5 Supplements to Take Out of Your Cart Now
There are more than 29,000 supplements on the market, with another 1000 being launched every year, according to the FDA—but many are a waste of money if not downright dangerous. "Patients ask all the time, 'What supplements should I be taking?' They're wasting money and focus thinking there has to be a magic set of pills that will keep them healthy when we should all be following the evidence-based practices of eating healthy and exercising," says Dr. Jeffrey Linder, chief of general internal medicine in the department of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Here are five supplements you should never use, according to experts. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Vitamins A and E
Taking vitamins A and E can be dangerous, experts warn. "A 2012 review of research published in the Cochrane Database found that taking daily vitamin E supplements may increase the risk of dying prematurely," says Donald Hensrud, MD. "Vitamin A — The same review found large doses of vitamin A supplements were also associated with an increased risk of dying prematurely."
"Supplementation with beta-carotene, a compound that's converted to vitamin A by the body, was also shown to increase risk of death, especially for smokers or former smokers," says Dr. Hensrud. "Since vitamin A deficiency is rare in the U.S., it's probably not worth the potential risk to take this supplement."
Iron and Copper
Taking too much iron and copper could be linked to dementia, experts warn. "Iron plays a key role in younger women's diets for menstrual cycles and pregnancy, but the recommendations for iron after menopause significantly decrease," recommends Cleveland Clinic. "Despite the lower guidelines (8 mg per day after age 50) many postmenopausal women still take supplements that contain iron and copper. One study linked excess iron and copper to increased incidence of Alzheimer's disease and heart disease."
Vitamin C supplements could interfere with prescription medication, doctors say. "High doses of vitamin C may cause diarrhea or stomach upset," says Robert H. Shmerling, MD. "There have also been concerns that high-dose vitamin C supplementation may interfere with blood thinners or cholesterol-lowering medications."
Be careful about any supplements that claim to prevent COVID-19. "Though COVID-19 is a new illness, a few clinical trials have explored the possibility that supplements may be effective," says Dr. Shmerling. "And, unfortunately, most of the evidence is unconvincing. For example, a few observational studies link lower blood vitamin levels with a higher risk of testing positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 (see this study and this one). But studies like these cannot prove that vitamin D protects people against infection. Further, a randomized controlled study of people with moderate to severe COVID-19 who received a high dose of vitamin D showed no benefit."
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