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13 Unexpected Things You Can Overdose On

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When you hear the word "overdose", the first thing that pops into your mind is probably the image of a drug addict, slumped against the wall of a dark alley with froth leaking from his mouth and a used syringe hanging limp from his hand.

But did you know that illegal drugs are not the only things that you can overdose on?

This is because your body has a specific threshold of tolerance for all chemical substances you use throughout the day, from coffee to toothpaste. And while this threshold is quite high for most household products, you can still overdose on them if you ingest them beyond a point.

So, here are the top 13 unexpected things you can overdose on, which are not illegal drugs.

Please note: This is a health article meant for light reading and awareness. So if you are reading this because you have suicidal thoughts, we strongly recommend you to reach out to the person you are closest to and seek help for your problems.

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#1 Toothpaste

Most toothpastes contain fluoride in them, since it has the ability to strengthen your teeth against bacterial acid, and thus, protect them from cavities.

But what you may not know is that fluoride is an extremely poisonous compound when consumed above 0.1 to 0.3 mg/kg of body weight.

That's why all fluoride-containing toothpastes are mandated by the FDA to print out cautionary messages warning people not to ingest it and to only use a pea-sized quantity for children below the age of 6 years.

In fact, a single tube of toothpaste for children has enough fluoride in it to kill a child who weighs less than 30 kg of weight!

Please note: Accidental ingestion of toothpaste froth while brushing will only cause mild to moderate gastric discomfort and soapy burps later. It will not kill you. So don't panic!

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#2 Soy Sauce

Soy sauce is made from the fermented paste of soybeans, a specific type of mold, roasted grain, and a high amount of salt. That's why doctors always ask you to refrain from having too much of soy sauce when you eat Chinese food and soups.

This is because when you drink too much of soy sauce (whether intentionally or on a dare), your blood's concentration of salt shoots up beyond safe levels (a.k.a, hypernatremia), which causes your body to draw out water from all your tissues and organs to dilute the salt.

And when water is drawn out of your brain, you get brain damage, internal bleeding, and finally slip into coma before death.

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#3 Tea

You may not know this, but according to the Harvard School of Public Heath, you can safely drink a maximum of 4 cups of tea every day.

Beyond that all bets are off.

This is because tea leaves contain a compound in them called oxalate, which is known to irritate and clog your kidneys. So, if you drink beyond the safe threshold, you will over time develop kidney failure.

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#4 Star Fruit

Star fruit, also called Carambola, is native to the South-East Asian countries like Philippines, Indonesia, India, Nepal, and Mauritius.

It is a tart and sour-tasting fruit with a lot of dietary fibre content and health benefits. But the reason why it is dangerous is because of the oxalic acid contained within it.

Oxalic acid is poisonous for your kidneys. Therefore, those with mild to severe kidney damage will develop severe and irreversible kidney failure if they consume even a little bit of this fruit.

But if you are a healthy adult with perfectly functioning kidneys, you don't need to worry. Your body can work out this toxin if you only have this fruit or its juice occasionally.

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#5 Muscle Relaxant Creams And Balms

Muscle relaxants are only meant to be used topically. That is, they must only be applied on the external surface of your body and never ingested or applied on the area with open wounds.

This is because the main constituent of muscle relaxants is the medicinal compound methyl salicylate, which is quite toxic for your body and which takes a while to be worked out of your system, even after it has satisfactorily soothed your muscle pain.

And while occasional use of this product is not harmful, when you use it too frequently, the toxins build up in your body until one day it ends up killing you.

Like it killed the track athlete Arielle Newman of the United States in 2007.

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#6 Tuna

The reason why frequent consumption of sea fish is risky for your health is because industries dump a large amount of toxic wastes in sea water, which ultimately is consumed by the fishes living in it.

And one of the most dangerous poisons consumed by sea fishes is mercury, which settles into their muscles and makes its way into our body when we eat fishes for lunch or dinner.

And since all predatory fishes, including tuna, contain a lot more mercury in their flesh because they consume other fishes that have mercury in their system, medical professionals prohibit pregnant women and very young children from eating tuna, as it can cause mercury poisoning in them.

So, if you love eating fish, the safe amount you can eat is 170 g when eaten once every 9 days.

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#7 Nutmeg

You may not know this, but nutmeg contains a compound in it called myristicin, which can induce a high similar to that of LSD when you consume a lot of it.

Unfortunately, the high from nutmeg is not experienced for many hours after it is ingested, which is why amateurs often end up overdosing on it because they feel they have failed to consume enough.

The symptoms of nutmeg overdose include acute stomach pain, heart palpitations, and tremors.

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#8 Brussel Sprouts

Cruciferous veggies, like Brussel sprouts, contain a lot of vitamin K in them, which is an important coagulation factor in your blood.

That's why those with mechanical hearts or those with a high risk of stroke should eat them in minimal quantities, as it can block the action of your anti-coagulant medication and lead to severe medical emergencies.

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#9 Broccoli, Kale, And Cauliflower

These vegetables may have a lot of beneficial properties, but when consumed too frequently and too much, they can block the action of your thyroid gland, leading to hypothyroidism.

The symptoms of hypothyroidism include drowsiness, lethargy, weight gain, and reduced mental capacity.

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#10 Black Licorice

You either love licorice or hate it. This candy does not elicit any "meh" reactions.

But what you may not know is that black licorice contains a natural compound in it called glycyrrhizin, which is known to reduce the potassium level of your body.

That's why when you consume too much of it over a long period of time, you can develop serious cardiac arrhythmias and palpitations, which can lead to heart attack and death.

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#11 Vitamins A, D, E, And K

There are two types of vitamins. Fat soluble and water soluble.

Water-soluble vitamins, like vitamins B and C, are easily flushed out of your body by the kidneys if they go beyond the required threshold.

But that is not the case with the four fat-soluble vitamins - A, D, E, and K.

When you consume too many supplements of these vitamins, they get deposited in your body's fat stores and over time lead to serious consequences.

For example, hypervitaminosis A can change the colour of your skin to bright orange and lead to blurring of the vision, bony pain, and dizziness.

So, before you consume any vitamin supplements, always get your blood tested to see if your current level is within the normal range. And if it is not, only consume them under a doctor's prescription.

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#12 Coffee

Coffee is one of the most consumed beverages around the world. And while we are sure that you know it is addictive, what we bet you do not know is that too much of coffee can actually kill you.

In fact, studies have shown that you should not consume more than 400 mg of caffeine per day because beyond this threshold, your body will start showing symptoms of caffeine overdose, which includes heart palpitations, discomfort in your chest, and seizures.

And coffee isn't the product that contains caffeine in it. It is also found in black tea, dark chocolate, and aerated drinks.

Please note: If you are a pregnant woman, please do not have more than 200 mg of coffee per day. In fact, it's better if you cut it out completely because the exact effect of caffeine on your growing child is still not known.

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#13 Water

Yes, you read that right. Water can kill you if you drink too much of it in a very short period of time either because you were dared or forced to.

This is because of a condition called water intoxication, where your kidneys fail to process the amount of water entering your body, and thus, cannot protect your brain and lungs from swelling up.

Please note: The recommended daily intake of water is 2.7 L for women and 3.7 L for men. Anything beyond that is bad for your health as well.

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Story first published: Tuesday, January 9, 2018, 19:00 [IST]
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