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I came across this sentence on Facebook today.

I think I might have overdosed on vitamins.

Does overdose on vitamins sound ok? Wouldn't it be better to say?

I might have overdone on vitamins

Overdose on/with heroin or drugs somehow makes more sense than overdose on vitamins, but just technically is it ok to say so in English?

Thank you.

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    You can overdose on anything you take in doses, which is generally how vitamins are taken. You can overdose on other stuff too. – Alan Carmack May 14 '16 at 2:15
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When the term "overdose" is applied to drugs or alcohol, the meaning is that the user has taken enough to cause serious medical problems. When said about somebody else, e.g., "Jenny overdosed on heroin", often the implication is that the drug killed them.

But "overdosed" can also be used figuratively to mean "had more than I should have", e.g., "This afternoon I overdosed on chocolate." Or even "Last weekend we overdosed on episodes of the Simpsons."

Your example "I think I might have overdosed on vitamins" is likely intended figuratively. It is possible to cause medical problems by taking too much of certain vitamins, but I doubt that applies in this case.

The word "overdone" means "done to excess", and doesn't have the implication of serious medical harm or death. The phrasing "overdone on" doesn't sound right in most contexts; it would usually be "overdone it with [something]" or "overdone the [something]". So the original sentence you mentioned could be rephrased as "I might have overdone it with the vitamins", or "I might have overdone the vitamins".

  • Overdosing on vitamins in the form of pills isn't even that difficult, really. It's just that consequences usually aren't that severe. – Davor May 14 '16 at 11:31
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I think I might have overdosed on vitamins.

This would be OK if you took an excessive amount of a certain vitamin. As long as doing so causes the possibility of harm, it is an overdose". The amount you are supposed to take, let's say 1 tablet a day, is the dose.
Though literally speaking, anything "over" the "dose" is an "overdose".

I might have overdone it with the vitamins.

This means that you have taken more vitamins than necessary, though not in amounts greater than recommended. Let's say you only need (medically speaking) vitamins A and C, but being a bit worrisome you also take multi-vitamins along with some other supplements.

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If I eat so many vitamin C's that I get a tummy ache, I would say that "I might have overdone it with the vitamin C."

If I have so many vitamin E capsules that my sweat smells like fish oil, then "I might have overdone it with the Vitamin E."

If my kid gets into the Iron tablets and eats so much that she has to be rushed to the ER to get IV fluids and a ventilator, then she has overdosed on Iron.. (Which happens - see link)

In the example you found, it sounds like it may have been a bit of an exaggeration, unless the FB poster was checking in from a hospital bed.

  • I bet she wasn't :) The person who posted it is not a native speaker of English (neither I am) that's why I wondered whether it was an intentional exaggeration, a joking way of saying that, or just a confusion with overdo. Thanks for a good explanation. – Arman McHitarian May 13 '16 at 21:17
  • You don't need to end up in a hospital if you took a too large a dose of something. I have no idea why you wouldn't say you overdosed on vitamin C if you were suffering a diarrea from, literally, overdosing on vitamin C. – Davor May 14 '16 at 11:32
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I think I might have overdosed on vitamins.

is understandable and sounds OK even though it's not really possible, except for Vitamin A which in high doses will affect your liver (so never eat the liver of a polar bear). As you thinking about it correctly that overdose has a lethal connotation.

I might have overdone on vitamins.
I might have overdone it on the vitamins.

sounds better since it means you may have taken more than necessary, but not enough to be fatal.

If you've overdosed on a medication, you've certainly overdone it.

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    I would say a "significant health risk" rather than "lethal/fatal". – user3169 May 13 '16 at 21:13
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    Vitamin A is not the only vitamin on which you can overdose. I suggest you do some research. – Makyen May 14 '16 at 1:57
  • Minor quibble, but since this is a site about how to use the English language: "effect your liver" literally means something like "cause your liver to happen" (dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/effect). Instead I would write that vitamin A can affect one's liver. – David K May 14 '16 at 12:56

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