When Good Pills Do Bad Things?

There was a time when healthy food was expensive and nutritious diets were difficult to maintain. The FDA set minimum dosages on specific vitamin and mineral intake in order to avoid diseases. Now that healthy food is plentiful, and inexpensive common foods are fortified with vitamins, vitamin, and mineral deficiencies are rare, and vitamin toxicities are a concern. The FDA has now set upper limits on vitamin intakes for certain vitamins and minerals.

There are 31 essential nutrients that were evaluated by the FDA’s advisors. Our bodies cannot make these chemicals and they are necessary for our biochemical reactions. We must obtain these essential nutrients from food in order to survive and avoid disease. However, there are exceptions. Our bodies make vitamin D from cholesterol in the skin when sunlight activates it. Also, the bacteria in our gut make vitamin K and vitamin B’s in minimal amounts.

Of these nutrients, 14 of them are vitamins and the rest, 17, are minerals. Half of the vitamins have maximum dosages not to be exceeded according to the FDA.

All 17 minerals have upper limits listed except arsenic, silicon, and chromium. It’s already been established that most minerals should be consumed in trace amounts.

Below is a list of the most common essential nutrients that have upper limits set by the Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies. They are the advisors to the FDA. The National Academies are private, nonprofit institutions that provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the FDA and conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions related to science, technology, and medicine. The Academies operate under an 1863 congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences, signed by President Lincoln.

Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Tolerable Upper Intake Levels, Elements Food and Nutrition Board, Institute `

Vitamin A 3,000 µg/d Teratological effects, liver toxicity The FDA minimized the problems with vitamin A orally. Only eye doctors, oncologists, and dermatologists should be recommending this vitamin. It’s great topically for amazing skin
Vitamin D 4,000 IU/d

(the max daily allowance for those older than 71 yrs old is 800 IU/d)

Hypercalcemia, which can lead to decreased renal function and hypercalciuria, kidney failure, cardiovascular system failure, and calcification of soft tissues. Normalizing this deficiency will extend life, increase energy levels, reduce the occurrence of infection & will improve any disease state. Renal/cardiovascular consequences are serious. It causes too much calcium and phosphate absorption. Monitoring blood levels is key! Home monitoring blood kits need to be invented if they haven’t been already.
Vitamin E 1,000 mg/d Hemorrhagic toxicity There are more concerns not mentioned here. It’s best when used topically for great skin.
Niacin 35 mg/d Flushing and gastrointestinal distress It’s useless for cardiovascular disease, but a good pre-workout supplement due to its role in making ATP.
Vitamin B6
100 mg/d Sensory neuropathy Symptom severity appears to be dose-dependent, & symptoms stop when it is discontinued.
Folate 1,000 µg/d Masks neurological complications in people with vitamin B12 deficiency. Applies to synthetic forms There’s a concern that too much can cause cancer, and not enough can also cause cancer. Food sources deliver the perfect amount.
Vitamin C 2,000 mg/d GI disturbances, kidney stones, excess iron absorption. It’s one of the first vitamins to get depleted in times of physical stress, dehydration, famine, exposure to toxins….etc. Our skin loves this vitamin.
Choline 3,500 mg/d Fishy body odor, sweating, salivation, hypotension, hepatotoxicity. It is on the FDA vitamin list with upper limits, so I mentioned it. No one ever asks me about this vitamin.
Calcium 2000mg/d
2,500 mg/d for 31-50yr old females
Kidney stones, hypercalcemia, hypercalciuria, prostate cancer, constipation, soft tissue calcification You need hormones to put the calcium in your bones. Do not take this in excess with excess vitamin D. Soft tissue calcification and metastatic calcification, means you are turning into a stone statue. See phosphorous
Phosphorous 4,000 mg/d Metastatic calcification, skeletal porosity with calcium absorption. Fitness gurus use this because it’s part of ATP and energy production. Food sources are the safest. The side effects from pills/powders are very serious.
Selenium 400 µg/d Hair and nail brittleness and loss. Hair loss is a mysterious and concerning effect
Special note: The above chart was formulated from the 2 following charts put out by the FDA.1,2


Vitamins and minerals are natural, but they are not always safe in UNnatural doses from synthetic forms. The goal is to have vitamin levels in the healthy zone. Just like food, water, oxygen, sunshine, too much or too little has adverse effects. In the hospital, we measure calcium, sodium, potassium, phosphate, chloride, magnesium. All these natural elements need to be in the natural zone, otherwise, bad things happen. This pattern repeats itself in many places in life. It appears that this pattern applies to vitamins as well.

I’m so thankful that laboratories are now developing the capabilities to measure vitamin levels in the blood. But this information should not be limited to doctors. We need home blood monitoring kits for consumers to check their vitamin levels at home. Times are changing and people are now making major health decisions for themselves. I see “at-home diagnostic testing” as a major opportunity for smart entrepreneurs to make money.

Most medical doctors use vitamins to restore and prevent deficiencies. They do not prescribe pills, including nutraceuticals, without an indication. There has to be a reason or purpose for prescribing and recommending pills. I agree with this philosophy and it is my opinion that only people who need vitamins benefit from them. People who do not need vitamins do not benefit them.

The FDA’s NIH website recommends vitamins for special populations in need. (See the NIH website under Special Considerations for Certain Population Groups https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/MVMS-HealthProfessional/ ) They are the following: people who have anything wrong with their intestines, (celiac, gastric bypass, crones, and ulcerative colitis) vegans, people with impoverished diets from third world counties, or who live in institutions; people over 50 years old; people who are pregnant and nursing.

I also believe the following groups benefit from vitamins: chronic alcohol drinkers, people who are on chronic medications that cause vitamin deficiencies, smokers, marathon runners, and those who exercise excessively.

Taking vitamins should be very individualized in my opinion. It should be based on the person’s blood work, various diagnostic tests, existing medical conditions, and lifestyle. In my opinion. I don’t routinely make blind recommendations.


Institute of Medicine, National Academies. Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Elements Food and Nutrition Board. National Academies website. http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Nutrition/DRI-Tables/6_%20Elements%20Summary.pdf?la=en. Accessed May 1, 2017.

Institute of Medicine, National Academies. Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Elements Food and Nutrition Board. National Academies website.http://www.nationalacademies.org/hmd/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Nutrition/DRI-Tables/7_%20Nutrients%20Summary.pdf?la=en. Accessed May 1, 2017.

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