When Does Supplement Intake Become Excessive?

When does supplement intake become excessive? Our forum members share what they believe to be a real danger in the world of supplementation! Learn more about those dangers right here.


TOPIC: When Does Supplement Intake Become Excessive?

The Question:

Multivitamins, flax oil, fish oil, creatine, protein, amino acids, BCAA's, arginine, caffeine, antioxidants, citrulline malate, milk thistle, joint boosters, ZMA, ribose, etc., etc., etc. Considering all of the health/sports supplements on the market, it is quite possible for someone to take 40-60 pills per day. Sure it is good to have a variety of supplements available to you, but how does one know when they've gone overboard?

When does supplement intake become excessive?

When should one realize that they should cut back on supplements?

Are there any dangers of over supplementation?

Bonus Question: Have you ever gone overboard with supplements? What were you on? What did you do?

Show off your knowledge to the world!

The Winners:

    Prizes:
      1st place - 75 in store credit.
      2nd place - 50 in store credit.
      3rd place - 25 in store credit.

To use your credit, e-mail Will @ will@bodybuilding.com for more info.


1st Place - u5711
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

Multivitamins, flax oil, fish oil, creatine, protein, amino acids, BCAA's, arginine, caffeine, antioxidants, citrulline malate, milk thistle, joint boosters, ZMA, ribose, etc., etc., etc. Considering all of the health/sports supplements on the market, it is quite possible for someone to take 40-60 pills per day. Sure it is good to have a variety of supplements available to you, but how does one know when they've gone overboard?

What are all those pills? Are you taking more supplements again? Why don't you just save your money? What are you, one of those health nuts? If you have been enhancing your nutritional intake with dietary supplements for any lengthy amount of time, chances are you have been asked at least one of the previous questions. But what is your response to each one?

Do you even know what everything you are taking is? Furthermore, do you know if each item is helping or hurting you? The answer to the latter two questions might indicate whether or not your supplement intake is excessive or not.


Excessive Intake?
When Does Supplement Intake Become Excessive?

But this begs the question, what is excessive supplement use? Just like many hotly debated questions, there is no clear-cut answer. What is excessive to one person may very well be the bare minimum for another. In both scenarios, either person could be wrong or they could be right. Excessive supplementation is relative to the individual and multifaceted.

A person's lifestyle, training style, diet, metabolism, and physiology all influence what supplements they may benefit from, and at the same time what supplements may harm them.

The goal of this article is not to explain how different compounds help or hurt, but to focus on the overall question of when does all the supplementation become excessive. Nonetheless, this intricately ties into the aspect of unique physiology, metabolism, and medical conditions a person has.


-> Unique Physiology, Metabolism, And Medical Conditions:

    For example, if someone has a pre-existing kidney disorder, they would not want to be in the upper echelon of protein or creatine intake. While it may be perfectly safe for a person with healthy kidneys, from a medical standpoint it is an unnecessary risk in this scenario, and there simply is not enough medical literature to justify its use for bodybuilding purposes.

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    In the same breadth, a 220-pound veteran bodybuilder may find that he gets his best results from a large 10-gram daily dose of creatine, in addition to his 400 grams of protein per day to maintain muscle mass. These examples help illustrate the idea that a large quantity of supplementation does not necessarily mean excessive, and that a small dosage can be very harmful without analyzing its possible effects on an individual's unique physiology.


-> Budget:


-> Why Are You Using Supplements?

    Perhaps the most pertinent diagnostic criterion to determine what is excess is to consider why the person is using supplements in the first place. Are they taking it to help their gains, or are they using supplements as a crutch for faulty training or an inadequate diet?

    The dedicated trainer who detests vegetables and takes numerous vitamin and mineral supplements is vastly different from the type of person who talks while they are bench pressing and thinks they need more nitric oxide products because they are just not getting the powerful pumps they want.

    The latter person uses a supplement to makeup for their lackadaisical gym performance, while the former utilizes supplements to round out an already excellent diet. It is very likely that the person who uses dietary supplements to function as a crutch is also using in excess. As we pointed out earlier, excessiveness is relative and almost assuredly linked to unnecessary as well.

    With all of this said, the answer to whether or not something is excessive must be evaluated on several levels. These include the possible health hazards associated with a particular substance or combination of substances, if the person can afford the products, and whether or not something is necessary to improve a certain aspect of nutrition or performance.


Time To Cut Back?
When Should One Realize That They Should Cut Back On Supplements?

So now let us re-examine the questions posed from the introduction.


-> Is It Safe?

    First of all, is the product safe? If supplementing with a product to slightly improve one's gains at the gym comes at the cost of jeopardizing their health, then we have a clear and evident situation of excessiveness. Thus the person needs to cut back.


-> Do You Know What It Is?

    Next, does the person even know what the product is? If you go to a nutrition store you will not have to look hard to find a person who takes the newest, hottest product just because it promises a big bang. Meanwhile they do not have the slightest clue as to what it even is! If someone cannot reasonably explain what each product they consume is doing, they are likely to be taking them unnecessarily and excessively.


-> Financial Impact:

    It is also important to consider the financial impact of supplements. Take, for example, the student athlete who barely makes enough for rent and tuition, but still spends a couple hundred dollars a month on supplements. Supplement costs can certainly add up fast, and if somebody is waiting for their student loan to come in so they can buy their next load of supplements, it is probably excessive and they should consider cutting back.

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-> Actual Results:

    Finally, are the products delivering results or is the person just operating on blind faith that if they consume tons of products it will dramatically improve their physique?

    The supplement industry is constantly evolving, coming out with new products and doing away with previously hyped, now debunked supplements. One cannot expect not to get suckered in by a hot product now and then, but repeatedly doing so without evaluating whether or not something is helping is merely an exercise in futility.

Forums Bodybuilding.com Forums:
Supplement Science!

Discuss the science beheind the supplements with other forum members!.

[ Check Out The Supplement Science Forum! ]

    If a person is still buying everything Flex magazine recommended over the last 5 years, they are certainly using in excess and it is time to cut back!


Dangers?
Are There Any Dangers Of Over Supplementation?

The dangers of over supplementation really need to be addressed on an individual level, and even so, the danger of over supplementation is likely to occur only in severe cases. In a nutshell, there are government agencies that loosely oversee that truly dangerous products do not come to the market, and if they do, they are aptly removed. Furthermore, a company would not want to release very dangerous products because it is simply bad business (the general public does not want to get harmed)!

On the other hand, there are thousands of supplements on the market, and many of them may have negative impacts when they are co-ingested with prescriptions or other medications.

For instance, there have not been any deaths associated with vitamin E overdose, but it does have an anti-clotting effect on the blood; thus people on blood thinners would want to talk with their doctors before supplementing with this product. This is only one example, but it goes to show that while a supplement may generally be regarded as safe, individuals can vary greatly. What is safe to many persons may be dangerous to another.


Bonus Question
Have You Ever Gone Overboard With Supplements?

Sometimes it may be difficult to resist extreme supplement hype, but I would advise people keep a level head and put their money and effort into supplements that have real substance and science backing them, not just marketing hype. Rarely does a new supplement come along that will still be around in five years.

Personally, I feel I have yet to go overboard with supplements because no matter what comes out, I research first and buy later! Finally, realize that no matter what supplements you decide to take, nothing will replace hard work and consistency.

RELATED POLL
Have You Ever Gone Overboard With Supplements?

Yes.
No.


2nd Place - randommagic
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

First off supplements can be very useful, especially in a bodybuilders busy lifestyle. Even when you have a good clean diet you may not get all the nutrients that you need to help build your body.

The first thing that you have to remember is that supplements are just that, supplements. They are meant to supplement your diet. The first thing that you should do is sort out your diet and make sure that you are getting as many nutrients as possible from the food that you eat, not just from the supplements that you take.

Once you have a healthy diet in place, you can add supplements to complement your training regime and diet. If you are training to bulk up, go with the proven basics like creatine and protein powder to help you. If you are cutting, use fat burners to help with the process. Don't go overboard and buy up the whole store.


Excessive Intake?
When Does Supplement Intake Become Excessive?

As with all things supplements should be taken in moderation. There are numerous ways you can tell if you are overdosing on your supplements.

When you start feeling weak, drowsy, puffy, cranky, etc. and you are not recovering like you would with a cold or flu etc, you may be overdosing on some of your supplements. Check what supplements you have been taking. Your body may be reacting to one of the supplements that you are taking or a combination of them.

Play around with the different combinations and see what works best for you. Not everyone is the same, and your body will react differently to the supplements compared to the guy next to you at the gym.

Not Everyone Is The Same. Not Everyone Is The Same.
+ Click To Enlarge.
Not Everyone Is The Same.

Also taking supplements like hormone boosters can effect your moods and cause you to have huge mood swings which will affect all aspects of your life, in and out of the gym. If you start to notice things like loosing your appetite or your sleep pattern gets out of wack, take a stock of things. Is it because of something in your life that is affecting you or can it be traced back to some of the supplements that you are taking?


Time To Cut Back?
When Should One Realize That They Should Cut Back On Supplements?

You should realize that you need to cut back on your supplementation when you start feeling bloated or sick from either overdosing on specific supplements like multivitamins or from the combination of the various supplements you are taking. Also mood swings, bad skin, hair becoming limp/greasy may be due to things like hormone replacements that you are taking, and should be a warning to you to cut back or stop taking them altogether.


Dangers?
Are There Any Dangers Of Over Supplementation?

The short answer to this is yes. While a lot of supplements are relatively harmless when you overdose a little in them, you can do damage if you overdose in large quantities for some of them. For example taking too much Vitamin A can cause ongoing headaches, liver damage and other damage to your body.

Overdosing in Vitamin C may cause you indigestion, especially if you take it on an empty stomach. When taken in even higher doses you can have diarrhea. If you take too much caffeine to give you an energy boost during your workout, you can end up with jitters and disturb your sleep cycle. The list can go on.

Overdosing in other supplements can and will cause other problems. Research the supplements, the recommended quantities, any side effects and conflicts that they may have before you take them, and you may save yourself a lot of pain in the long run.


Bonus Question
Have You Ever Gone Overboard With Supplements? What Were You On? What Did You Do?

I haven't gone overboard with supplements yet. At present I am just taking the basic whey protein to help with recovery from training and a multivitamin to top up the vitamins that I am getting in my diet. In the future I will be adding more, but one by one so that I can take note of the effects that they have on my body and whether they prove beneficial in the long run.

randommagic
+ Click To Enlarge.
randommagic.


3rd Place - bigcalves
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

Supplements are a billion dollar industry. Pretty much everyone that is involved with physical activities and is somewhat serious is on some type of supplement. From athletes in middle school all the way to the pro level, everyone is taking supplements. From inexpensive multivitamins and creatine, up to the newest product from big companies.

There is a variety of supplements that people could take. From the essential daily vitamins to the fancier ZMA or ribose supplements. It is proven that all these work, otherwise they would not make it all the way to the market.


Excessive Intake?
When Does Supplement Intake Become Excessive?

But when is enough, enough? Even though you could have 20 different containers of supplements that are all proven to help you out, is taking 30+ pills a day really healthy. Is too much of a good thing bad?

In reality, even though all of these supplements are good and beneficial I think that taking too much at one time is more negative than positive. Once someone starts mixing too many supplements together, the body starts to get exhausted. It's mostly the liver because you have to be able to digest and filter all the stuff your taking.

So even though you are on a lot supplements, your body might have a negative effect based on the overload. So instead of doing something good by spending all that money and taking the time to take everything, you end up slowing yourself down.

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Time To Cut Back?
When Should One Realize That They Should Cut Back On Supplements?

If you are feeling tired or have side effects that are specific from one supplement then I think it's time to change things up and to discontinue using the specific supplement. My advice is to figure out a bunch of supplements that you want to take.

For example let's say that you are interested in creatine, glutamine, ZMA, ribose, multivitamins, flaxseed oil, BCAA's and caffeine. Keep in mind that this is a small list of what people take. I know people that some take more than 20 different supplements DAILY.

Anyways, back to the example. Try to group the supplements together. I would take creatine, multi's and glutamine for 10 weeks and then switch it up to ribose, BCAA's and ZMA. The point is not to overload the body, but to give it just the right amount so it can benefit to the fullest by taking in all the supplements and not overloading on 20 different kinds.


Dangers?
Are There Any Dangers Of Over Supplementation?

Over supplementation can lead you to have problems with your liver since your body is overloaded with too much supplements at one time. That can lead you to being tired and lethargic. So if you think about it, too much supplements cannot only lead to the supplements being used for nothing and your money being spent, but it can also have a negative effect on your workouts.

I don't know anyone stupid enough to purposely pay money, take the time to take supplements and let their body be lethargic. So with all that being said, I think that you shouldn't take more than 6-8 different supplements daily. That way you would be able to metabolize the most out of each one and not overload your body or your wallet.


Bonus Question
Have You Ever Gone Overboard With Supplements? What Were You On? What Did You Do?

In the beginning I was taking everything you could imagine. Creatine, glutamine, ribose, BCAAs, ZMA, arginine, NO2 products, and a bunch of others. Now, there's nothing wrong with those supplements. But I was abusing a good thing.

I was feeling lethargic, and bloated all the time. I quickly got smarter and changed my supplement schedule. Now I bulk with certain supplements, and cut with others. I no longer mix caffeine with fat burners and ephedra. I made some stupid mistakes in the past. I mixed too many stimulants at one time and got my heart to 120 resting. I must admit that was a stupid rookie mistake, and I'm glad that got smarter when it came to supplementation, and you should too!


3rd Place - RoadPigJohn
View This Author's BodySpace Here.

For many athletes bodybuilding progress seems perpetually stuck in one of two modes: slow or pause. If you are that king of rut, it is natural to search for ways to progress, not just at normal speed but at fast forward. The problem is it is difficult to see where you are going when fast forwarding and too often you are on a continuous loop to nowhere or, worse yet, you are actually going in reverse.

Multivitamins, flax oil, fish oil, creatine, protein, amino acids, BCAA's, arginine, caffeine, antioxidants, citrulline malate, milk thistle, joint boosters, ZMA, ribose, etc., etc., etc. Considering all of the health/sports supplements on the market, it is quite possible for someone to take 40-60 pills per day. Sure it is good to have a variety of supplements available to you, but how does one when they've gone overboard?

Going for the buzz, though, is not the best way to take advantage of supplements. It will definitely heat you up in the short term, but that won't provide the steady stimulation necessary to keep metabolic rate up all the time and to activate and grow Bat. Do not fool yourself into thinking that maintaining a buzz is either necessary or good for long term. It is not.


Excessive Intake
When Does Supplement Intake Become Excessive?

When you feel the following symptoms:

  • Cardiovascular effects ranging from elevated heart rate, slightly elevated blood pressure and palpitations to severe disruption of heart rhythm, severe hypertension, cardiac arrest, angina, myocardial infarction (heart attack) and stroke.
  • Nervous system effects ranging from anxiety, nervousness, tremor, hyperactivity, insomnia, altered behavior and memory changes to psychosis, disorientation, confusion, loss of consciousness and seizures.
  • Gastrointestinal effects ranking from mild GI distress to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and altered serum enzymes.
  • Dermatologic effects including nonspecific rashes to exfoliative dermatitis.
  • General symptoms including numbness, tingling, dizziness, fatigue, lethargy and weakness.
  • Related Conditions & Diseases Articles:


Time To Cut Back?
When Should One Realize That They Should Cut Back On Supplements?

As with protein and calories, many people assume more supplements must be the shortcut for their goals.

Instead of 5 g of creatine per day, why not 20 g, or instead of 1 g of vitamin C, why not 10 grams? Too much of a good thing is a bad thing, only with supplements the consequences can be toxic.

Your body can utilize finite amounts of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and related supplements at any given time. Anything over those amounts will typically be eliminated.

In other words, the money you spend on, say ten times the recommended intake of glutamine will eventually be flushed down the toilet. In some instance, taking more than the recommended amounts of supplements can have detrimental effects. Vitamin B6, Vitamin D, niacin and choline are among other potentially toxic substances when ingested at very high levels.


Dangers?
Are There Any Dangers Of Over Supplementation?

Putting your body into an exaggerated pharmaceutical induced fight or flight state on a regular basis, like every workout, can wreak havoc with your hormones over time.

Do not use these supplements to make up for a lack of drive and discipline. Although they can help you do more sets and reps and use more weight, respect the weights.

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Besides hormonal alterations that can come with thermogenics comes an altered mental state that can lead to distorted judgment about how much you can do and how safely. Then there is the dependence aspect and the risk associated with pushing yourself up and over the edge. That can result in cramps, strains, tears, inability to relax, sleep and more.


Bonus Question
Have You Ever Gone Overboard With Supplements? What Were You On? What Did You Do?

At one point, I started using too much creatine like 15-20 grams a day and just started to look too watery from my usual look. I decided to stop it because I was preparing for a contest.


+ Click To Enlarge.
RoadPigJohn.

RoadPigJohn