When we take a multivitamin in the morning we tend to believe we are helping our body. In most cases, vitamins and supplements greatly improve our health, nutrition, energy level, immune response, and general well being. However, using supplements requires diligence. Having too little or too much of a substance in our bodies can cause serious health risks. Here are five potential problems to be aware of when using supplements.
Many physicians and dietary experts tout the benefits of supplementation to offset the vitamin and mineral deficiencies caused by the way food is packaged, processed, or preserved. However, many individuals believe that megadosing supplements is the best way to stay healthy and build muscle. Realistically, the body needs only moderate amounts of vitamins and minerals for optimum performance. But controversy exists because many vitamins and minerals can and should be taken in doses higher than the Recommended Daily Intake. For example, studies have found that megadosing Vitamin C can have many benefits. Other vitamins, such as Vitamin A and Vitamin D, should never be megadosed.
It’s important to realize the difference between water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins:
• Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
• Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
• Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
• Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)
• Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
• Vitamin B7 (Biotine)
• Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid)
• Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin)
• Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)
• Vitamin A
• Vitamin D
• Vitamin E
• Vitamin K
When some water-soluble vitamins are megadosed, you literally end up peeing your money away. On the other hand, when fat-soluble vitamins are megadosed, these substances can build up in the body and may potentially reach toxic levels. Therefore, it is always best to consult a doctor or dietitian before starting any supplementation program. However, common multivitamins that provide an average of 100 to 300 percent of the recommended daily average for various vitamins and minerals are typically ideal.
4. Liver Damage
Nearly all vitamins, both water and fat-soluble, can cause liver damage if they are taken in excessive amounts. This is because vitamins need to be processed by the body just like anything else we eat. When we eat too much of something, it takes a toll on our digestive system and the macronutrients in that food can be harmful to our liver and kidneys. This risk can easily be increased if you don’t drink enough water. This is why balance is so important for any type of supplementation. The best method is to always follow the labeling directions, and don’t begin any regimen without consulting a doctor.
3. Skipping Meals
In this day and age many people will try to lose weight by whatever means necessary. Most of these “do-it-yourself diets” are unfounded and harmful. Cutting back on calories is a great way to lose weight, but you cannot substitute vitamins and pills for balanced meals. Not only does this pose the risk of overdosing, but it also robs the body of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates, three macronutrients critical to a healthy body. They simply don’t exist in vitamin and mineral supplements alone. There are plenty of meal-replacement bars and shakes that deliver vitamins as well as proteins, carbs, and fats to offer a calorie-controlled meal that can be used to replace one to three meals each day.
2. Heart Damage
Many fat-burners and weight-loss supplements are much more potent than in years past. Some of these can be dangerous. Caffeine and various herbs such as ginseng are excellent thermogenics. This means that they speed up metabolism and increase body heat so that fat is burned at a faster rate. But some of these supplements are overloaded with ridiculous amounts of caffeine and herbs that pose a risk to the heart. This risk is compounded for anyone who megadoses these supplements or anyone who has a sensitivity to stimulants or an existing heart condition. Luckily, there are some great ways to circumvent these ill effects. For one, if you are hesitant about a supplement but insist on trying it, start with half-doses. This will give you an idea of how the substance will work for you. Secondly, there are many stimulant-free fat burners that offer some excellent results in conjunction with diet and exercise. Taking conjugated linoleic acid, L-carnitine, and alpha-lipoic acid is an excellent and stimulant-free way to burn fat.
1. Questionable or Dangerous Supplements
Supplements are an excellent way to stay in shape, lose weight, and gain muscle. The unfortunate result is that many unscrupulous individuals have also discovered this truth and promote questionable products to make money. With the current demand for supplements skyrocketing and the technology available to manufacture supplements in abundance, supplementation has entered what I like to call “The Placebo Age.” Similar to the snake-oil salesmen of the Wild West, some companies make fictitious claims about their products in order to deceive consumers. This is possible because the FDA does not regulate some formulas. However, there are plenty of companies that have been in business for many years and have an established name as well as quality products. When trying any new supplement, it is always important to research the ingredients, check out the company, and read the reviews.