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I'm hoping to get some insight on the vitamins and supplements I'm taking. I'm afraid I'm taking too many or taking them incorrectly. Am I doing myself good or harming my body?

First off, I am 21, about 5'9, 140 lbs, low body fat, and athletic. I work out almost everyday now trying to prepare myself for USAF basic training. I'm trying to build muscle as well.

Now, as for vitamins and supplements, I am taking:

  • a Mega Man sport multivitamin
  • a childrens vitamin
  • Calcium/magnesium tab
  • Flax seed oil (1 or 2)
  • Mercury free fish oil (2)
  • Nitric oxide (2, only before workouts)
  • Bromelian (pineapple enzyme)
  • 1-2 Whey protein shakes
  • Creatine

I also just started DHEA tonight and bought L-Arginine as well, which I haven't tried yet.

I take these 6 days a week, plenty of fluids, and eat decently. I must admit I feel great and energized, good moods, etc. since starting this. I feel better than I have in a long time. There are no signs of harm, no urine symptoms, no bowel symptoms or anything. I've compared the ingredients of each label to each other too so I realize that the nitric oxide and arginine are similar as well as vitamin similarities.

Am I benefiting as much as I think I am, or am I causing unknown damage?

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Obviously only your physician can tell. Visit him, list all supplements you take (don't forget exact doses, «I'm taking vitamins» is not very informative) and exercise schedule, and hear what he will say. –  Mischa Arefiev Jan 24 '12 at 11:38
    
It's hard to say whether this is "good" or "bad" without knowing more about your what your diet is other than supplements. What are your reasons for taking supplements and why do you think they are causing you harm or doing you good? –  Matt Chan Jan 24 '12 at 14:32
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Your body will not process anything above it's current needs and may just end up in your urine. Expensive urine. –  Ron Jan 25 '12 at 9:39
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@Ron Although that is true for things like Vitamin C it is not universally true. Eg Vitamin E can actually promote prostate cancer. jama.ama-assn.org/content/306/14/1549 It is well worth checking out the science behind a lot of supplements. –  Jaydee May 2 '12 at 14:31
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3 Answers

The comments/answers about excess stuff easily disposed of by the body are rather inaccurate; water-soluble vitamins will wash out as you mentioned, but excess fat-soluble vitamins will remain in the adipose tissue, and will be released into the bloodstream as fat is burned, overloading kidneys and livers.

Also Ca/K/Mg ions are the driving force of the nerve and muscular (not the least cardiac) impulses. Without going into much details, it's the potential difference caused by differential ion abundances are the battery that drives the small but essential current in the human body. Admittedly most often, one would have problems due to a lack of these ions, but I'm pretty sure you do not want to mess with that system by overloading on a particular type of ion. As an example, consider that some of the most poisonous animals on the planet use extreme amounts of these ions in their saliva/poisons (of course this is not immediately relevant in your case, but I just want to stress the delicate nature of the ion balance in the body.)

I would recommend structuring your diet so that you get most of what you need from natural products, and complement it where it may lack. If you need to take that many supplement pills, your diet must surely be lacking something. Finally, when in doubt, ask a professional ;)

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You might want to cut out the calcium supplement. Recommendations for young healthy men is 1000-2500mg daily. There is some evidence that too much can cause cardio problems. Between the multi vitamins and your food you are likely getting plenty calcium. Best case you are paying for expensive urine, worst case you are starting damage that could curtail your airmen career.

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Yes, but if you have a high protein diet, the calcium is necessary to prevent the body leaching calcium from the bones to process the protein. –  Berin Loritsch Feb 27 '12 at 13:30
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Agreed with above. Your body will get rid of extra stuff UNLESS you have some kind of kidney problem. I would ask a doctor, but in general it's ok. Also, any doctor will tell you to first get a good healthy diet, then SUPPLEMENT it with SUPPLEMENTs. :) No need for flax, probably. Fish oil takes care of anything flax would. Probably no need for an additional children's vitamin. Neither addition will harm much.

Definitely check with real professionals if you can.

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-1 Your body only gets rid of the extra if the vitamin is water soluble. Fat soluble vitamins OTOH are accumulated in your body's tissue and don't get flushed if you take too much the same way that water soluble vitamins do. Google 'hypervitaminosis'. –  Evan Plaice May 29 '12 at 19:41
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