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Lethal Doses

A well known fact about alcohol, is that it should be consumed in reasonable quantities. You probably have legal warning in advertisement for drinks in your country. If that is of interest, you can have a look at Health Warning Labels for various countries.

But that’s not the point here, what I want to do, is to list the amount of some common things we do intake regularly, and that can be lethal in higher quantities, and try to relate it to the quantity of beverage or food we would have to consume in order to reach this amount.

Obviously, this would have to be absorbed quite fast, as the body would try to eliminate as much of it as fast as it can.

Remember that this are assumed lethal doses, serious problems will arise far earlier! Please do not assume you can safely go to half of this without any issues, plus all this is only theoretical.


The generally admitted lethal dose is of 0.4% Blood Alcohol Content.

It seems that sums up from 5 to 8g per kilogram for an adult. So if we take the lower limit, and a person weighting 60kg, this means 300g of alcohol.

  • A bottle of Żubrówka is 700ml at 40% = 280g -> 1.07 bottles
  • A bottle of red wine of 750ml, at 13% = 97.5g -> 3.07 bottles
  • Beer in between at 6.5% in 33ml bottles = 2.145g -> 139 bottles


In human, the dose is estimated to be 150 to 200mg per kilogram. For an average adult, Wikipedia tells us that this means 80 to 100 cups of coffee.

That will obviously depends on the type an preparation of the coffee, but it will still be quite hard to drink this much coffee in a short span of time. But there are a lot of pills and candy with caffeine (some of you may know ThinkGeek’s Food & Caffeine section), which may take you to the danger zone faster.


As I earlier shared on G+, potassium can be lethal too, and common source of potassium are bananas: everything is explained right here, but to sum it up, you would need 195000mg of potassium, or about 487 bananas: Good luck with that!


Ok, this one may not be one you’ll have to worry too often about in your life, but I love the fact that after all the “Eat your vegetables, you need your vitamins!”, we can die from too much of one of these vitamins.

Having too much of a given vitamin is known as Hypervitaminosis which you can apparently have for vitamins A, D, E and maybe K.

  • Vitamin A: Liver contains a lot of it, mostly in polar bear, seal, walrus, moose and husky. Polar bear are the most known about this because explorer of the Arctic regions came back with lot of illness due to it. Its toxicity levels are kind of complex.
  • Vitamin D: It does seem that the only source to have more of it are supplement orally taken.
  • Vitamin E: There is not much information about it... Wikipedia page page is quite short, and there are not a lot of other sources online.

Unfortunately for the kids, you won’t be able to tell your mom you’ve had enough and she’s putting you at risk, finish your plate of broccoli!

There are quite a lot, and I won’t dive myself in all the drugs lethal doses, but if you have more info, feel free to add information in the comments or on G+ :)