Over 62% of North Americans are currently taking some form of natural supplements. This statistic tells us that most people are looking for natural alternatives to address health concerns, which is a good thing! But, when it comes to taking supplements, many people are still concerned about taking too much of a good thing, leaving many to wonder whether their efforts to optimize their health are in fact hurting, instead of helping them.

Should we be concerned about taking too many vitamins and supplements? In general, there’s no need to be concerned if you are taking supplements as directed and under the supervision of your health care provider. If you are doing so, then your chances of experiencing negative side effects are significantly small. However, it is possible to get too much of a good thing. Too much sunlight can lead to sunburns, too much food can lead to obesity, and yet we need both in order to survive. The same applies to supplements. Consumption of extremely large doses of vitamins, called hypervitaminosis, may lead to negative side effects.

So, let’s examine what we need to be aware of when taking our vitamins and supplements.

Vitamins exist in two different forms: water soluble and fat soluble. The water-soluble vitamins (vitamins B and C) are freely eliminated from our body and need to be replenished regularly.

Our fat-soluble vitamins are a little trickier, and it’s with these forms where people should become concerned.  The fat-soluble vitamins are eliminated a little more slowly from the body and therefore accumulate more easily in the body.  However, this should only be a concern when supplements are consumed in mega doses (well over the safe amount!).

Vitamin A is a great example. Many people are concerned about the effects of vitamin A and have heard about possible side effects of taking too much vitamin A.   Vitamin A exists in two forms: retinol (preformed vitamin A) and carotenoids, which we see as our beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, and which can be converted into vitamin A.

Beta-carotene is not the source of concern. We have a natural regulatory mechanism in the body that will stop the conversion of beta-carotene into vitamin A when we have optimal levels in the body.  It’s the retinol that we should be concerned about!

Average dose of beta-carotene: 6000 IU – 8700 IU daily (from supplements)

Average dose of vitamin A:  1000 IU – 4300 IU daily

Vitamin A can accumulate in the body, but this is seen in long-term ingestion of vitamin A at levels equal to or greater than 66000 IU daily!  You would have to be taking EXTREMELY large doses of vitamin A to reach a toxic level.  Additionally, any negative side effects experienced generally disappear once you stop taking the vitamin.

The maximum amount you’ll find in TrueBASICS for Men/Women is 1,666 IU, if taking 3 packs daily. So, there’s no need for concern even if you’re taking it with your TrueAntioxidant / Protect, which gives you 10000 IU daily.

The other major concern for many people is whether long-term supplementation, with multiple supplements, can be harmful in the long run.

In 2007, the Nutrition Journal published a study which examined supplement users who consumed multiple supplements daily for more than 20 years. Over 50% of the individuals were consuming 10 to13 different products daily (multivitamin/mineral, B-complex, vitamin C, carotenoids, vitamin E, calcium with vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids, lecithin, alfalfa, coenzyme Q10 with resveratrol, glucosamine, and a herbal immune supplement).  


Results?  The blood-nutrient levels increased in dietary supplement use, and the greater the degree of supplement use was associated with more favorable concentrations of:

  •  Serum homocysteine: marker for heart disease
  •  C-reactive protein: marker for inflammation
  • Cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein HDL  cholesterol and triglycerides
  • Lower risk of elevated blood pressure and diabetes


leading-causes-of-deathSo, in short, long-term supplementation appears to lead to greater health in the long-term with no signs of detrimental effects or organ damage.

Additionally, the American Association of Poison Control keeps detailed records of adverse reactions from natural supplements.  As of 2010, there had never been any reported cases of death due to supplementation. To put this in perspective, the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Centre for Disease Control reported that properly prescribed prescription drugs account for 100,000 deaths in the US annually and 180,000 deaths when you account forimproperly prescribed prescriptions, making it the third cause of death behind heart disease and cancer.

The moral of the story?  Take your supplements! Just make sure you do it at the right doses.  And, always be aware of allergies, sensitivities and other medications you might be taking at the same time.