World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article




Vitamin overdose
Classification and external resources
ICD-10 E67.0-E67.3
ICD-9-CM 278.2, 278.4

Hypervitaminosis refers to a condition of abnormally high storage levels of vitamins, which can lead to toxic symptoms. The medical names of the different conditions are derived from the vitamin involved: an excess of vitamin A, for example, is called hypervitaminosis A.

Hypervitaminosis primarily affects the Fat Soluble Vitamins, as these are stored by the body for longer timeframes than the Water Soluble Vitamins. However, avoiding true excesses of both classes of vitamins can make the condition hard to get.

Generally, toxic levels of vitamins stem from high supplement intake and not from dietary sources. Toxicities of fat-soluble vitamins can also be caused by a large intake of highly fortified foods, but foods rarely deliver dangerous levels of fat-soluble vitamins.[1]

The Dietary Reference Intake recommendations from the United States Department of Agriculture define a "tolerable upper intake level" for most vitamins.

High dosage vitamin A; high dosage, slow release vitamin B3; and very high dosage vitamin B6 alone (i.e. without vitamin B complex) are sometimes associated with vitamin side effects that usually rapidly cease with supplement reduction or cessation.


  • Fat soluble 1
  • Minerals 2
  • Comparative safety statistics 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5

Fat soluble

With few exceptions, like some vitamins from B complex, hypervitaminosis usually occurs more with fat-soluble vitamins (D, E, K and A or 'DEKA'), which are stored 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.[1]

Conditions include:

According to Williams' Essentials of Diet and Nutrition Therapy (Mosby, 10th Edition) It is difficult to set a DRI for vitamin K because part of the requirement can be met by intestinal bacterial synthesis.

  • Reliable information is lacking as to the vitamin K content of many foods or its bioavailability. With this in mind the Expert Committee established an AI rather than an RDA.
  • This RDA (AI for men age 19 and older is 120 µg/day, AI for women is 90 µg/day) is adequate to preserve blood clotting, but the correct intake needed for optimum bone health is unknown. Toxicity has not been reported.


High doses of mineral supplements can also lead to side effects and toxicity. Mineral-supplement poisoning does occur occasionally, most often due to excessive intake of iron-containing supplements.

Comparative safety statistics

In the United States, overdose exposure to all formulations of "vitamins" was reported by 62,562 individuals in 2004 (nearly 80% [~78%, n=48,989] of these exposures were 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).[2] 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).[3] In 2010, 71,000 exposures to various vitamins and multivitamin-mineral formulations were reported to poison control centers, which resulted in 15 major reactions but no deaths.[4]

Before 1998, several deaths per year were associated with pharmaceutical iron-containing supplements, especially brightly colored, sugar-coated, high-potency iron supplements, and most deaths were children.[5] Unit packaging restrictions on supplements with more than 30 mg of iron have since reduced deaths to 0 or 1 per year.[5] These statistics compare with 59 confirmed deaths due to aspirin poisoning in 2003 [6] and 147 deaths known to be associated with acetaminophen-containing products in 2003.[6]

See also


  1. ^ a b Sizer, Frances Sienkiewicz; Ellie Whitney (2008). Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies (11 ed.). United States of America: Thomson Wadsworth. pp. 221, 235.  
  2. ^ Toxic Exposure Surveillance System (2004). "Annual Report" (pdf).  
  3. ^ "National Center for Health Statistics". 
  4. ^ Bronstein, A. C.; Spyker, D. A.; Cantilena, L. R.; Green, J. L.; Rumack, B. H.; Dart, R. C. (2011). "2010 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers' National Poison Data System (NPDS): 28th Annual Report". Clinical Toxicology 49 (10): 910–941.  
  5. ^ a b Tenenbein M (2005). "Unit-dose packaging of iron supplements and reduction of iron poisoning in young children". Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med 159 (6): 557–60.  
  6. ^ a b Watson WA, Litovitz TL, Klein-Schwartz W, et al. (2004). "2003 annual report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers Toxic Exposure Surveillance System". Am J Emerg Med 22 (5): 335–404.  
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.