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Supplements That Are a Waste of Cash Say Experts

Don't spend your money on these supplements, experts warn. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

If your daily routine is to take a dietary supplements, you're not alone. According to the American Osteopathic Association, "More than 4 in 5 American adults (86 percent) take vitamins or supplements. However, only about a quarter (24 percent) of those taking vitamins or supplements received test results indicating they have a nutritional deficiency." But are supplements really beneficial? "Most people have no need to take vitamins and are wasting their money on supplements that are unlikely to improve their health and may actually harm it, " says Mike Varshavski, DO, an osteopathic family physician. People with a documented nutritional deficiency can often correct the problem more effectively through their natural diet." Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with medical experts who explain which supplements are a waste of money 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.



Calcium supplement tablet pills on dark wooden background

Sean Marchese, MS, RN, a registered nurse at The Mesothelioma Center with a background in oncology clinical trials and over 15 years of direct patient care experience says, "Calcium supplements were once widely recommended by health care providers for bone health, but recent research has reversed some of that thinking. New studies show that calcium supplements do not reliably decrease the risk of hip fractures but may lead to life-threatening cardiac events. Notably, calcium from food sources is not correlated with an increased risk of heart attacks. For people who require supplemental calcium, the most reliable and safest source would be through an improved diet, such as dairy, sweet potato, carrots, green beans, broccoli, kelp and oranges." 



CBD hemp oil, Hand holding bottle of Cannabis oil against Marijuana plant. Herbal Treatment, Alternative Medicine

Marchese states, "As part of one of the most significant marketing trends for alternative medicine over the last decade, CBD has had no shortage of advertisements and product integration, from cosmetics to hamburgers. However, this newest miracle drug has countless myths with several sources of misinformation. Many manufacturers claim that CBD can help reduce anxiety, depression, insomnia and pain, but scientific evidence has found only one medically proven benefit of CBD — the treatment of a rare seizure disorder in children. Plus, CBD can be derived from both hemp and marijuana, making it difficult to determine whether you're receiving CBD from a source that could provide any benefit. The official FDA classification of CBD is Schedule 1, meaning it has "no medical value," and no studies have been significant enough to refute that claim. Because CBD is not FDA-approved, there is no regulation for CBD products. Lab tests on many CBD-labeled products have revealed little to no levels of CBD. As with any supplement, check with your doctor if CBD is safe for use, whether it may benefit your condition and where you can reliably purchase it from a trustworthy vendor." 


Collagen Can Be Good is is a Waste if You're Getting Enough Already

collagen supplements

"Collagen is a relatively simple supplement that people have taken for decades to improve hair, skin, nails and bones," Marchese shares. "Collagen supplements usually include powdered animal bones, ligaments and tendons, but some synthetic variants are also available. However, our bodies make the required amount of collagen daily and even have signaling mechanisms to determine when it needs to repair collagen. We make collagen from foods rich in vitamin C and amino acids, such as peppers, green leafy vegetables and fruits. Chicken, fish, broth, berries, garlic, beans and nuts also increase levels of hyaluronic acid and collagen in the body. Limiting foods that cause inflammation, such as fats or oils, and increasing antioxidant sources can keep collagen healthy. With a varied and well-rounded diet, there is no need for a daily collagen supplement." 



vitamins and supplements

Marchese tells us, "Perhaps the most egregious example of unnecessary supplements is the multivitamin. Current evidence suggests that any potential benefit from a multivitamin is small and that most healthy adults receive no benefit from a daily multivitamin. A recent study showed that for a healthy 65-year-old woman with a 9-year mortality risk of about 8.0%, taking a multivitamin for 5 to 10 years might reduce the estimated mortality risk to 7.5%. Additionally, many adults use multivitamins to replace healthy lifestyle habits, leading to a shorter lifespan overall."



selenium supplement tablets

According to Marchese, "A small amount of selenium in the diet may provide some health benefits, such as anti-inflammation, but selenium supplements are likely to do more harm than good. Some sources tout selenium for its ability to prevent cancer, but a recent major study found that selenium could increase the risk of prostate cancer and have potentially damaging effects in people with diabetes. The body can absorb enough selenium from natural sources such as beef, nuts and tuna."  


Water-Soluble Vitamins

Smiling young lady looking at her vitamins

Eric Cioe-Peña, MD, Director of Global Health and ED Physician at Staten Island University Hospital tells us, "In general, most vitamins and vitamin supplements that are taken beyond the daily allowance which is virtually every individual vitamin that is listed are what we call water-soluble.  Water-soluble vitamins when you take too many of them get excreted almost instantaneously in your urine. Water-soluble vitamins are every vitamin except vitamin A, D, E, and K. Those 4 are fat-soluble and can be stored in your fat and when you take too much of them can generate toxicity.  

The other vitamins like vitamins B and C which are often taken for things like boosting your immune system or feeling better more quickly after an infection are not stored.  Taking large doses of vitamins C or C and any other water-soluble vitamins will just result in very expensive urine. There are nine water-soluble vitamins: the B vitamins — folate, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 — and vitamin C."

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