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5 Supplements You Shouldn’t Be Taking, According to a Dietitian

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The market for supplements is worth billions of dollars—$152 billion in 2021, to be exact. There are several products available that all make the promise to assist you improve your health in some way. Don’t get me wrong; some supplements can be beneficial, especially for elements that are difficult to obtain from diet (like iron or vitamin D if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet). However, some are not worth the publicity or the money. I’ll list the five supplements that, as a registered dietitian, I would advise against using.

Five Supplements a Dietitian Suggests You Shouldn’t Be Taking

1. Weight-Loss Medications

Let’s start by making it clear that weight loss may not always follow health improvement and that not all weight loss is beneficial. And one of these is weight-loss supplements. The difficulty of achieving weight loss goals has given rise to a number of “quick fix” solutions, powders, and pills that promise immediate results (usually via murky mechanisms). However, the reality is that they typically don’t work. A 2021 analysis of 315 clinical trials indicated that taking weight-loss supplements did not result in significant or any weight loss among participants. The review was published in the journal Obesity. Additionally, even if a supplement helped you lose weight, the results would only last as long as you continued to take the supplement.

Additionally, since the Food & Drug Administration does not regulate these supplements, it can be challenging to determine exactly what is contained in them. or even if they are secure. They are also frequently expensive, so you could pay a lot of money, swallow something potentially hazardous, and not even see effects from it—hard pass. Instead, concentrate on introducing minor adjustments to your diet, lifestyle, and exercise whenever you can. If you want to reduce weight, this is a far better option, and you’ll probably feel better as a result.

2. Supplements devoid of Certification by a Third Party

On the market, there are approximately 80,000 supplements. So, how can you quickly break through the din? Look for a certification from a third party. There is often no accountability for makers because the FDA does not assess any items before they are placed on the market. Obtaining a third-party certification from an organisation like NSF, USP, Informed Sport, or BSCG is one approach for businesses to demonstrate that the substances in their goods are accurate and safe (check out this scorecard to see what logos to expect). Even if a supplement only contains one component or a vitamin, I advise avoiding it and choosing one that has third-party certification instead.

3. Supplements that conflict with your prescription drugs

Before attempting a new supplement, be sure to check with your medical team if you are currently using any medications. I still well recall the bulky book on food and drug interactions that I had to drag around for class during my dietetics undergraduate studies. The effects of so many nutrients on various drugs are rarely disclosed when you buy a supplement. For instance, Warfarin users must strictly watch their vitamin K consumption since vitamin K might affect blood-thinning medications like Warfarin. In this situation, taking a vitamin K supplement while taking this medication would not be safe. Because of this, it’s crucial to consult a physician before beginning any new regimen, even if it only involves a single vitamin or mineral.

4. Supplements with caffeine

The most widely used substance in the world is probably caffeine, which, when consumed in moderation, has some positive health effects. Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients are abundant in beverages like coffee and tea, which can enhance your energy and nutrition while making it simpler to recognise overindulgence. However, high-dose supplements are simple to take and typically contain two to three times as much caffeine per tablet as an 8-ounce cup of coffee, which is probably more than you would typically drink in a single sitting. Regularly consuming too much caffeine can affect your mental health, exacerbate some physical diseases like diabetes and heart disease, and have a bad impact on your sleep in addition to causing trembling, anxiety, and jitters in the short term. Avoid the jitter-inducing supplements and choose another kind of caffeine if you’re feeling drained while travelling or in a pinch.

5. Supplements in High Doses

Our bodies require a variety of vitamins and minerals to function properly. Nutrients are no exception; however, sometimes having too much of a good thing is not so beneficial for us. There is a concept known as a “tolerable upper limit” for many vitamins and minerals (UL). This is the daily intake cap that won’t likely have any negative consequences. Exceeding these thresholds might result in an excessive concentration of the nutrient in our bodies and have detrimental consequences on our health, especially in the case of heavy metals or fat-soluble vitamins (such A, D, E, and K) (like iron, copper and zinc). There is no systematic method to verify that the dose they are advising is below the UL because supplements aren’t examined before they are put on the market. Supplements at extremely high doses are not only useless, but they may also be harmful.

For this reason, it’s crucial to do some research and have a clear understanding of what you want before purchasing a supplement. The Daily Recommended Intakes are an excellent place to start to determine how much of each nutrient you need, but you should also take into account how often you eat the nutrient in dietary sources (which is usually a better way to meet your needs). In order to assist you achieve your needs, supplements are designed to work in conjunction with your diet. Choose a supplement that can help you fill in the gaps without going overboard and forgo the high-dose ones instead.

Many supplements are beneficial and may help you satisfy your nutritional needs while also enhancing your health. However, some supplements are risky, ineffective, and, to be honest, not worth the money. It might be advisable to avoid these five if you use supplements. The money you save may be used to purchase complete, wholesome meals that are nutrient-dense, risk-free, and delicious.

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