Safety of micronutrients – Part 2: Water-soluble vitamins
Insufficient and excessive consumption of nutrients can both increase the risk of damage to health. As intake is increased, the risk of developing a harmful nutrient deficiency falls until the intake reaches an amount that is regarded as adequate (recommended daily amount). Above this amount (tolerable upper intake level or UL) toxic effects may be seen that once more increase the risk of damage to health. How the body reacts to the consumption of specific micronutrients depends on the dosage and on the consumer’s baseline nutrient status. If nutrient levels are already high, increasing consumption is likely to increase the risk of toxicity. With vitamins as with all nutrients: more is not always better. This also applies to water-soluble vitamins, although these do not accumulate in the body to the same degree as the fat-soluble vitamins.
Are dietary supplements useful?
Discussions about the sense and nonsense of dietary supplements take place regularly. Studies suggesting that high doses of vitamins and minerals may even shorten lives are gladly taken up by the media and enhance this dispute, the result of which being that many consumers who had previously been promised a health benefit of supplements are sometimes left feeling very uncertain. An adequate intake of micronutrients is essential to life, while excessive intakes, of anything, can be harmful. Recently, US experts stated that health care professionals should not base their guidance on emotional opinions regarding the source of nutrients (food vs. supplement); they need to focus on the outcome – remedying nutrient gaps to optimize nutritional status for long-term health. Health is affected by nutritional status, not by the source of nutrients.
A new US study reports that many patients with epilepsy using antiepileptic drugs are vitamin D deficient and have a higher risk of poor bone health and fractures.
According to a new US review big portions of the populations do not meet the estimated required intakes of vitamin E, which is particularly important for all children through about age two, for women who are pregnant and for the elderly.