Is it okay to have more of a certain nutrient?


How important is it to have a balanced nutrient intake in your diet? Is it okay to have more of a certain nutrient?

The goal of eating a balanced amount of nutrients is to eat a wide variety of foods from all food groups (meat, starch, vegetables, fruit, dairy, and healthy fats) that will give you 100% of your RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) for your gender and age. If you are unsure of how much of each vitamin and mineral you need, enter your physical data into my Healthy Body Calculator®. Vitamins and minerals are measured as milligrams or micrograms which are really tiny amounts. For example, there is only 1 teaspoon of iron in your entire body yet it is really important to form hemoglobin in red blood cells that carry oxygen.

While you can eat more foods with any nutrient, most foods are a mixture of nutrients (vitamins and minerals) rather than sources of a single nutrient.  This is why we encourage people to eat food rather than take vitamin and mineral supplements.

Some nutrients are stored in your body. It could become hazardous to eat too much of any nutrient that your body stores. For instance, you would have to eat a lot of carrots (vitamin A carotene) daily for your skin or eyes to start turning orange. I had a patient who was drinking a glass of carrot juice daily, but when she stopped drinking carrot juice on my recommendation, her skin returned to her natural color and the whites of her eyes returned to white rather than yellow.  Her doctor was testing her for liver disease due to her jaundiced appearance and as I suspected her liver tests turned out normal.

Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K are stored in your body mostly in your liver.  You would not want to overeat foods rich in these nutrients. Whereas water-soluble vitamins B1 thiamin, B2 riboflavin, B3 niacin, B6, B12, and C are not stored in your body and need to be replenished daily so it would be ok to have an excess of water-soluble vitamins, but no more than 200% of any you need. I would definitely not recommend getting mega doses (10 times the amount you need) or vitamins tho that would be usually difficult but to the amount of food, you would have to eat to excess. Weight gain could be the result. Since people eat food not nutrients, please read my vitamin FAQs (frequently asked questions) to learn nutrient-rich sources of vitamins.

Minerals are not usually a problem with having too much unless of course, you are taking too much of a supplement with large doses of minerals. Since your kidneys filter your blood and excrete the excess in urine, excess minerals like calcium and phosphorus could lead to kidney or bladder stones.