Vitamin Overdose in Children

Yes, there is such a thing as overdosing on vitamins! An excess of anything is not good and vitamins are not an exception. Vitamins are much needed, especially in children, for their development, nourishment, health, and functioning on physical, cellular as well as mental levels. Your child’s health in the long term is dependent on the vitamins and nutrients he receives in his developing stages. Nutritional deficiencies can lead to many serious illnesses like diabetes, heart diseases, obesity, osteoporosis and cancer, to name a few.

More and more parents are realizing the value of vitamins but in a bid to ensure that their children are receiving the necessary nourishment and vitamins, are they going overboard? The answer is yes. There are many over-the-counter multivitamins that are available in pharmacies and some worried parents end up giving their children these, without consulting a medical professional first. There is no doubt, that most children can be extremely fussy eaters, which means they don’t usually get the required vitamins from their diet. In such cases, it is important to seek advice from your pediatrician about what vitamins your child needs to take.

Some of the common symptoms displayed by vitamin overdose in children are vomiting, diarrhea, nausea and headaches. These signs and symptoms can appear when any vitamin is ingested in excess. Let’s look at the vitamins and the negative reaction it can have if have, if overdosed on:

  • Vitamin A: Nausea, peeling skin, loss of appetite, tiredness, hair loss, and enlarged liver and spleen.
  • Vitamin B: Has eight B vitamins in it. Overdosing on different B vitamins has different symptoms. Some of the symptoms are skin rashes, hypersensitivity, high blood pressure, fatigue, vomiting, anemia, flushing, joint pain, insomnia, headaches. A B12 overdose can result in panic attacks, hyperthyroidism, insomnia and heart palpitations,
  • Vitamin C: Overdosing on vitamin C is quite rare but an excess of it can cause gastrointestinal symptoms.
  • Vitamin D: Constipation, lethargy, dehydration, confusion, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite. Serious overdosing of vitamin D can cause bone damage and kidneys, and hypercalcemia.  
  • Vitamin E: Nausea, vomiting, flatulence, abdominal pain, fatigue, weakness, blurred vision, unusual bruising and bleeding.
Children may also have acute iron poisoning if they have consumed excess of adult’s or pediatric vitamins. Here are a few things you do at home before medical help arrives:
  • Do not induce vomiting in your child unless you’ve been told otherwise by a health professional.
  • Keep your child’s height, weight and medical condition handy before ERT or medical help arrives.
  • Write down the name of the product your child has consumed. If possible, list the ingredients and strengths from the label of the bottle.
  • Remember to keep in mind the time swallowing took place.
  • Keep an approximate number of the pills swallowed handy.

If you suspect your child has overdosed on vitamins and you are in the United States, please call Poison Control or your local emergency number. The Poison Control Hotline has staff who can give you instructions on how to respond to the situation urgently, till medical help is at hand.

Depending on the severity of the symptoms and the amount ingested, keeping your child’s medical history in mind, treatment will be meted out. A few treatments associated with vitamin overdose are gastric lavage (pumping and washing out of the stomach), fluid IV, antidote to reverse the effects of the overdose, and/or breathing support.

All vitamin overdoses may not have serious repercussions; the ones to watch out the most for are calcium and iron. Vitamin supplements should be kept away from the reach of children and given only as per doctor’s recommendation.