Daily Dose

Weekly challenge: avoid overdosing on foods that can kill

Can eating too much of a particular food in one sitting actually kill you? Actually yes, if it contains too much salt. A 19-year-old recently drank an entire bottle of soy sauce on a stupid dare, fell into a coma from the toxic level of sodium, and nearly died, according to a case report published last week in the Journal of Emergency Medicine.

While those sorts of salt poisonings are rare, many of us consume excess levels of nutrients in foods and supplements, and this can also be harmful to our health. Here’s what you need to avoid:

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1. Overdoing the calcium supplements. Those chewable chocolate ones can be eaten like a snack food, but if you consume more than 1,500 milligrams of calcium a day you could wind up with constipation, bloating, nausea, and intestinal gas. Doses higher than 4,000 milligrams a day may be linked to kidney damage and excess heart attacks. High doses can also bind to iron and zinc making it harder for your body to absorb these two minerals.

2. Too much iron. Ingesting too much iron in supplements can be lethal, especially for young children. For toddlers, as little as 3 grams (3,000 milligrams) of iron at one time can have life-threatening health consequences. For adults, about 13,600 milligrams for a 150-pound person could prove fatal.

3. Zinc excess. Taking too much zinc in supplements and fortified foods—up to 25 milligrams a day-- may slow your body’s absorption of copper. Excess zinc may interfere with your immune function and at extreme doses can cause vomiting and gastrointestinal problems.

4. Iodine in seaweed. Munching on too much dried seaweed—which has become a popular snack food—over a period of time can give you an excess amount of iodine, which overstimulates your thyroid gland. As a result, you can develop a swelling or goiter.

5. Caffeine and alcohol poisoning. Downing too many caffeinated energy shots that have become so popular can lead to a rapid heartbeat, confusion, dizziness, and in rare cases heart attacks. Drinking too much alcohol in one sitting can also kill. Best to limit your intake to two or three servings a day max.

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