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Tolerable Upper Intake Levels for Fat-Soluble Vitamins

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Updated February 16, 2014

Fat-soluble vitamins are more easily stored in your body than water-soluble vitamins, and they can build up to toxic levels.

The Institutes of Medicine, which is part of the National Academies, determines how much of each nutrient you need every day, as well the tolerable upper intake level (UL), which is the largest intake of each nutrient known to be safe. 

The ULs for Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is necessary for normal vision, reproduction, immune system function and cell development. The recommended daily allowance is 700 micrograms for women and 900 micrograms per men. The UL is 3,000 micrograms per day. Regularly consuming more than this amount may cause hair loss, cracked lips, dry skin, headaches and weakened bones. Continued overuse of vitamin A supplements may lead to liver damage, especially if you also have a high intake of alcohol, or have liver disease or high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. Pregnant women who consume too much vitamin A have increased risk of birth defects.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, so it's important for strong bones and teeth. The recommended daily allowance ranges from 5 to 10 micrograms per day. The UL is 50 micrograms (or 2,000 International Units) per day. Going over this amount on a daily basis may cause a condition called hypercalcemia (elevated level of calcium in the blood). Early symptoms include nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and a continued high vitamin D intake may eventually lead to dehydration, kidney stones and kidney damage.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E works as an antioxidant in your body. The recommended daily allowance is 15 micrograms per day, and the UL is 1,000 micrograms per day. Consuming more than the UL every day could lead to bleeding problems, especially for people who are also taking blood thinning medications. Large amounts of vitamin E can also cause muscle weakness, nausea and diarrhea.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is necessary for normal blood clotting and is important for healthy bones. The recommended daily allowance is 90 micrograms per day for women and 120 micrograms per day for men. The Institute of Medicine hasn't determined a UL for vitamin K intake.

Sources:

Institutes of Medicine of the Institutes of Health. "Dietary Reference Intakes." Accessed December 17, 2012. http://iom.edu/~/media/Files/Activity%20Files/Nutrition/DRIs/DRI_Vitamins.pdf.

The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook. "Vitamin A." Accessed December 17, 2012. http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/disorders_of_nutrition/vitamins/vitamin_a.html.

The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook. "Vitamin D." Accessed December 17, 2012. http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/disorders_of_nutrition/vitamins/vitamin_d.html.

The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook. "Vitamin E." Accessed December 17, 2012. http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/disorders_of_nutrition/vitamins/vitamin_e.html .

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