Stop Taking These Supplements - RIGHT NOW

So often in my practice, patients bring in a long list of vitamins and supplements they are taking. When I ask why, most people admit they aren't exactly sure what each one does or why they are even taking it except they "heard somewhere that it was good to take." Supplements can be great... but they can also be not-so-great. In fact, some of the health problems you are experiencing right now can be attributed to your supplement routine. Below I talk about the three supplements that can especially cause health havoc.

1. Multi-Vitamins

Multi-vitamins can be good things to take under certain circumstances (say, if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or recovering from a serious illness). However, most of us don’t actually need a multivitamin because we get what we need from our diet. Plus, most multivitamins contain up to 13,000% of our daily value for particular nutrients. That is an INSANE amount - under very rare circumstances does someone actually need that amount of a vitamin or mineral. 

You may be thinking, what's the harm? Don’t I just pee out what I don’t need? Yes —and no. At best, you may just be having very expensive urine (i.e. the telltale fluorescent-colored urine that you get after taking too much vitamin B). At worst, all of these excess vitamins are damaging your body. In a PREVIOUS POST, I talked about how excess Vitamin B can trigger acne, but that’s just a start.

Excess B6 can cause nerve damage [1] excess Vitamin D can cause bone pain and kidney problems [2], while excess vitamin A can lead to vision changes, skin issues, and liver damage [3] [4].

What’s the upshot? It’s always best to get your vitamins and minerals from food first, then do targeted supplementation when and if it’s truly necessary. 

2. Hair, Skin, Nail formulas

If you have breakouts, put that hair skin and nail formula down right now!! Most of these formulations contain a very high amount of biotin, which is a type of B vitamin. Which sounds safe, but excess B vitamins can disrupt the natural microflora of your skin, making you more prone to breaking out. 

RELATED READING: 5 Secret Acne Triggers

Your body requires very little biotin (less than 30 micrograms per day) and if you’re eating foods like eggs, avocados, and sweet potatoes, you are likely getting plenty of biotin. Also, your body recycles biotin, which means an actual biotin deficiency is extremely rate. Most hair, skin, and nail formulas (as well as multi-vitamins) contain well over 300 times your daily requirement of biotin.

All this excess biotin can lead to a deficiency of vitamin B5, because biotin and B5 compete for the same absorption receptors in your intestines.  Because B5 regulates the barrier function of the skin’s surface, the excess of biotin is leading to your acne flares because it reduces your absorption of B5.  This problem can be compounded if you take both a multivitamin and a hair, skin, and nail formula. 

So unless you are told otherwise by your healthcare provider that you need biotin, skip that hair, skin, and nail formula, especially if you are prone to breakouts. 

3. Diet Aids

These promise to boost metabolism and help you shed excess pounds and often advertise familiar + safe-sounding ingredients (such as green tea or coffee bean) or medical-sounding ingredients (like synephrine or phenolphthalein). 

It is important to remember two things here: 1) no matter how familiar or medical-sounding the ingredient list, weight loss pills are usually stimulants; meaning they make your heart beat faster and work harder -- this is true even if the label claims to be 'stimulant free' and 2) if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. 

You may be wondering why these over the counter diet aids are so dangerous. This is a common thought process, especially if you just need help to lose a few pounds or something to help you stop snacking. But over the counter weight loss pills sent nearly 20,000 people to the emergency room in 2017. Why?

Weight loss products are an unregulated industry - meaning there’s no way to know exactly what’s in the bottle. So you could either be getting ripped off by not getting the ingredient you were promised, even worse, you are consuming a bunch fillers that could literally be anything. The weight loss supplement market (along with the muscle building and sexual performance categories) are notorious for being impure and often don’t contain what you are promised on the label. 

Bottom line - there is no magic bullet for weight loss. Skip the empty promises on these bottles and go for a walk after lunch, or drink a cup of green tea instead.  Your heart (and wallet) will thank you.  

 

[1]  Bacharach R, Lowden M, Ahmed A. Pyridoxine Toxicity Small Fiber Neuropathy With Dysautonomia: A Case Report. J Clin Neuromuscul Dis. 2017 Sep;19(1):43-46. doi: 10.1097/CND.0000000000000172. PubMed PMID: 28827489.

[2] Zeratsky, K. What is vitamin D toxicity, and should I worry about it since I take supplements?https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/vitamin-d-toxicity/faq-20058108

[3] Ross A. Vitamin A and Carotenoids. In: Shils M, Shike M, Ross A, Caballero B, Cousins R, eds. Modern Nutrition in Health and Disease. 10th ed. Baltimore, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2006:351-75.

[4] Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc . Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 2001.

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 It’s time to reexamine your relationship with supplements. Research shows that in many cases, vitamins and other supplements fail to improve performance, but whats worse is that many vitamins can harm your health. 
 So often in my practice, patients bring in a long list of vitamins and supplements they are taking. When I ask why, most people admit they aren't exactly sure what each one does or why they are even taking it except they "heard somewhere that it was good to take." Supplements can be great... but they can also be not-so-great. In fact, some of the health problems you are experiencing right now can be attributed to your supplement routine. Below I talk about the three supplements that can especially cause health havoc.