Why supplements can be dangerous
Three images representing supplements with a mix of herbal plants

Why supplements can be dangerous

You’ve probably heard from people before that you need to be taking supplements like vitamin D, B12, omega 3, or others. But, the truth is that taking too many supplements can actually lead to some serious consequences for your body. In this article, we’ll go over what these consequences are and when you actually need to take supplements.

How the “got milk” generation caused brittle bones

Back in the 90s, there were campaigns everywhere encouraging people to give their children more milk to “build strong bones.” But now, doctors have the impossible task of treating the consequences of too much calcium for a prolonged period, which has been proven to cause brittle bones and a higher chance of bone fractures later on in life as well as a doubled risk for mortality compared to those who drank less than the US recommended daily intake. 

The name for too much calcium in the body is called hypercalcemia and is associated with weakened bones, kidney problems, and brain, or other general body problems. Calcium is essential for the human body and plays a role in several processes, including building strong bones and teeth as well as helping us move our muscles, but too much can do the opposite.

When too much calcium is present in the body, you can develop osteoporosis which begins to release calcium into your bloodstream from your bones. This is most likely why researchers found that higher intakes of calcium-rich milk have led to osteoporosis in women, as women are already more likely to develop the condition. 

What happens when you have too much vitamin C?

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a vitamin commonly found in citrus fruits and has a reputation for fending off colds and cases of flu. It’s also used to help the body produce collagen (contrary to popular belief, eating oranges will help more with collagen production than collagen powder since humans produce it on their own). 

Because of how versatile the vitamin is, many people megadose vitamin C to reach its max potential. There are a few problems associated with this strategy, though. Too much vitamin C can actually cause intestinal irritation, including diarrhea. In doses over 3000mg, vitamin C is also known for triggering certain medical conditions and making them worse.   

Sometimes, in a controlled medical setting, doctors will provide megadoses of vitamin C to cancer patients through an injection to increase their quality of life. Such situations are clearly exempt from warnings about the overuse of supplements. 

The most dangerous supplements: vitamin B complex

Vitamin B complex is a mix of 8 different vitamin Bs, including B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9. and B12. While each of these plays an essential role in your body’s ability to function normally, too much of it can have pretty severe consequences like a potential increased risk of developing tumors

You can also overdose on vitamin B6, which can lead to your arms and legs feeling numb. Thankfully, after discontinuing the supplement, the feeling will generally return to normal, but you’ll need to see a doctor immediately to make sure the overdose isn’t more severe. In more severe cases, the feeling will never return to your arms or legs. 

Vitamin B3 is another culprit when it comes to dangerous supplements. The vitamin is known for causing skin flushing in the early stages of overconsumption and can eventually lead to liver damage. 

Although we are not medical professionals, we recommend only taking vitamin B complex if your doctor advises you to. If you think you might need vitamin B complex, you can always see your general practitioner and ask them for tests to see if you’re deficient and monitor your levels to ensure you’re getting the correct dose. 

What about omega 3? It’s just oil, right?

Kind of. While too much oil is obviously quite bad for you, omega 3 plays a unique role in building the cells in your body and helping your organs function properly. There are three different types of omega 3. The first two are EPA and DHA and can be found in fish or algae (pure algae like wakame, sea grapes, or supplements). ALA is found in things like nuts. 

People with heart disease are advised to take supplements of up to 1000mg of omega 3 daily to lower their rates of inflammation. Although preliminary studies are still hesitant to say the exact consequences of too much omega 3, it has been shown to reduce the body’s ability to form blood clots and lead to excess bleeding. This can cause stroke in certain people with certain pre-existing conditions. 

Vitamin A toxicity

Vitamin A toxicity is caused by consuming too much vitamin A over a short period. Vitamin A is responsible for your eye health, reproduction, and organ function. It can be found in both the organ meats of animals and plant-based foods, which the body can turn from the carotenoid found in plants into vitamin A

When you’re vitamin A deficient, you’ll stop being able to see in low-light environments, whereas if you have too much vitamin A, you’ll see things like skin irritation (because vitamin A is now in skincare products), changes in mental clarity, blurred vision, among other symptoms. Because vitamin A is fat soluble, it means that you can build up toxicity over time as the vitamin is stored in your fat cells compared to water-soluble vitamins that can be peed out. 

Green tea supplements

If you know someone who is into alternative health treatments, then they might swear by green tea extracts as cures for things like ovarian cancer, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or to prevent heart disease. Needless to say, none of these claims have yet to be proven by medical science, but green tea in standard doses won’t hurt anyone, so it’s worth asking your doctor if it’s alright for you to take it. 

Green tea supplements are effective for some STDs like genital warts, but this type of prescription is generally only available through a pharmacy and with prior approval from your general practitioner. 

Too much green tea can cause you to have too much caffeine, which can make anxiety worse and lead to an irregular heartbeat and headaches. There are also chemicals in green tea that can be harmful to your body in high doses. This can cause glaucoma over a long period of time as green tea increases the pressure inside of your eyes after 30 minutes of drinking for up to 90 minutes. 

It might sound obvious, but you should only be taking medication that is recommended by a health professional. Letting online internet trends dictate what you put into your body isn’t a good idea and should be avoided. 

If you enjoyed this article, you can see more under our healthy living series!