Vitamin supplements are marketed as an easy way to provide your body with the nutrients it needs without worrying about following an ideal diet, but did you know that some of them are the most unhealthy supplements you shouldn’t be taking? If you take vitamin supplements daily, you may assume that you are doing something good for your body. But in some cases, you do the exact opposite.
“Numerous studies show that the purported benefits are not proven, and in the worst cases, vitamins and supplements can be harmful,” says Dr. Mike Warshawski, DO. Want to make sure you’re not putting yourself at risk by taking “healthy” supplements? Here are seven of the most unhealthy supplements you shouldn’t take. Read on – and to keep yourself and others safe, watch out for these signs that your illness is actually a disguised coronavirus.
Top 7 Popular Supplements Contain Hidden Dangers
1) You Must Be Careful Before Taking Calcium
Calcium helps maintain bone strength and heart rate. But for proper absorption of calcium, it must be accompanied by the right amount of vitamin D. And if this is not the case? Excess calcium can be deposited in the arteries instead of helping the bones.
A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association analyzed 2,700 people who took calcium supplements over 10 years and concluded that excess calcium caused a buildup in the aorta and other arteries. Calcium is essential, but it’s healthier to get it directly from your diet.
2) Kava May Have Side Effects
Kava is a natural supplement used to treat anxiety and insomnia. “Cava supplements may have little effect on reducing anxiety, but they are associated with the risk of serious liver damage,” says the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). While it can reduce anxiety, too much kava can lead to liver damage or failure.
The supplement can also cause “digestive upset, headache, dizziness and other side effects,” says the NCCIH. If you choose to take kava for anxiety, be careful with the dosage and length of regular supplementation to prevent permanent damage.
3) Soy Isolate May Help But Has Problems
“Soy products are used to treat menopausal symptoms, bone health, memory improvement, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol,” the NCCIH reports. Menopausal or perimenopausal women can take soy isolate supplements to prevent symptoms such as hot flashes.
But be careful with the long-term effects of these supplements. Long-term use of soy isoflavone supplements may increase the risk of endometrial hyperplasia (thickening of the lining of the uterus that can lead to cancer), says the NCCIH.
“It’s okay to eat whole soy foods – like soy milk, edamame, and tofu – in moderation, several times per week,” says Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital. However, she warns to stay away from soy isolate supplements or foods made from textured vegetable protein or soy protein isolate due to their negative health effects.
4) Red Yeast Rice Is Not Always Recommended
Red yeast rice helps lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and prevents heart disease, just like situations. However, these supplements are associated with a myriad of potential side effects. “Like statins, red yeast rice can cause the same side effects as statins, including muscle, liver, and kidney problems,” says Dr. Marvin M. Lipman, MD, FACP, FACE of Scarsdale Medical Group.
A study published in Pharmacy and Therapeutics analyzed the benefits and risks of red yeast rice. He concluded that the supplement is “not recommended for patients with hypercholesterolemia” and “has not been proven to be a safe alternative to statins for patients with hyperlipidemia.” If you are concerned about cholesterol levels, eat healthy foods, exercise, and consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
5) Ginkgo Sometimes Doesn’t Go Well With Others
Ginkgo is an herbal supplement used as a natural treatment for anxiety, dementia, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. It has also been associated with improved memory function. However, if you are taking other supplements or medications, the side effects of ginkgo can quickly outweigh the benefits.
“Ginkgo can lower blood pressure, so taking it along with blood pressure medications can cause blood pressure too low,” said experts at Penn State Hershey Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. The supplement may also “increase the risk of bleeding, especially if you are taking anticoagulants such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), and aspirin.”
Ginkgo also increases and decreases blood sugar levels, so stay away from it if you have diabetes. Check with your doctor if you are taking any medications or other supplements before taking ginkgo.
6) Beta Carotene – No Smoking
Beta-carotene is a popular supplement, because according to Kaiser Permanente. it acts as an “antioxidant and immune system booster.” But if you smoke or have an increased risk of lung cancer, you are advised to refrain from synthetic beta-carotene supplements at all costs.
“Beta-carotene use has been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer in people who smoke or have been exposed to asbestos,” warns the Mayo Clinic.
The study, published in the journal Nicotine and Tobacco Research, analyzed male smokers who took beta-carotene supplements. The study concluded that “the supplement group had a significantly higher risk of lung cancer across all resin categories.”
If you use tobacco products or are at high risk of lung cancer, do not include beta-carotene in your daily supplements.
7) St. John’s Wort Interacts Poorly With Antidepressants
St. John’s wort is an herbal supplement that helps with sleep disorders and can curb mild anxiety or depression. However, if you are already taking medication for depression or anxiety, it is best to stay away.
“St. John’s wort has been linked to very serious and potentially dangerous interactions with many common medications,” says the Cleveland Clinic. “St. John’s wort can weaken the effects of other medicines, including antidepressants, birth control pills, cyclosporine (anti-rejection medicine), digoxin (heart medicine), HIV medicines, cancer medicines, and blood thinners such as Coumadin.”
If you mix St. John’s wort with medications for depression, you can experience a dangerous rise in serotonin levels called serotonin syndrome. Check with your doctor before taking St. John’s wort or any other supplement. As for you, to survive this pandemic as healthy as possible.