What Nutrients Can I Overeat?

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I was sent a nutrition question that other day and since I can’t answer those, I pulled in one of my Nashville nutritionist friends, Trish Gomez.

Nutrition Question:
Basically I was wondering if you know if there are any nutrients that is always OK to go over your daily recommended limit, which are actually beneficial to go over your limit, and which it does not matter if you go over your daily limit. This actually seems to be pretty hard to figure out, coz’ some things are conditionally OK to go over, depending on what you are trying to actually do, like protein for example. I guess I’m wondering if there are any dead certain ones that’s OK to go over.

Trish’s Answer:
Wow, that is a loaded question.  I’m afraid he or she may not like my answer.  That’s because there is no one set answer. It depends on several factors.

For instance,  what “recommended limit” are we talking about.  If we consider the RDA’s, they are set to meet the minimum needs of most healthy people.  But over the years since the RDA’s were created, our food supply has changed, and the health and nutritional status of the population has changed.  Many experts feel that the current RDA’s are too low for most people.

Vitamin C, for example, has an RDA of 60 mg.  But many individuals, myself included, take at least 500mg daily.  Some people recommend taking doses as high as 5,000 mg.  Because Vitamin C is water soluble, most people think it is safe to take as much as you want, and that the excess will spill over into your urine. The potential problem, though, is that there is the time in which it takes the body to process the vitamin.  And if we continue to supplement with megadoses over an extended period of time, there is the potential for toxicities to develop before our bodies have the time to process the excess.

He is right, that it is hard to figure out, because it is very conditional, on the nutrient itself, some definitely have a greater potential to become dangerous at high levels.  Fat soluble vitamins A,D, E, and K are much more likely to become toxic at high levels.  It also depends on the individual’s nutritional status.  Many of us are deficient in Vitamin D, and should be taking therapeutic doses of 2,000 IU, up to 10,000 units (under MD supervision), while the RDA for an adult female is only 600 International Units.  The RDA’s also differ according to age and sex.

Many experts feel that the RDA’s are much lower than they need to be for the average healthy person.  So I feel it is safe to say that it is “ok” to go over the RDA’s for all nutrients, however, how much over is the question, and it  really differs according to each specific nutrient, the age and gender of the individual, the current  health and nutritional status of the person concerned.

I’d say that the current recommendations are outdated, and many scientists are recommending revisiting them.  I hope that that is helpful, but I have a feeling it will send this inquirer home with more work to do….

Have a nutrition question you want a REAL answer to (i.e. NOT yahoo answers)?  You can ask Trish directly or send them to me and we’ll post the answer!

Keep the questions and comments coming!


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