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5 Supplements to Stop Buying Right Now

Experts advise taking these ineffective (or potentially dangerous) supplements off your shopping list.

According to a 2021 survey by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, 80% of Americans report taking dietary supplements, a jump of 7% in one year. That's no doubt due to the pandemic, as more of us purchased immune-boosting supplements such as vitamins C and D. There's strong data those two vitamins are beneficial. But at the same time, scientists have recently warned against taking certain supplements. You may have been buying some of them for years. These are five supplements you should stop buying right now. Read on to find out more—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


B Vitamins

Vitamin D capsule in a hand

Our bodies need B vitamins for energy production. But many multivitamin formulas and energy supplements contain extremely high doses, sometimes thousands of times more than the daily recommended allowance. That might be dangerous. Some studies have found an association between high levels of B vitamins like B12 and B6 and an increased risk of some cancers. On its website, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center says that taking vitamin B12 in combination with folate and B6  "may increase risk of lung or colorectal cancers. Additional studies are needed to determine how vitamin B12 levels may affect cancer risk."


Brain Health Supplements

Smiling young lady looking at her vitamins

Brain health has become a super-hot topic in recent years, and social media is rife with ads for supplements that promise brain-health benefits. The smart thing to do is save your money, say the experts at Harvard Medical School. There's no scientific evidence these supplements work. A better bet: Boost your brain function with science-backed lifestyle changes like eating a healthy diet (such as the Mediterranean or DASH diets) and getting plenty of physical and mental exercise.


Beta Carotene


Last May, the United States Protective Task Force (USPTF) published a draft statement on its website officially recommending against taking beta-carotene supplements. Studies have found that beta-carotene supplements may increase the chances of lung cancer in people who are already at higher risk (such as people who smoke or have been exposed to asbestos in the workplace). What's more, five studies have found a "statistically significant increased risk for cardiovascular disease mortality" in people who took beta-carotene supplements.


Vitamin E

vitamin d

The USPTF also said there was insufficient evidence to recommend taking vitamin E supplements. "The evidence shows there is no benefit to taking vitamin E and that beta-carotene can be harmful because it increases the risk of lung cancer in people already at risk, such as those who smoke, and also increases the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke," said John Wong, MD, of Tufts Medical Center, in a statement.

Additionally, vitamin E thins the blood, raising the risk of serious bleeding episodes. "Unless you have a reason to take vitamin E, you shouldn't be taking it as a random supplement," Kathryn Boling, MD, a family medicine doctor with Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, told ETNT Health. "The risk outweighs the benefit."




Biotin (technically vitamin B7) is a component in many supplements purported to improve the health of hair, skin and nails. The problem: There's no scientific evidence to back up those claims. Additionally, taking high doses of biotin (5 mg to 10 mg daily) has been associated with an increased risk of lung cancer in men. Biotin supplements can also interfere with the results of hormone and blood tests, including one used to diagnose heart attacks. In 2017, the FDA issued an official warning after a patient who was taking high doses of biotin died from a heart attack his physicians were unable to detect via standard blood test. And to ensure your health don't miss these 101 Health Habits You Didn't Know Were Deadly.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor. Read more about Michael