While dietary supplements can be truly beneficial when consumed appropriately, they can sometimes prove dangerous to your health. Dr. Kierzek gives you an update on the 3 worst food supplements.
Although taking food supplements is often considered a healthy method to supplement your nutrient intake, it is important to learn about the risks that some may cause. According to Dr. Kierzek, caution is required when consuming the following dietary supplements: ephedra, beta-carotene and kava. Our medical director explains.
This is a vasoconstrictor, derived from ephedrine, which tightens blood vessels. According to Dr. Kierzek: “used for its stimulating effects or to lose weight, the risk of ephedra is vasoconstriction, as well as cardiac and neurological consequences. These can lead to heart attacks or strokes“. The expert adds: “In the case of use for weight loss, the effects are temporary while the risks are very significant.“.
Since 2003, the sale of ephedra has been banned in Europe, whatever its form, due to the serious consequences that have been observed on certain people.
A precursor to vitamin A, beta-carotene is an essential nutrient for staying healthy by strengthening the immune system. However, Dr. Kierzek warns: “high doses of beta-carotene supplement are associated with increased risk of lung cancer, especially in smokers“. If you are a big consumer of carrots, don’t panic! The expert specifies: “These risks do not apply to foods such as fruits and vegetables, which are naturally rich in beta-carotene. In fact, only beta-carotene food supplements are dangerous.“. Therefore, if you wish to take a course of beta-carotene, it is recommended to discuss it with your doctor and to take into account the benefits and risks of this use.
A plant used for its anxiolytic and relaxing properties, the consumption of kava can cause risks to the liver. According to Dr. Kierzek: “the consequences can range from simple nausea to the development of hepatitis. In the case of fulminant hepatitis, care must be taken as it can be fatal.“.
According to the doctor: “The risks depend mainly on the dose ingested and a person’s medical history. Thus, recurrent use in a person likely to have liver problems will represent a greater risk than in someone who consumes it occasionally.“.
Be careful, kava is also found in certain foods, it also presents a risk in this form. This is for example the case for certain herbal teas. Note that kava has been banned in Europe since 2002.