Every day brings a new headline or TV news segment asking “Are you getting enough __________?” The blank can be filled in with just about any vitamin, mineral, vegetable, fat … you get the idea. Maybe this explains why thesupplement business is booming. And it shows no signs of slowing down. According to a press release fromFinancial News Media, the global nutritional supplement market is expected to reach $175 billion in 2020.
While adding a pill to your diet here and there might seem harmless, everyone’s body has slightly different needs. Where one person may have difficulty properly absorbing iron due to the particulars of their health, another individual might soak it up like a sponge. In this instance, the latter person might end up consuming way too much of the mineral by mindlessly taking a tablet every morning.
To make matters more confusing, the supplement industry isn’t very well regulated. Just think about all the bottles you see when you walk into a GNC or even the regular grocery store. Obviously no one needs all those pills, but there also isn’t anyone to stop someone from filling a shopping basket to the top.
Before you start any type of supplement regimen, pay a visit to your doctor. If either of you suspect some sort of deficiency, confirming with lab results is better than making assumptions. If you’re already popping pills, be on the lookout for signs you’ve gone overboard. We’ve highlighted six common supplements and why you should be wary of overdosing.
1. Vitamin C
The idea that loading up on vitamin C can prevent or cure a cold has become so mainstream that most people think it’s fact. While the nutrient does play a role in supporting a healthy immune system, going for a huge dose won’t guarantee you never get the sniffles. One 2013 review looked at the research and found the results simply don’t show vitamin C can ward off illness.
Furthermore, it’s not very difficult to get your recommended daily dosage, which Mayo Clinic reported is between 65 and 90 milligrams. One cup of chopped red bell pepper is more than double that amount. The article went on to say going too far with supplements can lead to the usual nausea and diarrhea, but also less expected symptoms like insomnia and kidney stones. Stick with a salad.
Most gym goers are familiar with creatine, which is often touted as a muscle-building miracle. This occurs naturally in our bodies as well as meat, but many lifters look to supplements. Research, including one 2012 review, has linked the protein to improved muscular strength, better endurance, and increased speed.
The trouble here is the overzealous quest to build muscle leads many guys to take unsafe doses. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, supplementing your diet with too much creatine can lead to upset stomach, dizziness, high blood pressure, and maybe even kidney damage. The article said creatine can also interact with certain medications, so talk to your doctor.
3. Fish oil
Research on the benefits of various foods tend to go back and forth, but not when it comes to fish. One 2012 review analyzed seven different studies on the link between fish consumption and , finding those who ate the most seafood had the lowest risk. Results like these encouraged many to try to get the same benefits by downing a daily fish oil supplement.
Unfortunately, results for these pills don’t match up with the real thing. One recent review found fish oil supplements didn’t show any link to a reduced . The bad news doesn’t end there, either.According to Livestrong, too much fish oil can lead to upset stomach and bloating. In severe cases, it can even contribute to bloody urine and stroke.
The message is, once again, to reach for real food. While some worry about exposure to too much mercury from fish, you’d be hard-pressed to find any doctor telling you to eat less seafood.
Some people like to take slightly more obscure supplements because they’re labeled as all natural. Aconite for example, is a popular choice for those hoping to reduce inflammation and boost their ability to heal wounds. Because something is natural doesn’t mean it’s safe, though. Lead is a natural substance, and you wouldn’t consider adding that toxic metal to your diet.
So what’s the deal with aconite? According to Consumer Reports, the supplement can lead to nausea, vomiting, irregular heart rhythm, and death. The story went on to say aconite is actually the number one cause of herbal poisoning in Hong Kong. It’s best to avoid this one entirely.
5. Vitamin E
Antioxidants like vitamin E get a lot of love from the health-conscious crowd for their ability to fight cancer. In a case of horrifying, but true, one study looking at how selenium and vitamin E supplementation affected the risk of prostate cancer was cut short due to negative results. The most recently published version concluded vitamin E supplements may increase the risk of developing the disease.
Even less extreme results are unpleasant. Everyday Health said too much vitamin E can lead to fatigue, blurred vision, nausea, and rash. Most people get plenty from food, so don’t reach for more in hopes of eliminating the chances of avoiding diseases.
This one might sound unfamiliar at first, until you read the ingredient list on a package of Metamucil. According to Healthline, this supplement is 70% and made from the seed husks of a type of plant. Psyllium can be quite beneficial for those who deal with occasional constipation or other gastrointestinal conditions, as long as the dose is reasonable.
Some people reach for these types of fiber supplements as a way to lose weight, which is where things can go wrong. Berkeley Wellness said it’ll only help you shed pounds if you manage to decrease your caloric intake. The article said it’s generally better to boost your fiber consumption from produce and whole grains.
As for overdose, you probably don’t need to think all that hard to realize the most common side effect. In addition to uncomfortably frequent bathroom trips, SFGate said going overboard of psyllium can lead to a stool blockage, disrupt your electrolyte balance, and damage kidneys. Kale sounds like a better bet.