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.
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.