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These 4 Vitamins, Including Vitamin A, are "Worthless," Says Expert

Learn which vitamins aren't worth taking and why. 
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

There's no shortage of options when it comes to dietary supplements, but do you really need them? In some cases, yes. Many people have at least one vitamin deficiency and taking a supplement can help meet the required nutrients our bodies need. Some vitamin deficiencies can lead to issues such as depression, fatigue, poor wound healing and more, so staying on top of the essential vitamins needed is vital for overall well-being. 

However, people without a deficiency still take vitamins. The American Osteopathic Association reveals, " More than 4 in 5 American adults (86 percent) take vitamins or supplements, according to a recent online survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association. However, only about a quarter (24 percent) of those taking vitamins or supplements received test results indicating they have a nutritional deficiency." Experts have long debated whether people who don't have a deficiency should turn to vitamins. While that will likely be a discussion that won't be agreed upon anytime soon, making an informed decision on taking vitamins is vital for safety and health concerns. Some vitamins are not as safe as you think, according to doctors. 

"Supplements are meant to enhance health, however, some people find that certain supplements can be unsafe," Dr. Tomi Mitchell, a Board-Certified Family Physician with Holistic Wellness Strategies tells us. "The unregulated production of these supplements contains untested ingredients and false claims. The components may also be mixed with contaminants, such as heavy metals, or they could interact with prescription medications and cause dangerous side effects. Companies sometimes need to list all the ingredients on labels, leading to unhappy consumers who have no clue what is in the supplement they have purchased. The best way to avoid potential harm is to buy from reliable and reputable sources with clear ingredient lists." Read on to learn which vitamins are a waste of time, according to Dr. Mitchell and why you should always speak with your physician before taking supplements. As always, please consult with your doctor for medical advice. 


Why You Should Consult Your Physician Before Taking Vitamins

Woman sitting in semi position and listening to her dietician.

Dr. Mitchell explains, " Understanding the role of vitamins in patient management is something that I think about often as a physician. There are certainly times when I recommend specific vitamins to my patients based on the information that is out there. Still, there are also times when more research must be done to fully understand their benefits and how they interact with other medications or treatments. 

It takes an open-minded approach from practitioners and patients for us to learn as much as possible about these vitamins to make better decisions when determining a course of action for patient care. This two-way conversation between physician and patient is essential for successful disease management, and we must continue exploring the potential benefits that vitamins play in our treatment approaches."


What to Look For in Vitamins


Dr. Mitchell explains, "When selecting vitamins and dietary supplements, it is essential to research and ensure that you choose products that contain quality ingredients. Beyond the specific dosages of each nutrient listed on the label, it is wise to look for additional components like probiotics or adaptogens, which can aid in optimizing your health or improving nutrient absorption. 

You should also confirm that the vitamins are all-natural and free from harmful additives or synthetic fillers. Lastly, finding a product verified by a third-party lab or governmental organization can assure potency and potency claims made in promotional materials. Finally, doing some due diligence when shopping for vitamins can help ensure you get a safe and beneficial product without shady additives or fillers."


Vitamin E

woman taking vitamin D3

Dr. Mitchell says, "Vitamin E has long been thought to be beneficial to the human body, yet research has indicated that it is not necessarily worth taking. Specifically, Vitamin E appears to have little-to-no effect on cardiovascular health and cognitive decline, two of the most common reasons for adding this nutrient to a daily routine. Additionally, some studies point to potential risks when taking Vitamin E supplements due to their potential to interact with certain conditions and medications. As such, considering the lack of concrete evidence for its efficacy and potential for harm, Vitamin E may not be worth spending money on as a supplement.

Vitamin E is an essential nutrient in many foods and is vital for fighting off free radicals that can damage cells. Eating a balanced diet rich in natural sources of vitamin E can offer significant health benefits. Some good sources of vitamin E are almonds, sunflower seeds, peanut butter, pine nuts, avocados, spinach, and most other leafy greens. Other sources include olive oil and vegetable oils such as canola or corn. You can also get Vitamin E from wheat germ–a nutrient-dense food packed with vitamins and minerals. In addition to these plant-based sources, eggs may also contain a significant amount of natural Vitamin E if the chickens who produce them lead a healthy outdoor lifestyle."


Vitamin K2

Young Woman Taking Yellow Fish Oil Pill.

According to Dr. Mitchell, "Taking vitamins can benefit a person's overall health, but some supplements, such as Vitamin K2 and Niacin, are not worth your time or money. Vitamin K2 is found in the form of MK-4, which is helpful because it helps direct calcium and other minerals to their destination within the body. However, taking this vitamin orally could have adverse effects on health, including an increased risk of developing prostate cancer or excessive bleeding due to the overproduction of carboxylated vitamin K-dependent proteins.

Vitamin K is an essential nutrient for good health, and many people turn to the grocery store for supplements and fortified foods to get their daily dose. However, plenty of natural sources of vitamin K can provide a healthy boost. For example, leafy green vegetables such as kale, collards, spinach, and even mustard greens contain large amounts of vitamin K that can be easily incorporated into a balanced diet. For adults looking to increase their intake of vitamin K through natural sources, Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts, and broccoli are also excellent choices. Natural sources of vitamin K are usually found in dairy products, including cheese and yogurt, so those can be delicious additions to meals."



young woman taking pill
Shutterstock / New Africa

"Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is a nutrient that can help support normal metabolism and cardiovascular health when taken in appropriate doses," says Dr. Mitchell. "Taking niacin supplements can be associated with a range of risks, however. High doses of niacin have been linked to upset stomachs, increased risk of bleeding and kidney damage, and other more severe symptoms such as impaired blood clotting, liver damage, and decreased insulin sensitivity. It would help if you talked to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any niacin supplement to ensure it is safe for you and determine the proper dose for your individual needs. Doing so can help minimize potential side effects and maximize the supplement's effectiveness in promoting healthy living.

Niacin, also known as vitamin B-3, is an essential nutrient with a wide range of benefits for the body. Fortunately, there are many natural sources of niacin available that can help maintain optimal health. Dairy products like milk and yogurt are excellent sources of niacin, while other animal products such as eggs, organ meats, fish, and poultry contain varying amounts. Plant-based foods such as legumes, nuts, whole grains, and leafy green vegetables also supply niacin and make a great addition to any healthy eating plan. So whether you're a meat eater or vegetarian, getting enough niacin through natural sources shouldn't be too tricky!"


Vitamin A

Smiling young lady looking at her vitamins

Dr. Mitchell tells us, "Although vitamin A is an essential nutrient necessary for good health, taking supplements may not be the best way to incorporate it into one's diet. As with any medication, too much of a supplement–in this case, Vitamin A–can have adverse consequences and even be dangerous. Too much Vitamin A can cause liver damage, dry skin, brittle bones, and in some cases, congenital disabilities.

Taking excessive levels of a supplement that your body doesn't need can also be a waste of money since supplements are often more expensive than getting the same nutrients from natural foods such as eggs, carrots, and spinach. So instead of relying on supplements as an easy source of nutrition, pay attention to your dietary needs and make nutritious meals containing the recommended Vitamin A levels from new food sources."

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