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The Supplements Doctors Say to Stop Taking Now

Six supplements you shouldn't take according to doctors.

According to the Consumer Survey on Dietary Supplements, "Seventy-six percent of U.S. adults—more than 170 million—take dietary supplements, according to the CRN 2017 Survey on Dietary Supplements conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of the association." But are consumers getting the benefits they think? Some experts say no. Eat This, Not That! Health talked to two doctors who explained how certain supplements are not only ineffective, but harmful. Read the six supplements you stay away from 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.



kava kava supplement capsules on brown wooden plate
Shutterstock / Iryna Imago

Dr. Jae Pak, M.D., of Jae Pak Medical says, "Many people take kava to help them get restful sleep, but long-term use of this supplement has been linked to liver damage. If you're looking for a natural sleep aid, try melatonin. It works great and is pretty benign as far as adverse side effects." 


St. John's Wort

st johns wort

According to Dr. Pak, "This is a popular natural supplement to take to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression. However, be mindful of mixing it with other drugs because it can cause harmful interactions. If you're taking antidepressants already, throwing St. John's Wort in the mix can cause serotonin toxicity, which can be very dangerous to your system. It can also cause adverse reactions when taken with statins or certain blood thinners, and it can decrease the effectiveness of oral contraceptives." 

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supplements calcium

"Calcium is an essential mineral, but research that followed 24,000 adults over a period of several years found that those who regularly took calcium supplements had an 86% higher heart attack risk than those who didn't use supplements," Dr. Pak explains. "If you're concerned about calcium intake, it's best to get it from food because it's absorbed more slowly that way and doesn't cause drastic spikes that are linked to dangerous lipid levels." 

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Ephedra and Ma Huang

Ancient Medicinal Plant Ephedra

Dr. Jonathan Adam Fialkow, cardiologist and lipidologist at Baptist Health's Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute states, "Ephedra and ma huang are stimulants that have been shown to have heart risk. The FDA banned them in 2004 but some compounds are still in supplements. Pseudoephedrine is a decongestant that has milder but similar effects. Raises heart rate and blood pressure."

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"L-arginine: some take for perceived (and not proven) heart benefit but can lower blood pressure, especially in combination with certain medications like Viagra that can lead to passing out or other heart conditions," Dr. Fialkow says. 

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Dry Glycyrrhiza or licorice root in wooden spoon on white background.

Dr. Fialkow explains, "Glycyrrhizin in licorice root can lower potassium levels which can be dangerous if you have arrhythmias or take medications that can also lower potassium like diuretics for blood pressure. It can also raise blood pressure."  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