What is a nutrient excess?
Simply put, a nutrient excess means you have more of a particular nutrient than is required for proper metabolic functioning. A nutrient excess can include any essential nutrient (amino acid, fatty acid, vitamin, or mineral), conditionally essential nutrient, or nonessential nutrient.
Are nutrient excesses unhealthy?
Any nutrient excess can be just as detrimental toward your health as a nutrient deficiency. As you know, you are constantly inundated with information concerning the lack of a specific nutrient (nutrient deficiency) and the potential health risk. Unfortunately, you are not equally informed of potential health risks of nutrient excesses.
Every nutrient has a complex interrelationship with numerous other nutrients (amino acids, vitamins, fatty acids, and minerals). As such, all nutrients must remain in a dynamic balance to work together (synergistically) to fulfill any metabolic pathway. If any nutrient becomes excessive, it works against (antagonistic) many of the nutrients it actually needs to work properly. This results in numerous nutrient excesses and deficiencies that may affect your health.
As you may surmise, the resulting nutrient deficiencies may easily manifest myriad symptoms. However, the nutrient excesses may also manifest myriad symptoms as well. Nutrient excesses are burdensome to the mind and body. If the nutrient becomes even more excessive, at some point it has the potential to become toxic to the mind and body.
Let’s look at a few examples of essential nutrient excesses and just a few of the commonly associated symptoms.
- Amino Acid (Arginine) – hypertension, confusion, weakness, nausea
- Omega 3 (EPA) – diarrhea, oily skin and hair, potential increased risk of bleeding and infections
- Mineral (Copper) – anemia, renal disease, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammation
- Vitamin (Vitamin D) – hyperparathyroidism, arterial and other soft tissue calcification
Note: EPA is not an “essential” fatty acid but it is more recognizable by the public than Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA), which is an essential fatty acid that when provided its proper cofactors (i.e., zinc) produce EPA.
Keep in mind, you can choose any nutrient and find a list of potential symptoms associated with an excess of that particular nutrient. Also keep in mind, the list of potential symptoms can be much greater when you factor in the potential nutrient deficiencies created by the dominating nutrient.
Let’s look at an extremely simplified example using calcium.
Too much calcium may increase your potential for bone problems just as easily as too little. Too much calcium becomes metabolically compromised (not properly utilized in its intended metabolic functions) as an integral component for bone health. This is, to some extent, due to its antagonistic effect on the myriad other nutrients absolutely required for bone health. The body will attempt to excrete the excess calcium and it can become deposited (bioaccumulation) in other areas of the mind and body (e.g., deposits in the skin – premature aging, deposits in the arteries – coronary calcification, deposits in the kidneys/gallbladder – stones, and so on).
How does a nutrient excess happen?
Myriad factors contribute toward nutrient excesses. Today, the more common factors include:
- Improper Diet
- Improper Supplementation
- Neuroendocrine Function (nervous systems and associated glands)
- Nutritional Myths
Let’s investigate these a bit further.
An improper diet does not necessarily refer to a diet with an excessive amount of junk foods. Albeit a junk food diet does reap havoc on your nutritional status, let’s concentrate on healthy foods. Yes, your organic diet could easily create nutrient excesses!
As seen in healthy foods, every “healthy food” or “healthy herb” can contribute toward a nutrient excess or a nutrient deficiency. As such, your diet should include healthy foods and a proper balance of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats specific to your unique nutrient needs.
Improper Dietary Supplementation:
Today, dietary supplementation is unscientific, haphazard, and often symptom-based. Most people consume a variety of dietary supplements without knowing they actually need an increase of the particular nutrients they consume. In addition, most supplements are consumed without realizing that every nutrient requires numerous other nutrients to actually work metabolically. We refer to these “other nutrients” as cofactors. As such, consuming any nutrient without its required cofactors could easily result in a nutrient excess as well as a deficiency.
Your neuroendocrine systems (sympathetic and parasympathetic neuroendocrine systems) are an integral part of your metabolism. Each of these systems produces a tremendous influence on your nutritional status. Of course, your nutritional status influences these systems as well. However, as seen in Improve my Energy, your endocrine glands help maintain proper nutrient levels for each of these systems.
For example, your adrenals (cortex and medulla), through various mechanisms, can increase (or decrease) sodium and potassium to excessive levels. Your thyroid/parathyroid can increase or decrease calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous to excessive (or deficient) levels.
In the same manner that all nutrients must remain in a dynamic balance, your neuroendocrine systems must maintain a dynamic balance as well. As such, your neuroendocrine systems must be considered in nutrient excesses and deficiencies.
All toxins (heavy metals, chemical toxins, or metabolic toxins) can easily contribute toward nutrient excesses as well as nutrient deficiencies.
Drugs (pharmaceutical, over-the-counter, and illicit):
Many drugs, by various mechanisms, are known to disrupt your nutritional status (drug nutrient interactions) and many also contain a variety of toxic elements. Keep in mind, anytime you consume any drug it is your responsibility to investigate the potential nutrient disruptions and toxic element exposures.
Nutritional Myths (Misinformation):
We would be amiss if we did not include nutritional myths (misinformation) because they are extremely powerful. Nutritional myths are continually propagated by family, friends, television doctors, news, internet, and other means and are tremendous sources for nutritional misinformation.
One of the most important myths you may not realize is that every nutrient you consume has myriad potentials. You may believe you can consume as much of a particular nutrient (i.e., vitamin C) you want and that the body will use what it needs and excrete the rest without ramifications.
This is a horrible myth. The fact is that every nutrient works with myriad other nutrients throughout a plethora of metabolic pathways. No nutrient works by itself! In order for this working relationship to work, every nutrient involved must remain in a dynamic balance.
As such, if you overconsume ANY nutrient, the overconsumed nutrient becomes excessive, and as a result, it becomes antagonistic toward many of the other nutrients it actually needs to be metabolically functional. In turn, this not only creates a nutrient excess of the overconsumed nutrient but also contributes towards a deficiency of the nutrients it needs to function properly.
How do I know if I have any nutrient excesses?
The only means too actually KNOW if you have any nutrient excess is through a laboratory screening. There are numerous laboratory nutritional screenings available that include amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.
A laboratory analysis simply removes the guesswork of nutrient excesses and deficiencies.
Order your Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis today.
Share the knowledge!
If you find this page informative and helpful, please share it with your family and friends. If you choose HairAnalysisReport.com as your provider, please share that as well!
The content and laboratory services provided on this site are for educational and informational purposes only and not intended to diagnose, treat, prevent, or cure disease.
Image used under license from Shutterstock.com
Helen Sanders. Health Ambition. 30 Omega-3 foods you should add to your diet today! https://www.healthambition.com/omega-3-foods-add-to-diet-today/
The Natural Standard Research Collaboration. Omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil, alpha-linolenic acid. http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/omega-3-fatty-acids-fish-oil-alpha-linolenic-acid/safety/hrb-20059372
Oregon State University. Excess omega-3 fatty acids could lead to negative health effects. News and Research Communications 10/28/2013 http://oregonstate.edu/ua/ncs/archives/2013/oct/excess-omega-3-fatty-acids-could-lead-negative-health-effects
Yvette C. Luiking and Nicolaas E. P. Deutz. Biomarkers of Arginine and Lysine Excess1–3. J. Nutr. June 2007 vol. 137 no. 6 1662S-1668S http://jn.nutrition.org/content/137/6/1662S.full
Vogiatzi MG, Jacobson-Dickman E, DeBoer MD; Drugs, and Therapeutics Committee of The Pediatric Endocrine Society. Vitamin D supplementation and risk of toxicity in pediatrics: a review of current literature. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Apr;99(4):1132-41. doi: 10.1210/jc.2013-3655. Epub 2014 Jan 23. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24456284
Lisette A. Maddison and Wenbiao Chen. Nutrient Excess Stimulates β-Cell Neogenesis in Zebrafish. http://diabetes.diabetesjournals.org/content/61/10/2517
Wellen KE, Thompson CB. Cellular metabolic stress: considering how cells respond to nutrient excess. Mol Cell. 2010 Oct 22;40(2):323-32. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2010.10.004. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20965425
G J Fosmire. Zinc toxicity. Am J Clin Nutr February 1990 vol. 51 no. 2 225-227 http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/51/2/225.abstract
Stock AK, Reuner U, Gohil K, Beste C. Effects of copper toxicity on response inhibition processes: a study in Wilson’s disease. Arch Toxicol. 2015 Oct 5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26438404
Kwakye GF, Paoliello MM, Mukhopadhyay S, Bowman AB, Aschner M. Manganese-Induced Parkinsonism and Parkinson’s Disease: Shared and Distinguishable Features. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2015 Jul 6;12(7):7519-40. doi: 10.3390/ijerph120707519. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26154659
Afridi HI, Talpur FN, Kazi TG, Kazi N, Arain SS, Shah F. Estimation of calcium, magnesium, cadmium, and lead in biological samples from paralyzed quality control and production steel mill workers. Environ Monit Assess. 2015 Jun;187(6):350. doi: 10.1007/s10661-015-4517-3. Epub 2015 May 14. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25968551