Julie Busch, MD, board-certified family practice, Kirkwood Family Medicine
Can vitamins be bad for me?
Yes, high doses of vitamins, especially fat soluble vitamins, can be dangerous. For example:
Beta carotene supplements have been shown to increase the risk of lung cancer in already high-risk adults, such as smokers.
Vitamin A, even at normal doses, is a risk factor for osteopenia and fractures.
Vitamin A at doses of 10,000IU per day can cause birth defects.
High doses of vitamin E (greater than 400IU daily) have been shown to increase mortality and heart failure.
Ask the Doc
Do I need a daily multivitamin?
Maybe. If you eat a well-balanced diet, get regular sun exposure, and drink vitamin D-fortified dairy products, you may not need to take daily vitamins. Contrary to some claims, there is no strong evidence that vitamins prevent cancer or heart disease. However, some vitamins are highly beneficial, especially for those with specific medical concerns.
Here are some recommendations:
Pregnant Women — All women of childbearing age or trying to conceive should take 4-8 mg of folic acid daily to decrease the risk of neural tube defects in babies.
Osteoporosis — Those diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis should take 800 IU of vitamin D daily with calcium to decrease the risk of fractures. Avoid vitamin A, which has the opposite effect.
Elderly — Vitamin B-12 deficiency is common, so 2.4 mcg per day is recommended.
Restricted diets — Vegans, vegetarians and others should talk with their doctor about recommended levels of vitamin B-12 and D.
Illness or Disease — Those on dialysis, those who have had gastric bypass surgery, or those who are alcoholics usually are vitamin deficient and require supplements.
Unless you have a specific recommendation from your physician, do not take high doses of any vitamin. A daily vitamin is safe for most people, but talk with your doctor about your individual needs.
For information, please call our Health Access Line at 314-ANTHONY (268-4669) or 800-554-9550 or visit find a physician online.
At St. Anthony's, our vision is to be the area's premier health care organization
— and your first choice for health care services.