- A man in Australia lost the ability to walk after taking too many vitamin B6 supplements.
- The man had taken 70 times the recommended dose, according to ABC Radio Melbourne.
- Vitamin B6 toxicity is rare. Some patients who experience toxicity may regain the ability to walk if they stop taking the supplements, per Mount Sinai.
When it comes to vitamins, more does not necessarily mean better.
A man in Australia lost the ability to walk after taking 70 times the recommended daily dose of vitamin B6, ABC Radio Melbourne reported.
The 86-year-old had previously been active and lived independently, his daughter Alison Taylor told ABC Radio, until a blood test showed he had a slight deficiency of vitamin B6.
Taylor said her father had no symptoms of ill health, but his doctor prescribed a 50-milligram vitamin B6 supplement to boost his levels. Vitamin B6, like other B vitamins, helps the body convert food into energy by breaking down carbohydrates and protein. Research suggests that it can help the body’s immune system and certain brain functions.
But 50 milligrams is much higher than the standard dose recommendation in both Australia and the US, which is 1.7 milligrams of vitamin B6 per day for men over 50. In fact, most people should get enough B6 through eating standard foods such as chicken, potatoes, or spaghetti sauce .
The new, high-dose multivitamin wasn’t the only B6 in the man’s diet: he also took a magnesium supplement, which contained B6, and ate breakfast cereals fortified with B6.
Within months, he began to lose feeling in his legs, and eventually went to the hospital after he could no longer walk, Taylor told ABC Radio.
“Twelve months ago he was driving. He’s now in aged care and in a wheelchair,” said Taylor, who did not share his father’s name.
More and more people are taking dangerous amounts of nutritional supplements
As the wellness industry expands and the demand for supplements increases, more Americans are getting sick from taking too many. The number of calls to poison control centers about children who took too much melatonin increased by 530% in the last decade. Preventive care experts say vitamin A supplements cause more harm than good, as taking too many can lead to bone pain and hair loss.
Most Americans are not deficient in vitamin B6, thanks to naturally occurring B6 in a number of common foods, according to Harvard.
Certain medical conditions, such as alcohol addiction and autoimmune disorders, can make individuals more susceptible to vitamin B6 deficiency, Insider previously reported. Lack of the vitamin can cause inflamed skin, weakened immune system and depression.
Nerve damage from an overdose of vitamin B6 is rare, according to the American Academy of Neurology, as the water-soluble nutrient is usually excreted when taken in excess.
Mount Sinai states that doses of vitamin B6 exceeding 200 milligrams can cause loss of feeling in the legs due to peripheral neuropathy, or nerve damage. Some patients may regain the ability to walk if they stop taking the supplements, according to Mount Sinai.
Taylor told ABC Radio that she is no longer sure her father will see a full recovery, but she hopes physical therapy will help him be less dependent on his wheelchair.