Popular supplements that can be dangerous, say experts
Vitamin supplements are marketed as easy ways to provide your body with the nutrients it needs without having to follow a perfect diet, but did you know that some are the most unhealthy supplements that you shouldn’t be taking? If you are on a daily regimen of vitamin supplements, you can assume that you are doing something healthy for your body. But in some cases, you do the exact opposite.
“Numerous surveys show that the claimed benefits are unproven and in the worst case, vitamins and supplements can be harmful,” says Dr Mike Varshavski, DO. Want to make sure you’re not putting yourself at risk with your “healthy” supplements? Here are seven of the most unhealthy supplements you shouldn’t be taking. Read on to find out more and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You May Have Already Had COVID.
You must be careful before taking calcium
Calcium helps keep your bones strong and your heart pumping. But to be well absorbed, calcium must be accompanied by the right amount of vitamin D. What if not? The extra calcium can get into your arteries instead of helping your bones.
A to study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association analyzed 2,700 people who took calcium supplements for 10 years and concluded that excess calcium caused a buildup in the aorta and other arteries. Calcium is essential, but getting it straight from your diet is healthier.
Kava is a natural supplement used to treat anxiety and insomnia. “Kava supplements may have a small effect on reducing anxiety, but they have been linked to a risk of serious liver damage,” according to 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 disturbances, headaches, dizziness, and other side effects,” says the NCCIH. If you choose to take kava for anxiety, pay attention to your dosage and how long you regularly take the supplement to avoid permanent damage.
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“Soy products are used for menopause symptoms, bone health, memory improvement, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. ” according to the NCCIH. Women who are postmenopausal or perimenopausal can take soy isolate supplements to prevent symptoms, such as hot flashes.
But beware of the long term effects of these supplements. “Long-term use of soy isoflavone supplements may increase the risk of endometrial hyperplasia (a 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 a week,” says Katherine D. McManus, MS, RD, LDN from Brigham and Women’s Hospital. However, she cautions against soy isolate supplements or foods made with textured vegetable protein or soy protein isolate due to their negative health effects.
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Red yeast rice claims to help lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and prevent heart disease, like statins. However, these supplements are associated with a host of potential side effects. “Like statins, red yeast rice can cause the exact same side effects as statins, and this includes muscle, liver and kidney problems,” explains Dr Marvin M. Lipman, MD, FACP, FACE from the Scarsdale Medical Group.
A study published in Pharmacy and therapy 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 shown to be a safe alternative to statins for patients with hyperlipidemia”. If you are concerned about your cholesterol levels, eat a healthy diet, exercise, and consult your doctor before taking any supplements.
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Ginkgo is an herbal supplement used as a natural treatment for anxiety, dementia, glaucoma, and macular degeneration. It has also been associated with an increased memory function. However, if you take other supplements or medications, the side effects of ginkgo can quickly outweigh the benefits.
“Ginkgo can lower blood pressure, so taking it with blood pressure medication can lower blood pressure too low,” experts say. PennState Hershey Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. The supplement may also “increase your risk of bleeding, especially if you are taking blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), and aspirin”.
Ginkgo also raises and lowers blood sugar levels, so avoid it if you have diabetes. Consult your doctor if you are taking any medications or other supplements before taking ginkgo.
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Beta-carotene is a popular supplement because it acts as “an antioxidant and an immune system booster,” according to Kaiser Permanente. But if you are a smoker or have an increased risk of lung cancer, you are advised to stay away from synthetic beta-carotene supplements at all costs.
“The use of beta-carotene has been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer in people who smoke or have been exposed to asbestos,” warns the Mayo Clinic.
A study published in Nicotine and tobacco research analyzed male smokers who took beta-carotene supplements. The study concluded that the “supplementation group had a significantly higher risk of developing lung cancer in all tar content categories.”
If you use tobacco products or have a high risk of lung cancer, do not include beta-carotene in your daily supplements.
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St. John’s Wort is an herbal supplement that helps relieve sleep disturbances and may reduce anxiety or mild depression. However, if you are already taking medication for depression or anxiety, it is best to stay away.
“St. John’s Wort has been associated with very serious and potentially dangerous interactions with many common drugs,” according to the cleveland clinic. “St. John’s Wort may make other medicines less effective, including antidepressants, birth control pills, cyclosporine (an anti-rejection medicine), digoxin (a medicine for the heart), anti-HIV medicines, anti- cancer and blood thinners such as Coumadin. “
If you mix St. John’s Wort with anti-depressant medications, you may experience a dangerous increase in serotonin levels, called serotonin syndrome. Consult your doctor before taking St. John’s Wort or any other supplement. And to get through this pandemic in better health, don’t miss these 35 places where you’re most likely to catch COVID.