There's No Such Thing As Too Much Power And This Guy Proves It! | EpicTV Climbing Daily, Ep. 509
Is There Such A Thing As Too Much Vitamin C?
Reader question: I've heard that some supplements can be bad because they give you too much. Which ones should I watch out for?
Ashley’s answer: You are asking such an important question! Recently, a dieitian colleague from the Cleveland Clinic addressed this same issue, so I wanted to share as well as add on a bit.
A key point is that the word "supplement" by definition means "in addition to"—in the case of nutrition, a healthy diet. It doesn't mean "to supply all the nutrients for a healthy diet." There isn't a need for a supplement to provide more than a day's worth of nutrients. And sometimes, because all life stages have different nutrient needs, you may not need any (or you may need much less than a daily dose of a specific nutrient.)
To simplify your supplement choices, it's helpful to think of them as "supplemental food" instead of "dietary supplements". You should hold your supplements to the same standard that you do your food choices. For example, if you're trying to load up on vitamin C, you'd probably eat an orange, but you'll get more than ascorbic acid: think water, fiber, antioxidants, and carbohydrates. Supplemental food should deliver the same nutrition—not just nutrient value, but the same whole food nutrition. Also, when it comes to food, we know that too much of a good thingispossible. An orange is great for you, but 10 in a single sitting, not so much! So when a supplement delivers 1,000 mg of vitamin C per serving, that's way too much vitamin C (hundreds of times more than the daily dose of 60 mg). Research shows that can be harmful, not helpful.
Another example would be calcium supplements, which I discussed in a previous post. Making the choice to consume calcium from plants (algae) versus rock (think chalk) delivers many trace minerals that help ensure the calcium is recognized and used properly in the body. Yes, calcium builds strong bones, but in the absence of proper nutrients it can also become plaque in your arteries.
Finally, there are some nutrients like iron that we should supplement if we're deficient or if we have increased need for it in a certain lifestage. However, at other times in our lives it would be harmful to supplement with that nutrient (for example, adult men or menopausal women). So be wary of supplements that seem designed for everyone.
How can you be sure of what you need at this lifestage? Your best option is to work with your healthcare practitioner to identify any changes in your blood levels. Don't forget to assess yourself physically! Remember, the body will prioritize where it needs nutrients most (i.e. in the blood). "Normal" levels don't always tell the whole story, especially if you don't feel your best. Look at marked changes in your body, not just whether your levels are within a norm.
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