When it comes to vitamins, more does not necessarily mean better. A man in Australia lost his ability to walk after consuming 70 times the recommended daily allowance of vitamin B6.
The 86-year-old man was previously active and living independently, his daughter Alison Taylor told North County Tribune. Then a blood test revealed that he was slightly deficient in vitamin B6.
86-year-old man took an overdose of vitamin B – with health consequences
Taylor said her father had no symptoms of ill health, but that his doctor prescribed a 50-milligram vitamin B6 supplement to increase his levels. Vitamin B6, like other B vitamins, helps the body convert food into energy by breaking down carbohydrates and proteins. Research suggests it may support the body’s immune system and certain brain functions.
But 50 milligrams is much higher than the standard recommended dose in both Australia and the US, which is 1.7 milligrams of vitamin B6 per day for men over 50. In fact, most people should get enough B6 by eating standard foods like chicken, potatoes, or even spaghetti sauce.
The new, high-dose multivitamin wasn’t the only B6 in the man’s diet: He was also taking a magnesium supplement containing B6 and eating B6-fortified breakfast cereals.
Within months he lost feeling in his legs and eventually went to the hospital after being unable to walk, Taylor told.
“Twelve months ago he was driving. He’s in aged care now and in a wheelchair,” said Taylor, who didn’t share her father’s name.
More and more people are taking dangerous amounts of dietary supplements
As the wellness industry expands and the demand for supplements increases, more and more people are getting sick from taking too many vitamins or supplements. The number of calls to poison control centers about children who have taken too much melatonin has increased by 530% in America alone in the last decade. Around 180,200 tons of food supplements were produced in Germany in 2020 – almost 11 percent more than in the previous year.
Prevention experts say vitamin A supplements do more harm than good, as taking too many can lead to bone pain and hair loss. According to Harvard Medical School, most Americans are not vitamin B6 deficient thanks to the naturally occurring B6 found in a variety of common foods.
Certain medical conditions, like alcohol addiction and autoimmune disorders, can make people more susceptible to vitamin B6 deficiency, Insider previously reported. A deficiency in the vitamin can cause inflamed skin, a weakened immune system, and depression.
Nerve damage from an overdose of vitamin B6 is rare, according to the American Academy of Neurology, because the water-soluble nutrient is typically whipped out when ingested in excess.
Doses of vitamin B6 that exceed 200 milligrams can cause loss of feeling in the legs due to peripheral neuropathy or nerve damage. According to Mount Sinai, some patients can regain the ability to walk if they stop taking the supplements. Taylor told. she’s not sure her father will make a full recovery, but she hopes physical therapy will help him become less dependent on his wheelchair.