Dietary supplements. They’re rarely ever FDA approved and some aren’t even tested before being placed on the market. If that doesn’t scare you enough to stop taking supplements forever, then perhaps the following list should be taken into account whenever you’re out looking to purchase your next order of vitamins and supplements. Keep in mind, with the best and most consistent average diet, you will always receive the nutrition you’ll need from (gasp) the food you eat! Supplements are useless so long as you don’t have any dietary restrictions, and are eating well. But because we know you may still want supplements anyway, here’s a list of supplements that have been known to be harmful to women’s health.
Did you know that too much of a good thing can be bad? Surely you’ve heard the expression. Vitamin D supplements can harm your kidneys if it turns out you didn’t need to take it, or that you’ve taken too much. Yes, if you’re healthy and getting plenty of vitamin D, your vitamin D blood levels can peak and trigger what is known as “calcium absorption” which will lead to developing kidney stones.
Also, while vitamin D is great for calcium, studies have shown that it doesn’t help strengthen your bones. If you’re looking to include more vitamin D into your diet and you want to do it naturally and without the risk of untested supplements, try salmon, tuna, milk, and even mushrooms!
St. John’s Wort
This plant, surprisingly to some, has some health issues when interacting with certain prescribed medicines. It’s dangerous to combine St. John’s Wort with antidepressants, or statins. Also, side note, it can weaken your birth control pill’s effectiveness.
St. John’s Wort has been studied by small focus groups, and they’ve shown slight improvement in mood but more than likely, it’s completely psychological.
Remember above when we were talking about calcium and vitamin D? Well, some people don’t take just vitamin D for their calcium, but also try to include calcium supplements directly. Too much calcium can have deadly results! This isn’t hyperbole. Excess calcium settles in one’s arteries and clogged arteries can lead to all sorts of trouble, such as a heart attack.
Again, find your calcium the natural way. You certainly need it! Adult women especially are recommended 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day. Don’t be intimidated by that number though, with a healthy diet you’ll reach that number easily.
Multivitamins seem like a good idea. Instead of taking several supplements at once, you take just one. In 2011, the Archives of Internal Medicine did a study using data from 40,000 adult women. They discovered that women who regularly used supplements actually had an increased risk of death. The bottom line is that supplements like your multivitamin do not have any evidence supporting their claims of preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease or yes, death. The theory is that the reason those 40,000 women came to show themselves unhealthy after having relied on supplements isn’t because supplements are killing you per se, but I think we sometimes rely on them to take place of our most necessary nutrients. It eases the mind: “Oh, I took a multivitamin, so I think I’ll be okay if I don’t eat a well-rounded diet.” It’s simply not true.
Fish Oil Supplements
While some studies show that Omega-3 might not even be necessary to brain and heart health, people still want to include it in their diets. And that’s great, because there’s enough studies that show it’s a worthwhile fatty acid. However, fish oil supplements may not be the way to go. In fact, a 2013 study showed that between 6,000 people, there weren’t any differences between the people who took the fish supplement and the people who took the placebo.
If you want to find your omega-3, the best thing to do, once again, is to get it through your food. Try flaxseed, fish, walnuts and avocados. They all taste better than downing some nasty pill anyway.
This herbal root has been in the news on a more subtle level. It’s primarily used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. At this point in the list we shouldn’t be surprised that this stuff isn’t working. If you’re having trouble with anxiety or sleeping, it cannot be stressed enough that you are best to handle the situation with your general practitioner. If you’re hesitant to take prescribed medication or you have tried it in the past and you found it wasn’t for you, then talk to your doctor about alternate solutions. Neither of these conditions are light enough to take on by yourself, or worse, put into the hands of something so untested like Kava-Kava.
Soy is great in relieving symptoms of menopause, but it’s also a great source of protein, fiber and a plethora of minerals our body craves. The snake oil merchants that is the supplement industry has managed to put this wonderful stuff in a concentrated pill form, and well, are you surprised this would end up on the list? Soy includes a bit of estrogen and when you’re taking too much (thanks to an unhealthy dose in the form of a supplement) you’re receiving too much estrogen, which can lead to possible breast cancer. So stick to the soymilk and just have a glass or two a day.
Leave the supplements behind. Get some natural healthy foods and eat well. Sometimes we’re just better off with the good stuff.