Informational Articles

The 5 Vitamins And Minerals You Don’t Need To Take

5 Vitamins And Minerals To Skip

MEGHAN RABBITT

Supplement advice comes from everywhere: Your doctor recommends calcium for your bones, your friends swear by iron, your spouse is religious about vitamin E. If your head is spinning when it comes to vitamin pills, here’s a way to simplify: You can probably drop any of the following pills from your regimen, says Lorraine Maita, MD, a physician in Summit, NJ, and diplomate of the American Academy of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine. Here, Maita and other experts share the 5 vitamins and minerals that just aren’t necessary to take in supplement form—and why some of them can even be harmful. (Want to pick up some healthier habits?

1. Calcium
For years, women in particular have received the message that calcium supplements are crucial for healthy, strong bones. That message is flawed, says Maita. “The newest research indicates that calcium supplements may not actually get into the bone as desired, and instead can calcify arteries and soft tissues, increasing your risk of heart disease,” she says. What’s more, calcium supplements can also perpetuate kidney stones in those who are susceptible, says Andrea Cox, RD a dietitian in Portland, OR. You’ll get all the calcium your body needs through non-dairy foods, such as green leafy veggies, salmon, sardines, white beans, almonds, and broccoli, says Maita.

2. Vitamin E

Vitamin E

PHOTOGRAPH BY YAGI STUDIO/GETTY IMAGES

Once thought to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s, cataracts, and cancer, vitamin E may actually increase some cancer risks. One study found an increased risk of cancer in men taking 400 IU daily (the recommended intake is 22 IU). Another study found the overall risk of death is higher in men and women who supplement with high doses of vitamin E than those who don’t. If you’re worried about your daily multi with vitamin E, Cox says you’re okay: “The amount of vitamin E in most multi-vitamins isn’t enough to cause this effect.”

3. Iodine

Iodine

PHOTOGRAPH BY HIDESY/GETTY IMAGES

Although some natural healers recommend supplements, iodine should only be taken under a doctor’s supervision. The mineral is most often associated with the thyroid gland, as it is a key component of the hormones produced there, says Maita. “Too little or too much iodine can cause an underactive thyroid, known as hypothyroidism,” says Maita, so it’s particularly important to make sure you’re not supplementing when you don’t need to. The best way to tell? Ask your doctor to measure your iodine levels in your urine, says Maitra, to determine if your levels are low before you take a supplement. And keep in mind that our food in this country is already supplemented with iodine, says Khara Lucius, ND, a naturopathic oncologist at Cancer Treatment Centers of America, which means iodine deficiency is rare.

4. Iron
This mineral helps form hemoglobin, a component of your blood that delivers oxygen from the lungs throughout the body. Iron is also necessary for normal cellular functioning and the synthesis of some hormones. However, you should only take it as a supplement when you have laboratory confirmation of a deficiency through your doctor, says Lucius. “That’s because iron overload due to excessive supplementation or dietary intake can damage the liver and possibly other organs, such as the pancreas and heart.” Maitra agrees, adding that too much iron can also cause liver inflammation and can oxidize in the body, causing cellular damage.

5. Vitamin B6
The eight B vitamins referred to as “the B complex” are crucial for optimal health, helping our bodies convert our food into fuel and promoting healthy skin, memory, pregnancies, and more. Since the B vitamins are present in many foods—particularly those that are a part of a healthy diet, such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, poultry, and fish—most of us get enough. And research shows that taking B6 supplements over a long period of time can actually cause serious problems. “Even though vitamin B6 is water soluble and safe at the recommended levels, too much can be toxic,” says Maita. “High doses have been shown to cause abnormal sensations in nerves called neuropathy.”

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