Toxicity of Nutrition

I recall my dad coming home one day extremely excited. He had read somewhere that if you load up on your nutrients, it can significantly prolong your life. High doses of nutrients were the magic elixir that would grant all of us eternal life, or so he believed. The nutrition you consume consists of something called micronutrients. These are also known as Vitamins and Minerals. Generally speaking, most micronutrients are not toxic and do not have an upper limit for consumption which means that even if you overdose, it will not cause harm. However, there are a few that can lead to toxicity or even poisoning if consumed in quantities beyond what is prescribed.

For example, the upper limit for zinc is 40 milligrams per day or 10 milligrams per day for copper. We are talking about micro quantities. Imagine you read a magazine that was advocating drinking copper water. Without realizing it, you switched to drinking water from a copper jug all day long. Drinking water this way could easily translate into excessive amounts of copper in your diet especially if some of the other foods you consume also contain copper. Many medications also include trace amounts of minerals, and unless you are keeping track, it is not hard to exceed your limit.

Let’s get back to my dad for a minute. Without due research, he began to take large doses of supplements of minerals and vitamins. I think I recall all of us kids thinking he was crazy, but then don’t all kids think their parents are crazy? That could hardly be a reason to dismiss his claims of eternal life. Fortunately, he didn’t continue on his quest for too long and soon stopped taking the supplements. I would like to believe he ended up in a “no harm, no foul” state. He continues to remain in good health (touch wood) and hopefully will find his magic potion soon.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.