6 Supplements to Avoid Taking, According to Doctors
If you're eating a balanced diet, chances are you don't need a dietary supplement, but vitamin deficiencies can happen, especially with certain health issues like Crohn's disease, which can make it difficult to absorb the essential nutrients needed. Taking a supplement can be beneficial, but it's always recommended to speak to a physician first because many can cause harmful side effects or are just ineffective. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with doctors who share six supplements to avoid and why. As always, consult with your healthcare provider for medical advice. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Kelly Johnson-Arbor, MD, FACEP, FUHM, FACMT Medical Toxicologist and Co-Medical Director at the National Capital Poison Center explains, "Tejocote is a species of Hawthorn; the root of the plant is often dried and sold as a weight-loss supplement. While the Tejocote plant itself is associated with minimal toxicity, use of tejocote root as a dietary supplement has been reported to cause gastrointestinal distress, chest pain, and other unwanted symptoms. An analysis of tejocote root supplements found that some of them are contaminated with toxic chemicals, including oleander."
Velvet Elk Antler
Dr. Johnson-Arbor says, "Although the name "velvet elk" sounds like a dreamy Disney character, the term actually refers to the fine hair (or "velvet") that covers regenerating deer antlers. Velvet elk antler (sometimes called "elk antler velvet" or "deer velvet") is a dietary supplement that contains powdered antler velvet, and it's often marketed as a supplement for immune system enhancement, increased athletic performance, and improved sexual function. This supplement is potentially dangerous because deer or elk antlers can contain prions.. Prions believed to be the cause of the Creutzfeldt–Jakob Disease, a rare but nearly always fatal brain disorder. Since elk antler velvet can contain prions, humans may be at risk for contracting diseases transmitted by prions if they take velvet elk antler supplements."
Dr. Johnson-Arbor shares, "Apoaequorin is a protein that is derived from bioluminescent jellyfish that is described to improve memory by enhancing calcium activity within the brain. While that sounds intriguing, there is no data to suggest that this protein is absorbed into the human body after digestion, or that it is able to enter the brain at all."
Dr. Jacob Hascalovici MD, PhD Clearing Chief Medical Officer says, "Often touted as good for the bones, calcium ingested as a supplement has been linked to higher risks of heart attacks. As scientists learn more about calcium supplementation, it appears that it may be wiser to ingest calcium through foods rather than as stand-alone supplements. Even if you are concerned about osteoporosis, it's good to double check with a medical professional to ensure calcium supplementation is the right answer for you."
Dr. Hascalovici tells us, "Ginkgo biloba is natural and often viewed as beneficial for memory and blood flow. However, ginkgo biloba can interfere with many common medications, including drugs for mood disorders, diabetes, and pain, sometimes with very negative consequences. People with epilepsy should generally steer clear of ginkgo biloba, as it can lead to seizures."
According to Dr. Hascalovici, " Beta-Carotene, which makes vitamin A, can unfortunately be overdone. In one study, researchers found that among men, beta-carotene supplementation was associated with a higher risk of lung cancer. Better to get your beta-carotene and vitamin A from sweet potatoes, carrots, and other bright veggies."
Poison Control Can Help With Side Effects from Supplements
Dr. Johnson-Arbor urges, "People who have unwanted or unexpected symptoms after vitamin or supplement use should contact poison control for expert advice. There are two ways to contact poison control in the United States: online at www.poison.org or by phone at 1-800-222-1222. Both options are free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day."