15 Supplements Nutritionists Don’t Take—So You Shouldn’t Either

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Iron

Did you decide, on your own, to start taking iron supplements? That could be dangerous. “Iron is sometimes prescribed based on certain medical conditions, but use caution—it can have unpleasant side effects, including stomach upset and constipation,” says Hultin. Too much iron could even lead to a condition called hemochromatosis, which can cause an irregular heartbeat, cirrhosis of the liver, and even cancer. Hultin prefers to use an individualized approach based on lab data to help determine which supplements her patients actually need. “This is another one to take only if you need to, and in the doses recommended by your doctor,” she says. Instead, she suggests ensuring that you get the mineral from food, such as fortified breakfast cereal, oysters, beans, dark chocolate, tofu, lentils, spinach, meats like beef and chicken, and these other sources of iron.

(Related: 12 Foods That Are Higher in Iron Than Spinach)

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Red yeast rice

If you’re trying to lower your cholesterol, you may have turned to red yeast rice. “While there is some evidence for treating high cholesterol levels with red yeast rice, it has side effects that should be monitored carefully by a physician,” says Hultin. “And because this is a supplement that acts in many ways like a medication, it would be very unsafe to take it at the same time as a cholesterol-lowering medication.” According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, some red yeast rice products contain a contaminant called citrinin, which can cause kidney failure. It’s also unsafe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding. Try these foods that can help lower cholesterol.

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Vitamin A

Even though vitamin A is important for immune health and vision, most Americans are not deficient in it and should not be supplementing with it, says Arielle Levitan, MD, co-founder of Vous Vitamin, and co-author of The Vitamin Solution: Two Doctors Clear the Confusion About Vitamins and Your Health. “It is readily available in many food sources, including fruits and vegetables, and many foods are fortified with it,” she says. “It is a fat-soluble vitamin, so even if you don’t take in too much, what you do consume stays in your fat cells for a long time.”

(Here are warning signs your vitamins aren’t going to work anyway.)

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