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Supplements That are "Not Worth Paying For"

These 5 supplements are a waste of money, expert says.

Consumers don't have a shortage of options when it comes to supplements, but not all of them have the benefits people are seeking. Not only is there a lot of misinformation when it comes to certain vitamins, but some have harmful interactions with medications and just aren't effective when it comes to boosting your immune system or fighting off health ailments. Eat This, Not That! Health talked to Mahtab Jafari, Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the director of the UCI Center for Healthspan Sciences at the University of California, Irvine and author of "The Truth About Dietary Supplements" who revealed five supplements that are not worth paying for 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.


Vitamin C

vitamin c

According to Jafari, "There's a misconception that vitamin C helps cure the common cold, or prevent being infected with COVID-19, or makes us immune when it comes to viral infections but as of to date there's been no evidence that's the case. Vitamin C is good for our immune system but instead of buying expensive supplements with questionable qualities, you can just get the Vitamin C that your body needs by eating citrus fruits (orange) or red and green pepper.

My recommendation:

Consume orange, red/green pepper, broccoli, strawberries, and tomatoes.

And boost your immune system by a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercising, managing your stress, and sleeping at least 7 hours per night."


Mixture of Herbal Products

aromatherapy treatment with herbal flowers

Jafari says, "I would stay away from 'proprietary' mixtures of herbals and botanicals. The label of such dietary supplements would not state how much of each herbal ingredient is in the mixture and unless the product has a USP stamp, it would be impossible to know what the quality of each herb or ingredient is. Also, these herbs can potentially interact with the medications we are taking.

My recommendation:

Stay away from herbal mixtures that do not report the amount of each ingredient (and in general with questionable quality!)."

RELATED: The #1 Reason You Can't Lose Your Abdominal Fat



person holding pills in their hands

"Elderberry is reported to have antiviral properties due to its ability to modulate inflammation.," Jafari states. "However, the results of small clinical studies (mostly funded by the companies that sell elderberry) on the efficacy of elderberry to prevent or treat the common cold are conflicting. Some people believe that since elderberry is derived from a plant (Sambucus nigra), it should be safe. That is simply not true, and elderberries can be quite harmful because some elderberry formulations do not use the flowers or the ripe fruits. Patients with diabetes should refrain from taking elderberries because it can interfere with insulin secretion and glucose metabolism. Patients with heart disease should also stay away from elderberries because it can result in low blood pressure and an increase in heart rate. Elderberry can also cause dehydration and low levels of potassium due to diuresis and can interfere with prescription drugs such as immunosuppressants. As of now, there are NO STUDIES to prove that elderberries can prevent or cure COVID-19.

My recommendation:

Boost your immune system by a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, exercising, managing your stress, and sleeping at least 7 hours per night."

RELATED: Sure Signs You Caught Omicron, Say Experts


Vitamin D

vitamin d in the sun

Jafari explains, "For most of us, we have Vitamin D deficiency (levels below 50 nmol/L (20 ng/mL), we need to take a Vitamin D supplement and ask our healthcare provider to recommend the right dose according to our blood level. The scientific studies that evaluated the efficacy of vitamin D for COVID-19 point in a common direction: Vitamin D deficiency may make people more prone to become infected and develop COVID- 19. Consumption of high doses of vitamin D (often more than 4000 IU per day) can result in adverse effects including high levels of calcium, so it's important to monitor your intake.

My recommendation:

Consume fortified vitamin D foods (milk, soy milk, almond milk, cereals, yogurt, etc.), fatty fish (wild salmon, trout, tuna), and eggs. Sun exposure 15-30 minutes per day (our skin does not make vitamin D from sunlight through a window)."

RELATED: The #1 Reason You Look Older and How to Reverse It


Weight Loss Over The Counter or Dietary Supplements

Colorful pills and medicine in the hand

Jafari says, "There is no scientific evidence behind any weight loss supplements. If the product claims to be a natural weight loss product and you are losing weight without following a good nutrition plan or increasing your activity, there is a high chance that the product is adulterated with dangerous ingredients such as ephedra, amphetamine like products, sibutramine (a diet drug pulled out of the market by FDA in 2010 because it caused stroke and heart disease), phenolphthalein (a laxative linked to cancer) or other laxatives. Ephedra was removed from the market by the FDA due to its fatal adverse effects such as heart attacks. Also, as of to date, there is no scientific evidence behind using products that contain natural plants such as Garcinia cambogia. If anything, the poor quality of these products can harm you.

My recommendation:

Maintaining healthy weight can only be achieved by a healthy lifestyle, a sound nutrition plan, exercising, managing stress, and getting sufficient sleep." And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

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