Some harmless things you eat, drink, and use all the time that could kill you.

So can too much of other things that most of us take for granted — from caffeine to the stuff you use to clean your bathroom.

To calculate how much of each of these items would be dangerous enough to kill, we’ve used a standard measure of toxicity known as LD50, the individual dose it would take to kill half the animals it was tested on.

Excessive coffee

Coffee’s great for making you feel more alert and boosting your attention span, and, at low doses, it’s perfectly safe.

But at high concentrations, caffeine can cause insomnia, dizziness, vomiting, headaches, and heart problems, and too much in one sitting can be deadly.

The risk of overdoing it is highest for pure powdered caffeine. A single tablespoon of this stuff — the equivalent of about 120 cups of coffee — can kill. 

To much of water

hiker drinking bottled water in desert

Water regulates the shape of the cells inside our bodies — too much of it, and they puff up like balloons. Too little, and they shrink. 

An excess of water in and around our cells is called water intoxication, or hyponatremia. Drinking too much water, something athletes can do accidentally while training, can cause it.

But an extreme case of water intoxication takes its worst toll on the brain, where our tightly packed neurons have little room to accommodate the extra water. A variety of neurological problems can result, from headaches to confusion, seizures, and, in rare untreated cases, death.

Excessive use of salt


Just as you can overdo it with water, you can also overdo it with its antidote: salt.

The delicate balance of water and salt (or sodium) in and around our cells is what keeps them happy. When there’s too little sodium (too much water), the cells swell up. When there’s too much sodium (too little water), on the other hand, they shrink.

This condition is known as hypernatremia. Its milder symptoms include fatigue and weakness, but if the condition worsens it can lead to seizures, a coma and, in rare cases, death.

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