Could your supplements be making you sick? Mine were!

Could your supplements be making you sick? Mine were!


One day, I started having severe nerve discomfort in my legs, it felt like cold water running down my calves into my feet and then it progressed to tingling over the next few days to weeks.  After assessing everything I was doing, I discovered I was overdosing myself with B6!

When I was in college, I started having a lot of joint pain and muscles aches, severe fatigue, fibromyalgia and autoimmune thyroid issues.  My body was falling apart.  Literally!  My husband pointed out that I “ate like crap”.  And he was right!  On my assessment of my food intake, it consisted of a honey bun and a coke for breakfast, Taco Bell or McDonald’s for lunch and we’d go out for pizza or something after I got home from school or make something quick as I was always studying.

I was so tired I could barely function and in fact, had a car accident falling asleep at the wheel!

When he pointed out my diet… I was a little freaked out and never really thought that what I was putting in my body was making me sick, but more so what I wasn’t!  The nutrition that my body needed to function properly.  Not just at a minimum to prevent disease but for optimal function. 

I started taking supplements (this was over 30 years ago) and never stopped. I felt a health and vitality that I had not ever experienced in my life! I went to medical school and made it my mission to help others understand the power of their choices!

Of course I’ve changed things up and as I’ve done my research over the years, and have discovered that sometimes it takes more or less of something for optimal levels, and through blood tests and genetic tests can optimize a persons individual requirements. 

One day, I started having severe nerve discomfort in my legs, it felt like cold water running down my calves into my feet and then it progressed to tingling over the next few days to weeks.  After assessing everything I was doing, I discovered I was overdosing myself with B6

I added up all the B6 amounts I was taking in my supplements and found that I had gone over levels that my body didn’t need and in fact was causing neuropathy issues.  I cut back and the symptoms went away, but how many people take supplements and don’t know what they are really doing, and could be causing more harm.

So how do you know how much you need?

Reading Labels and the 5/20 Rule

Reading food labels can be tricky if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for, or looking at. The percent daily value listed on the right of all food labels lets you know what percent out of the recommended daily intake of each nutrient you are consuming in that specific food. 

Some categories listed on the food label should be consumed in small amounts, such as sodium, while you may want to increase your intake in other categories, such as fiber. 

Though not an end-all test, a quick way to read the percent daily values is to use the 5/20 rule. This says that if the %DV is less than 5% there is a low amount of this nutrient, while if the %DV is greater than 20% there is a high amount of this nutrient. This can help you quickly pick foods to eat to help you with increasing or decreasing the amount of nutrients you are consuming.

Just a little info for understanding food labels.  The more you know, the better you are equipped to know if you are getting enough nutrition through out the day or if you need supplementation.  

It’s a little work at first but a few days of logging your nutrition needs can make all the difference. 

NOTE: If a food doesn’t have a “nutrition facts label”, it’s probably full of nutrients!  Like broccoli or apples!  Nature doesn’t need a nutrition facts label.

So the question comes up a lot, how much should you take.  While everyone is different and genetic differences can make a big difference in how much a person needs or metabolizes, there is still a standard base to start from. 

Many of the terms you see on labels or supplement websites can help you understand how much of the vitamin or mineral you should take. For example, here are some guidelines set up by the Institute of Medicine:

The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) and the AI (Adequate Intake) are the amounts of a vitamin or mineral you need to keep healthy and stay well-nourished. They're tailored to women, men, and specific age groups.

The UL (Tolerable Upper Intake Level) is the maximum amount of daily vitamins and minerals that you can safely take without risk of an overdose or serious side effects. For certain nutrients, the higher you go above the UL, the greater the chance you'll have problems.

Separate from the RDA and the UL, the Food and Drug Administration uses a different measure for the nutrients you need:

The DV (Daily Value) is the only measurement you'll find on food and supplement labels. That's because space is limited, and there's a need for one single reference number. That number is the amount of a vitamin or nutrient that you should get for top health from a diet of 2,000 calories a day. The DV is sometimes the same as the RDA.

Although the details may be different, remember that the RDA and DV are both set up to help you get the nutrients you need to prevent disease and avoid problems caused by lack of nutrition.

How Much Is Too Much?

Because high doses of some supplements can have risks, how do you know when it's OK to take more than the RDA or DV?

One way is to look for the UL (tolerable upper intake level) of a nutrient. With many vitamins and minerals, you can safely take a dose much higher than the RDA or DV without coming close to the UL.

For instance, the average person can take more than 50 times the RDA of vitamin B6 without reaching the upper limit. But some people develop symptoms of nerve pain with these higher levels of B6. So you should always be cautious. Here are some things to keep in mind:

Some supplements are riskier than others. With some vitamins and minerals, the upper limit is pretty close to the RDA. So it's easy to get too much. For example, a man who takes just over three times the RDA of vitamin A would get more than the upper limit. High doses of vitamin A -- and other fat-soluble vitamins like E and K -- can build up in the body and become toxic. Other risky supplements include the minerals iron and selenium.

Supplements are designed to be additions to your diet. Popping pills is not the answer to good health. Experts say you should eat a well-balanced diet and take supplements to fill in any nutritional gaps. Some people take a multivitamin with minerals for nutritional insurance.

The UL is often the limit for all sources of a nutrient. It can include the amount you get from both food and supplements. So when you figure out whether you've reached the UL on a particular nutrient, take into account the food you eat.

You won't find the UL on food nutrition labels or on your vitamin bottle. It's not a number that most people know about. But you'll see it on government websites. And there's a complete list of nutrients with ULs at the end of this article.

Most supplements don't have a UL -- or RDA or DV. The government has only set levels for a fraction of the vitamins and supplements available. For most of the supplements you see on the shelves, experts really don't know the ideal or maximum dose.

Many nutrients, in too high a dose, can be dangerous. To be on the safe side, steer clear of the UL for any nutrient. And if you have a health condition, check with your doctor before you take supplements. They can tell you if they have side effects or interfere with other medicines you use.


So HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED of the basics?  Here is a table to help you assess some of the most vital nutrients for your diet.  Of course I recommend getting your blood tested for individual needs and genetic testing if warranted.  Many defieincy propensities can be found in the DNA. 



or Mineral
Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) or Adequate Intake (AI)
Nutrients with AIs are marked with an (*)
Upper Tolerable Limit (UL)
The highest amount you can take without risk
Not determined.
20 mg/day
  • Age 19-50: 1,000 mg/day
  • Women age 51+: 1,200 mg/day
  • Men age 71+: 1,200 mg/day
  • Age19-50: 2,500 mg/day

  • Age 51 and up: 2,000 mg/day

  • Age 19-50: 2,300 mg/day
  • Age 50-70: 2,000 mg/day
  • Age 70 and older: 1,800 mg/day
3,600 mg/day
(Vitamin B complex)
  • Women: 425 mg/day *
  • Men: 550 mg/day *
3,500 mg/day

900 micrograms/day

10,000 mcg/day
  • Men: 4 mg/day *
  • Women: 3 mg/day *
10 mg/day

400 mcg/day

1,000 mcg/day

This applies only to synthetic folic acid in supplements or fortified foods. There is no upper limit for folic acid from natural sources.

150 mcg/day

1,100 mcg/day
  • Men: 8 mg/day
  • Women age 19-50: 18 mg/day
  • Women age 51 and up: 8 mg/day
45 mg/day
  • Men age 19-30: 400 mg/day
  • Men age 31 and up: 420 mg/day
  • Women age 19-30: 310 mg/day
  • Women age 31 and up:320 mg/day

350 mg/day



This applies only to magnesium in supplements or fortified foods. There is no upper limit for magnesium in food and water.



  • Men: 2.3 mg/day *
  • Women: 1.8 mg/day*
11 mg/day
45 mcg/day
2,000 mcg/day
Not determined
1 mg/day
700 mg/day
  • Up to age 70: 4,000 mg/day
  • Over age 70: 3,000 mg/day

55 mcg/day

400 mcg/day
  • Age 19-50: 1,500 mg/day *
  • Age 51-70: 1,300 mg/day *
  • Age 71 and up: 1,200 mg/day *
2,300 mg/day
Not determined
1.8 mg/day
  • Men: 900 mcg/day
  • Women: 700 mcg/day
3,000 mcg/day
Vitamin B3(Niacin)
  • Men: 16 mg/day
  • Women: 14 mg/day

35 mg/day

This applies only to niacin in supplements or fortified foods. There is no upper limit for niacin in natural sources.

  • Men age 19-50: 1.3 mg/day
  • Men age 51 up:1.7 mg/day
  • Women age 19-50: 1.3 mg/day
  • Women age 51 up: 1.5 mg/day
100 mg/day
  • Men: 90 mg/day
  • Women: 75 mg/day
2,000 mg/day
Vitamin D(Calciferol)
  • Age 1-70: 15 mcg/day
    (600 IU, or international units) *
  • Age 70 and older: 20 mcg/day (800 IU) *

100 mcg/day
(4,000 IU)

Vitamin E
  • 22.4 IU/day
    (15 mg/day)
1,500 IU/day
(1,000 mg/day)

This applies only to vitamin E in supplements or fortified foods. There is no upper limit for vitamin E from natural sources.
  • Men: 11 mg/day
  • Women: 8 mg/day
40 mg/day


 I highly recommend an app like for tracking and assessment of your individual needs, what you are taking in and what may be too much. 

Check out our line of Health & Wellness Products for excellent sources of all your base nutrient requirements.


Back to blog