Vitamins: Healthy Yet Harmful in High Doses

4 years 4 months 3 weeks ago November 29, 2012 Nov 29, 2012 Thursday, November 29 2012 Thursday, November 29, 2012 3:22:00 PM CST in News
By: Ally Crutcher
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COLUMBIA - Pharmacists recommend a daily multivitamin for the average person.  As winter temperatures arrive, customers are seeking individual vitamins as opposed to a multi supplement.  Certain vitamins, though, can actually do more harm than good in higher than recommended doses.

Bill Morrissey is the main pharmacist at Kilgore's Pharmacy on Providence Road.  He said he gets customers that ask, "I don't eat a good lunch, what can I take?"  In cases like those, a multivitamin is best.  Other people may look for specific vitamins, like vitamin C, during cold and flu season.

There are two kinds of vitamins: fat soluble and water soluble.  The fat soluble vitamins are the ones human bodies can store in excess: vitamins A, D, E and K.  Morrissey said other vitamins are capable of reaching higher doses as well.

"High levels of Vitamin C, over 2,000 milligrams, has some risks associated with it," he said.

Morrissey said vitamin needs can be dependent on the person.  A doctor may prescribe someone to take more of a particular vitamin given his or her circumstances.  Otherwise, he said a multivitamin usually will do just fine.

Iron is a common mineral customers buy.  Too much iron, however, can be harsh on the stomach and cause stomach cramps.  Niacin can have a similar effect.  Doctors may prescribe niacin to help fight cholesterol, but too much of it can actually cause a warming sensation in the stomach.  Another case in which an extra dose may be recommended is if someone is anemic, and would then need more iron.

Kilgore's sees customers buying more of the individual vitamins as the seasons change, especially this time of year.

"I see a lot more Vitamin C being purchased, people typically go towards that to build their immune system. Also people want energy so they go towards the B-12 vitamins," said Amanda Himmelberg, one of the cashiers at Kilgore's.

Pharmacists suggest trying to get vitamins and nutrients through diet first before taking supplements.  The darker green, orange and yellow fruits and vegetables are naturally high in vitamins C and A.  Morrissey said everything in moderation is a good rule of thumb in terms of any vitamin or mineral.  He also said it is advised to check with a doctor before consuming a higher dosage of any one vitamin or mineral.

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