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Do Vitamin Supplements Cause More Harm Than Good?

Consumption of Vitamin Supplements has exponentially increased over the last decade or so, as more and more people have become fitness conscious and are very careful about what they eat and drink. People have started to spend more time in the gym taking care of their body so that they stay in good shape and physically fit. Aside from spending time exercising, vitamin supplements also play a key role in the diet of people these days.[1]

A question therefore was asked in a recent study as to whether these vitamin supplements are really good for the body. This study was aimed at exploring the benefits of these supplements and whether they play any significant role in preventing cardiovascular illnesses or other serious conditions like stroke in people vulnerable to it.[1]

The study examined supplements of vitamins to include vitamin A, riboflavin, thiamine, niacin, folic acid, Vitamin B, C, and to name a few. Read below to find out whether vitamin supplements are indeed good for overall health or not.[1]

Why Do We Need Vitamins?

Before knowing whether vitamin supplements cause more harm than good, it is important to know why we need vitamins in the first place. Different vitamins perform different functions in the body. Citing an example vitamin A is extremely important for vision. Thus an individual with Vitamin A deficiency will have problems seeing things properly.[1]

However, the pertinent question to ask here is that, is vitamin supplements the only solution. The answer to this is, it is not necessary to go straight to supplements in cases of vitamin deficiency. If an individual maintains a healthy balanced diet full of fruits and vegetables, it should suffice for whatever vitamin deficiency that individual may be having.[1]

Do Vitamin Supplements Cause More Harm Than Good?

The answer to this question is YES, too much of vitamin supplements can indeed spell trouble for individuals. Every vitamin has a daily recommended dosage, which is required by the body and vitamin supplements contain more than what is required. Thus, if an individual is completely malnourished, which is not often the case, then he or she does not require excess of vitamins.[1]

Now, the question is what happens if vitamin supplements are taken in excess. A study that collected data from approximately 50,000 patients concluded that people who took excess of vitamin supplements had increased mortality rate. Another study conducted only on females came to a conclusion that excess of vitamin supplements increased the risk for skin cancer.[1]

However, this study was true for people who took multiple vitamin supplements. The results were not that much alarming for people who took just a single vitamin supplement albeit it still carried risks.[1]

Effects of Excessive Vitamin A Supplements: Vitamin A is essential for a good vision and boosts the immune system of the body.(2) Ideally, eating yellow colored fruits like orange, or having a butternut squash is good enough to provide the necessary vitamin A to the body. However, despite this if people take Vitamin A supplements through beta carotene, then it may call for trouble as this increase the vulnerability of the individual of developing malignant condition like lung cancer.[1]

This risk rises exponentially if the individual is a smoker. A study conducted showed that approximately 30% of people who took excess of Vitamin A through supplements had increased risk of cancer.[1]

Effects of Excessive Vitamin E Supplements: Similarly, Vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant and helps fighting off many infections is found in abundance in green leafy vegetables, which suffices for the amount that is required by the body.(3) However, when excess of Vitamin E supplements are taken, it can severely dent the functioning of the body.[1]

In fact, a study showed that people who took excess of Vitamin E in the form of supplements had increased risk for cardiovascular illness.(4) Another study done in 2011 where around 30,000 subjects were studied came to a conclusion that men who were involved with excessive intake of Vitamin E supplement had increased risk for prostate cancer.(5)

Effects of Excessive Calcium Supplements: This is yet another supplement, which people thrive on; especially females who are recommended calcium supplements as they grow old to protect bones and prevent osteoporosis at an early age. Despite all these benefits, excessive intake of calcium supplement has been shown to increase risk of hip fractures.(6) Studies have also revealed that excess of calcium supplementation increased risk for cardiovascular diseases and increased mortality.[1]


In conclusion, people perceive taking vitamin supplements as the best way of providing nutrition to the body as opposed to the natural way of eating a healthy and well balanced diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Supplements have their own benefits in providing the same level of nutrition that fruit and vegetables provide, but excess of these vitamins also are a cause for worry.

Taking excess vitamins not only increases mortality, but also puts the individual at risk for potentially serious medical conditions. Thus, it is best to speak to a physician before starting a vitamin supplement and ensure that the physician is kept in loop when increasing the quantity of supplements; so as to prevent any unwarranted complications arising out of excessive vitamin supplementation intake.[1]


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 8, 2022

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