitamins can be even dangerous and give rise to hypervitaminosis with serious consequences, as the experts recall in the section dedicated to hoaxes and false myths of Issalute, the information portal of the Higher Institute health care. In fact, the opinion that vitamins can only do well is still widespread, so many, also driven by advertising, take multivitamin supplements without a real need. However, a varied and balanced diet is usually sufficient to meet the need for these substances.

This was not the case in the past when diseases caused by vitamin deficiencies (avitaminosis) were very common. As Issalute tells us, it was at the end of the eighteenth century that we began to identify vitamins, observing how the consumption of specific foods made the symptoms of some pathologies disappear. The case of scurvy is famous: in 1753 an English doctor discovered that the disease could be treated with lemon juice, which must have contained an “anti-scurvy substance” later identified in 1932 as vitamin C or ascorbic acid. A few years later it was discovered that pellagra, a disease that in the past hit the regions of Northern Italy hard, was due to a lack of vitamin B3.

An excess of vitamins can cause diseases called hypervitaminosis

Today, vitamin deficiencies are quite rare in Western countries, but they can still occur in the case of conditions that prevent absorption, a highly unbalanced diet, or when the need has increased, such as in pregnancy. Therefore, you should only resort to supplements when it is ascertained the need, otherwise, you risk facing the opposite condition, that is to say, hypervitaminosis, which can sometimes have serious consequences.

The most common hypervitaminoses are those given by the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K, which are accumulated in the liver and adipose tissue and disposed of very slowly. Excess of the water-soluble vitamins C and B is eliminated very quickly in the urine. Symptoms of hypervitaminosis vary depending on the substance that builds up. Too much vitamin A causes headache, vomiting, numbness, premature ossification in children and malformations in fetuses; vitamin D causes increased calcium levels in the blood, thirst, abdominal pain, fatigue, and altered wakefulness; hypervitaminosis E can cause intestinal disorders; vitamin K can cause hot flashes, thrombosis, and anemia.