Point by point how do you answer charges that

Too much vitamin A causes birth defects, dry skin, scaly skin, headaches, fatigue, painful bones and loss of appetite?

Vitamin A in excess may give rise to all the symptoms listed here, just as a deficiency of the vitamin also gives rise to unhealthy symptoms. However, the smallest daily supplement generally considered to generate any risk of birth defects is 25,000 IU per day. To be on the safe side, it is recommended that pregnant women should take no more than 10,000 IU per day. Packaging of products containing vitamin A now carry a warning to this effect.

With regard to the other problems associated with vitamin A useage, the scientific literature shows that vitamin a is safe in adult men and post-menopausal women at a dose of 30,000 IU per day. This is about several times the dose of vitamin A found in multivitamin supplements.

Too much vitamin D leads to high blood calcium, headaches and appetite loss? Vitamin D plays an essential role in the absorption of calcium from the gut and may therefore help prevent osteoporosis and other conditions. Recent tests showed that the majority of elderly people are deficient in vitamin D. The toxic effects of vitamin D have been found only at doses which exceed 2,000 IU per day in adults. This is many times the dose found in multivitamin supplements. The danger occurs when an over-zealous person misguidedly takes prolonged mega doses of the individual vitamin, without having a severe deficiency proven by tests (mega doses of vitamins are sometimes appropriate to deal with deficiency symptoms but this is best administered with the guidance of a nutrition consultant or doctor).

Too much vitamin E can thin the blood and may be dangerous for those on certain medications?

Vitamin E is a natural blood thinner, which in part accounts for its beneficial effect in the prevention and treatment of heart disease. Certain medications, notably warfarin, also thin the blood and this effect may be enhanced too far by the additional taking of vitamin E. For this reason it is generally advised that individuals on warfarin or other anti-coagulant medication do not take vitamin E. If you are receiving medication for any health problem you should always check with your doctor before taking nutritional supplements (or any other dietary change) in case there is such a contra-indication.

Too much folic acid can disguise a deficiency in B12 with potentially serious neurological consequences?

It is true that folic acid supplements may mask the symptoms of vitamin B12

deficiency. Nerve damage can result, which may not be responsive to further B12 supplementation. For this reason, it is an established natural health practice that folic acid is given either with B12 or as part of a B Complex supplement containing B12. It is actually conventional doctors who tend to prescribe use of folic acid on its own.

The same is true for other nutrients: just as each can have a beneficial preventative or healing effect, if taken over-zealously, in isolation, in excess amounts over a long period, or if taken inappropriately, then harm can result. But don't be scared off from using supplementation by such stories of what can happen if they are used misguidedly. They are safe if used sensibly, and more than that, they can help you lead a healthier, longer life!

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