Seven supplements you don’t need to take
Over dosing on vitamins can do more harm than good .
You probably already know you’re popping one too many. Frankly, if you’re eating a reasonably varied healthy diet, aren’t trying lose weight and don’t skip meals you probably don’t need to take a rainbow array of vitamins and supplements every morning. Talk to any doctor or nutritionist and they’ll tell you that taking a bunch of pills isn’t going to boost your energy levels, help you lose weight, ward off disease or make your fitter unless you eat a very poor, irregular diet. Living the super stressed lives we do, many men pop supplements as a sort of ‘insurance policy’ because they skip meals or make poor food choices. Remember, supplements can never make up for a faulty diet, and no multivitamin can ever give you the carbs, protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals you need to stay healthy and active. Check out the seven vitamins that you not only don’t need but can actually harm your health.
Beta-Carotene and Vitamin A .
Especially dangerous if you’re a smoker! Beta carotene is found in yellow and orange colored fruits and veggies including pumpkin, sweet potato, peaches and papaya. The body converts it to Vitamin A, a fat soluble vitamin that boosts eye, immune and skin health. In the 1960s-70s it was believed that large amounts of this could substantially lower the risk of cancer but subsequent trials have proved that these perceived benefits are not real. In fact, higher doses increase your risk of lung cancer if you’re a smoker. Since it’s a fat soluble vitamin, the body stores excess amounts causing toxicity, a report by Harvard Medical School suggests.
In a study done several decades ago, it was believed that high levels of this trace mineral—also found in breads, grains, meat, poultry, and fish—could protect against chronic disease such as cancer, particularly skin cancer. However subsequent studies indicate that selenium actually increased the recurrence of skin cancer, according to a study at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. If you are taking selenium supplements to prevent prostate cancer, this would be a good time to stop. A recent analysis revealed that it actually increased prostate cancer risk in some men.
Vitamin E .
Another fat soluble vitamin, it’s found in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. For long, studies indicated that Vitamin E supplements lowered your risk of heart disease and cancer. However, subsequent studies have failed to show any real benefits. As a Columbia University Medical Center report says, “It looked good and worked in a test tube, but it had absolutely no impact when tested on humans.” Further, a Physician’s Health Study report found it had no beneficial effects on preventing prostate cancer. That begs the question: If it doesn’t help, why take it?
Horny Goat Weed.
A popular aphrodisiac, and supplement to help erectile dysfunction (ED), Horny Goat Weed could contain lethal amounts of arsenic. The weed gets its name after a shepherd noted increased sexual behavior in goats that ate it, and studies showed that it’s thought to increase blood flow to the penis. However, its effects haven’t been studied in humans, and it’s important to note that supplements such as this are not FDA-regulated. Thus, you have no idea about the concentration of the supplement and what fillers are used. Potential side effects include allergic reactions to unidentified ingredients and contamination with dangerous substances such as lead and arsenic. If you suffer from ED, consult a physician. The cause could be a complication of heart disease or diabetes that needs to be treated urgently.
A popular addition to supplements and health drinks, DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a steroid hormone that the body makes and converts into sex hormones. Levels start declining after age 30 and many men take DHEA supplements to boost libido and testosterone. However, there are no studies to support the libido-boosting effect of DHEA, and in fact, taking it regularly can lower your levels of heart protecting good cholesterol (HDL). Besides, with steroidal supplements like DHEA, there are quality-control issues in terms of how much of the active ingredient is added. Over dose risks include palpitations, increase levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) and a suppression of your own body’s ability to produce DHEA.”
Occurring in plentiful amounts in a variety of citrus fruit, tomatoes, chilies and guavas, Vitamin C was a lifesaver in the times when countless sailors out at sea died of scurvy. In later years, Nobel Laureate Linus Pauling propagated that mega doses of Vitamin C was the best remedy to boost immunity and prevents colds. Although he was a brilliant chemist, Linus was wrong! A review in 2005 of 50 studies worldwide has shown that Vitamin C doesn’t prevent or cure colds. Though it’s generally safe because it’s a water soluble vitamin that gets excreted from the body, mega doses of 2000 mg or more can cause painful kidney stones.
Protein supplements .
As someone who frequent the gym and glugs them by the gallon, you’ll know how expensive these are. You’ve been told that all that protein will go directly into your muscles. If that be the case, why go to the gym at all? Why not just down liters of protein supplements? What actually happens is this: much of this protein is converted to carbohydrates and fats. In fact too much extra protein can burden your kidneys, cause dehydration and leach calcium from your bones. Lifting weights? Unless you’re on a restricted calorie diet, you can get your additional protein requirement from your regular diet. This is true for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians.
At the end of the day, eating right, including all the food groups and eating at regular intervals is all you need to stay healthy, unless your physician prescribes a supplement for a specific deficiency.