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What is Overnutrition?

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  • Written By: Vanessa Harvey
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 06 December 2016
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Overnutrition is an unfavorable health condition in which at least one nutrient is supplied in an amount that exceeds the body's requirements for normal metabolism, growth and development. The term "overnutrition" is also used to indicate the result of an excessive intake of calories over a period of time — amount high enough to lead to obesity. This means that overeating can and often does lead to overnutrition. It might be said, in simpler terms, that overnutrition occurs when a person receives too much nutrition, too many calories or both. Although the term might not sound like it refers to a health condition that could be serious, it does.

The prefix "mal" means "inadequate," "poor," "inept" and "disorderly." Overnutrition is considered a form of malnutrition that can be fatal if it is severe. When the body receives an excessive amount of nutrients or calories, life functions become inadequate and disorderly, and a person's health becomes poor. An oversupply of nutrients can refer to the excessive intake of a specific type of nutrient, such as a vitamin or a mineral, or to the excessive intake of a group of nutrients such as the B complex family of vitamins.

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Various lifestyles and habits can easily lead to overnutrition. Overeating; having a preoccupation with taking vitamins, supplements, herbal teas, herbal extracts and tinctures; and eating excessive amounts of particular foods to increase one's intake of one or more nutrients figure among such habits and lifestyles. People who might be at risk for developing overnutrition include those who suffer from hypochondria; those who take nutritional supplements, particularly synthetic ones; and people who do not realize that the oversupply of a nutrient can be just as harmful to the body as a nutritional deficiency. Individuals who follow fad diets also might be risk for suffering from overnutrition.

Some of the specific conditions that can result from an oversupply of nutrients are vitamin poisoning and iron poisoning. Depending on the situation, it is possible for both to take place simultaneously. For example, if a person greatly exceeds the recommended dosage for a multivitamin and mineral supplement that contains iron, he or she could run the risk of suffering from vitamin and iron poisoning. Overnutrition is almost always caused by overeating or taking nutritional supplements. It is hardly ever developed in people who rely on their diet for their supply of nutrients and who exercise control when it comes to the amount of food they eat, even if those foods are very high in nutrients. 

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strawCake
Post 6

@Monika - Wow! 600%? That is a lot.

Really, I think people should consult with their doctors about the supplements they take. If your doctor does a physical on you and finds that you are deficient in certain nutrients, then you might need to take a supplement. But I think most people, as long as you eat a healthy diet, don't need to take so many vitamins!

Monika
Post 5

I think it's really important for any person who is going to take nutritional supplements to carefully read the label. Vitamins are great-but not if you take them to excess!

For example, I was looking at a supplement recently and it had 200% of the daily value for certain minerals! And they recommended you take 3 pills per day. So you would be getting 600% of the daily value for that particular mineral. That definitely sounds like it could lead to overnutrition to me.

OeKc05
Post 4

@cloudel – Your coworker might benefit from a program like my cousin entered. She stayed at an obesity rehabilitation facility, and while she was there, they altered her outlook on life.

The only way for her to change was to develop a new perspective and new ways of dealing with stress and boredom. During her stay, she got therapy from psychologists and learned to turn to hobbies instead of food.

She exercised under the guidance of a trainer, and she only had access to healthy food. When she returned home, she still had phone sessions with the therapist to keep her in line.

She is no longer in a state of overnutrition. She is steadily losing weight, and though it will take a long time for her to reach her goal weight, the important thing is that she has a new mindset, and that's the only thing that will allow her to maintain her new lifestyle.

cloudel
Post 3

One of my coworkers definitely has overnutrition. She weighs about four-hundred pounds, so I know she has to consume probably at least twice the calories that a person of average weight consumes in a day.

We have gone out for lunch before, and the amount of food she eats is astounding. She didn't have any leftovers, but I could only eat about half of what was on my plate, because it was a ton of food.

She is in her forties and has come to accept her obesity. She has tried to lose weight in the past, but she has become so accustomed to a massive calorie intake that she feels she is starving when she cuts down.

kylee07drg
Post 2

I have a friend who takes way too many vitamins to ward off sickness. She doesn't even compare the labels of all that she takes to make sure she doesn't get an overdose.

This is why she got vitamin A poisoning. I believe three of her supplements contained lots of this vitamin, and she was taking all of them every day.

She became nauseated and started vomiting. Then, she got really dizzy. Her vision was blurry, and she lost control of her movements.

I took her to the hospital, where they flushed out her system with fluids and kept her for observation. They told her if she stopped taking the supplements, she should be fine.

shell4life
Post 1

My neighbor's child experienced overnutrition when he swallowed a whole bunch of iron supplements. His mother didn't see him do it, but she knew something was wrong when he started vomiting and having diarrhea.

There was a little blood in both his vomit and his stools. She took him to the hospital, where a nice nurse questioned him about what he had just eaten. He told her about the pills, so they knew what to do.

He had to have a chemical administered through an IV that would bind to the iron, which would then leave his body through his urine. It was a case of severe poisoning.

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