Overnutrition – “Too much of a good thing can become a bad thing”

Many of us have emphasized enough on how malnutrition (undernutrition) can make us unhealthy. But on the other hand, we also should be aware of overnutrition. This is one of the things I recently learned from my online course by Dr. Nicholas Vardaxis at Open2Study in module 2.

Firstly, we should check out the big word nutrient. Basically nutrient is divided into two main categories: macro-nutrient and micro-nutrient. (Note: I purposely add the hyphen to make both words easier to differentiate). Macro-nutrient is the nutrient we need in a large amount and primarily divided into carbohydrates, proteins, fats/lipids and water while micro-nutrient. Micro-nutrient is the nutrient we need but in a smaller amount (in comparison with macro-nutrient) and divided into vitamins and minerals.

As I read more, I realize that almost anything we consume excessively / over the limit will cause health problems, even death. Let’s go by the list of nutrients one by one.

  • Excessive carbohydrates (aka saccharides) – For this, it depends on which chemical groups it falls under: monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides, and polysaccharides. Monosaccharides, the simple sugar, if consumed excessively over a period of time will cause many health problems especially diabetes mellitus (Type 2) and obesity. (Source).
  • Excessive proteins – cause weight gain, Intestinal irritation, dehydration, seizures. Increase in liver enzymes, nutritional deficiencies, risk of heart disease, kidney problems, too much acid uric (due to purine in the most protein) which eventually can cause gaut, (Source).
  • Excessive fats – I believe most people know this. Anyway, excessive bad (saturated fats) fats leads to obesity and obesity is related to so many leading diseases especially heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancers, osteoarthritis and gout. (Source).
  • Excessive vitamins – Excessive Vitamin A can be stored in the body in such large quantities that it can become toxic. For more comprehensive list, you can check out this article – Effects of Overnutrition.
  • Excessive minerals – There are too much to list down here. But, some to take note here is calcium. Excessive amounts of calcium in the body may lead to to formation of “stones” in the body, especially in the the gall bladder and the kidneys. Another one is iron. For more comprehensive list, you can check out this article – Effects of Overnutrition
  • Excessive water – Of course, the most unbelievable of all is water. An average person might be able to live up to a month without food but without water, a person only has 3-5 days to live. But even water, if consumed excessively within short period of time can harm or even kill you. Remember, the water intoxication which I shared before?
  • Excessive sleep – I know this is not a nutrient 🙂 Sleep is one of the most important activities we need because we sleep 1/3 of the day but excessive sleep linked to diabetes, obesity and headache. (Source).
  • Excessive exercise – This is due to oxidative stress occurred during extreme exercise. Check out these three articles: Does Cardio Produce Free Radicals? and The Truth about Extreme Exercise, Oxidative Stress, and Your Health and How much is too much exercise?
  • Excessive “Healthy eating” – This is new to me but it is true that healthy eating can turn into an obsession/disorder which is technically known as orthorexia nervosa. Check out this article – healthy eating can turn into an obsession.

Conclusion – Besides knowing the health benefit of the food or supplement we eat, we should also need to take note how much nutrient we need. This is known as the The Reference Daily Intake or Recommended Daily Intake (RDI). Thus, we can some guide and strife to have a healthy balanced diet everyday 🙂


Note: For the supplement we take, check out the RDI information at the label.