How Much is Too Much Nutritional Supplement?

The "if a little is good, more must be better" theory doesn't apply to nutritional supplements

Credit: Flickr/LiuTao

Taking too many nutritional supplements is expensive and unnecessary

Some people take nutritional supplementation to an extreme, popping 25 or more pills a day

While I believe taking some supplements can be beneficial, I do question the logic of shoving handfuls of vitamins, herbs and minerals down your throat on a daily basis.

Nutritional Supplements Are Unproven, Expensive and Potentially Harmful

First of all, there’s no proof that taking most of these supplements will actually do anything to improve your health or fitness.

And excessive supplementation is expensive. You can easily end up spending a few hundred dollars a month if you buy into all the health claims touted by the supplement companies. You’re better off spending more money on fresh fruits and vegetables.

You can also overdose on certain vitamins or minerals by taking too many pills and powders. When you eat real food your body will take all the nutrients it needs and discard the rest. For example, beta-carotene found in oranges and yellow vegetables gets converted to Vitamin A in the body. But when you’ve had enough the body stops converting it so you’ll never take too much Vitamin A from fruits or vegetables.

Rely on Real Food, Not Supplements

Your body can only absorb so much of a specific nutrient at any one time. At best, ingesting large amounts of vitamins and minerals at once will only cause them to be eliminated out the other end. At worst, you can develop reactions and medical conditions by taking in too much.

Supplements should be used as the name implies, as a supplement to your regular diet. Most of your food intake should be unprocessed real food.

Your body is a wonderfully complex mechanism. We are only beginning to scratch the surface of understanding the interaction between food and the human organism. Real food such as fruits and vegetables have numerous compounds that can benefit your health, and your body knows how to extract those nutrients from these foods. Taking a pill that only contains a specific nutrient or a few nutrients may not have the same effect.

Rate Your Plate

An excellent website with some nifty interactive tools is You can get specific recommendations for how many fruits and vegetables you need every day based on age, sex and activity level. And the “Analyze My Plate” tool provides an easy, fast way to assess a particular meal. You can also search for recipes by choosing particular fruits and vegetables.

Enjoy getting your nutrients from real food and take a few supplements to round out your nutrition program.