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I'm a Pharmacist and Never Recommend These Vitamins

Pharmacist explains why you should avoid these five vitamins. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Vitamins are needed in order to sustain a healthy lifestyle and while most people can get the nutrients they need from a balanced diet, others may need to supplement with a vitamin. Millions of Americans take a daily vitamin, but not all of them are effective. Many can have harmful side effects or just don't work, making them a waste of money. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Dr. Kristina Telhami, Doctor of Pharmacy, Holistic Health Coach, Functional Medicine Specialist, and an Integrative Health Practitioner who shares which vitamins to avoid and why. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.

1

Fish Oil

woman taking fish oil
Shutterstock / blackzheep

Dr. Telhami says, "I know this is a controversial topic because most doctors and health-care professionals recommend fish oil supplements for heart health and lowering triglyceride levels. The main concern with fish oil supplements is that they are high in omega 3 fatty acids, which are polyunsaturated fatty acids. These fats are actually not stable in heat, meaning they can become rancid and cause inflammation in the body. In addition, too much polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) can slow down our metabolism."

2

Iron

assortment of red pills and capsules of iron supplements
Shutterstock

Dr. Telhami explains, "Most people take iron supplements because they have been told they are anemic or have low iron in their blood work. While it is important to make sure we have iron levels within range, there are some issues to taking iron supplements. First, too much iron can increase inflammation, feed pathogens, and even impact estrogen levels. It can cause inflammation when iron reacts with hydrogen peroxide in the body. We also have something called the iron recycling system, and adding more iron to this mix doesn't help improve it. Iron status is complex and it requires more than these values to determine what to do next. Serum iron shows us the efficiency of iron in the body. Just adding more iron is not going to get things moving the way you want. More iron can even exacerbate conditions like endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids, diabetes, IBS/IBD, insulin resistance, and autoimmune conditioners. Instead of supplementing with iron, consume copper rich foods like oysters, grass-fed beef, chlorophyll, and whole-food vitamin C. Stop supplementing with vitamin D and consume vitamin A rich foods like beef liver, high quality dairy, eggs, meat, and wild-caught fish."

3

Vitamin D


woman taking vitamin D3
Shutterstock

Dr. Telhami tells us, "I know vitamin D deficiency is extremely common these days, and most people reach towards taking a supplement right away. Vitamin D is important for neurotransmission, cell growth, immune system, inflammation, and gene coding. It is an essential fat-soluble vitamin that we get mostly from the sun and little from our food. While it is important to have optimal vitamin D levels, we must understand that there is more to converting and utilizing vitamin D in the body than just the sun or taking a supplement. We need adequate amounts of vitamin A and magnesium stores in the body, as well as a functioning liver to utilize it. The reason for a vitamin D deficiency might actually be inadequate levels of magnesium, vitamin A, or a sluggish liver. In addition, low fat diets, lack of sunlight, and even aluminum in toxic sunscreens can all be root causes of your vitamin D deficiency."

4

Zinc

Vitamin pills spilling from an open bottle
iStock

"Zinc is normally taken for immune support, especially when sick," Dr. Telhami says." The issue with zinc supplementation is that it depletes copper levels. Zinc and copper are both synergistic and antagonistic, which means too much zinc can push copper down. The same goes for too much copper. If you think you are too low in zinc, you might actually be low in magnesium. If our liver is depleted of magnesium, it uses zinc as a replacement."

5

Multivitamins

Young Woman Taking Yellow Fish Oil Pill.
Shutterstock

Dr. Telhami states, "I included multivitamins last because you might understand why these might be harmful given the information stated earlier. Most multivitamins contain these supplements listed above, such as iron and vitamin D, which can lead to further mineral imbalances. Most multivitamins also contain vitamin A but in the beta carotene form. Our bodies convert beta carotene to retinol, which is the active form of vitamin A. When taking beta carotene, it actually reduces the amount of active vitamin A you might be getting from the supplement. Lastly, most multivitamins contain synthetic and isolated forms of nutrients. This does not act the same way in the body as getting these nutrients from real whole foods. Instead of taking a multivitamin, focus on getting your nutrients from whole foods and being mindful about what supplements to take."

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather