Unfortunately, being healthy isn’t as easy as popping a pill. You can’t live off of Twinkies, take a handful of vitamins, and assume you’re good to go. In fact, if you’re paying attention to your diet and generally eating well, taking vitamins can overdose your system. Start by spending your money on naturally vitamin-rich unprocessed foods and avoid the following vitamins, which can be bad for you when taken in excess.
1. Vitamin D
Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to heart disease, osteoporosis, weight gain, mood disorders, metabolic disorders, and multiple sclerosis. To counteract this, you might think it would make sense to take vitamin D supplements. But in trial after trial, supplemental vitamin D had no beneficial effect on people’s health. Research has found that low vitamin D was the result of poor health, not the cause.
Rather than spending your money on this necessary vitamin, get outside. Just 10 minutes of sunlight gives you more than your daily recommended dose of vitamin D.
As long as you make a point to eat well, a multivitamin may be nothing more than a giant waste of money. The all-in-one vitamin boasts everything you need to be healthy, but the one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work when it comes to your health.
Even if you’re deficient in certain areas, a multivitamin often contains 100% or more of the recommended daily value of vitamins C and A, plus iron and calcium. Overwhelming your body with things you don’t need does more harm than good.
3. Vitamin E
Long hailed as a vitamin full of antioxidants, you would think that taking a regular vitamin E supplement would be harmless and may even help fight off cancer and disease. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Exceeding the recommended dosage of vitamin E is dangerous and can result in side effects like nausea, fatigue, and blurred vision.
Stick to dark leafy greens, nuts and seeds, and vegetable oil to get a healthy dose of the vitamin.
4. Vitamin A
This important vitamin can be found in bright yellow and orange fruits and vegetables and leafy greens. Turn to carrots, butternut squash, kale, and sweet potatoes. If you’ve been slacking on your veggie consumption, you may turn to vitamin A or beta-carotene supplements. In two separate studies, this vitamin supplement was found to increase the likelihood of developing lung cancer in smokers. In one of the studies, the supplement increased the risk of lung cancer by as much as 28%.
5. Vitamin C
Arguably the most popular vitamin supplement, you may take vitamin C to keep a cold at bay or to keep your immune system strong when people at the office start calling in sick. The vitamin, which is naturally plentiful in fruits and veggies, is important to your daily life. That doesn’t mean, however, that a pill that gives you a megadose of 2,000 milligrams or more is good for you. When you take large doses of the vitamin, you may increase your risk of developing kidney stones.
6. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is vital for keeping your energy levels high, fighting disease, and keeping your brain healthy. But you shouldn’t be taking any more than 100 milligrams a day, as it can lead to nerve damage if you consume it in high doses. You can also develop painful skin lesions, nausea, heartburn, and an increased sensitivity to the sun.
Instead of supplementing B6, try eating more chickpeas, seafood, or beef.
7. Folic acid
When taken in doses less than a milligram a day, folic acid is safe in most adults. But when taken in large doses over a long period of time, folic acid can cause all sorts of problems. Side effects range from abdominal cramps and diarrhea to confusion, behavioral changes, and even seizures. You are better off eating a lot of avocados, tomatoes, and broccoli than you are taking too much of this vitamin.
8. Vitamin B3
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, it is “incredibly rare” for someone to have a vitamin B3 deficiency. Taking an extra amount of B3, also called niacin, in pill form can also have a ton of side effects because it reacts with many other medications.
Liver damage and stomach ulcers can results from taking too much B3. Additionally, anyone with a diabetes, gallbladder disease, or low blood pressure should not take B3. This most common side effect is called the “niacin flush” in which case your face and chest become red and tingly.