3 Supplements That Are Actually Hurting Your Health

Not all vitamins are made equally…

Most of us wake up in the morning and pop vitamins without giving it a second thought.

Given our fast-paced lifestyles, we don’t always have time to eat virtuously, so supplements can provide an easy solution to fill in the nutritional gaps. But, unbeknownst to most people, over-using certain vitamins can actually harm, rather than help your health. And the worst offenders are likely to be in your vitamin cabinet right now…

1. Vitamin D 

Vitamin D is used by the body to regulate calcium and phosphorus and help to maintain proper bone structure. It is found in fatty fish like herring, sardines, and tuna, and is also added to many dairy products but most of the vitamin D the body gets – between 80 and 90 per cent – is obtained through sunlight exposure.

Vitamin D supplements are used by over half of all adults in America, often to tackle osteoporosis, as well as vitamin D deficiencies. But a 2013 study from The Lancet concluded supplemental vitamin D doesn’t actually help and is an inappropriate way to treat bone density ailments. Another study from the same year looked at over 450 studies and found taking supplemental vitamin D has no effect on a wide range of diseases and conditions. So basically, if you haven’t been told to by your doctor, taking this supplement is completely pointless. And if you take too much Vitamin D, it can increase the risk of kidney stones and lead to liver and vascular problems.

While vitamin D is one of the more common deficiencies people suffer from, it is really easy to get high doses of it in other ways. Just 10 minutes in the sun gives you four times the recommended daily dose of vitamin D, and doesn’t cost a thing, unlike pricey supplements that might not even work.

2. Folate 

Folate, the generic term for food folate and folic acid, is important for cell function. It occurs naturally in some foods, is added to others and is also used as a dietary supplement.

Because it is in many different foods, we already consume more folate than most of us are aware of. Folic acid, which is name when in supplement form, can affect the levels of B12 in the body, which is required to create red blood cells and regulate neurological function. Columbia University Associate Director of the Institute of Human Nutrition, Sharon Akabas, warns that messing with our B12 levels is dangerous later in life. “Folic acid in the food supply can mask a B12 deficiency in the elderly. As we age, we have less ability to absorb B12 — a significant issue for people over 70.”

Having a B12 deficiency can lead to anemia, which is a shortage of red blood cells.  So while folate is an important B vitamin to have, too much can negatively affect the levels of other crucial nutrients. Folate is in so many different foods, like beef, spinach, asparagus and brussels sprouts, and the FDA requires it to be added to most cereal and grain products, so taking it as a supplement isn’t really necessary.

3. Vitamin K 

Vitamin K helps the blood clot, which prevents excessive bleeding. There are two main kinds of vitamin K; K1, which is found in leafy greens and vegetables, and K2, which can be found in meat, cheese, and eggs. Having low levels of vitamin K can raise the risk of uncontrollable bleeding, and deficiencies are very common in newborns and people with medical issues like Crohn’s disease and celiac disease.

If you take blood thinners to prevent heart attack or a stroke, having too much vitamin K can be a massive problem. Scientific Consultant to NIH’s Office of Dietary Supplements, Paul Thomas, warns against having too much (or too little) of the vitamin. “People taking blood thinners need to maintain a constant intake of vitamin K. If you suddenly have too little, it can cause bleeding, or it can cause clotting if you take too much.”

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Comment: What supplements do you take?