Everyone seems to be vitamin crazy in the 21st century. The problem is that they might not all be as beneficial for you as you may think. Now before you freak out, just remember that you can get healthy, recommended doses of most vitamins and minerals through actual food that is healthy for you—remember food?—and these won’t hurt you. Keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the most popular vitamins and supplements that you shouldn’t be taking.

1. Calcium

Despite the fact that we’re told to have high volumes of calcium in our diet, calcium supplements can actually be dangerous, particularly for people over 50. This is because older bodies can have more difficulty absorbing the mineral, which can lead to it being absorbed by the walls of arteries, as opposed to the bones. This can result in a hardening of the arteries, which in turn can lead to strokes and heart disease.

If you need to be taking calcium supplements, stay clear of calcium carbonate, which is particularly difficult for your bones to absorb. Instead, take calcium citrate, along with magnesium, which will aid with absorption. Alternatively: Got milk? No, really, if you have some then you should drink it.

2. Prenatal Vitamins…When You’re Not Pregnant

You may wonder why any woman would take prenatal vitamins when they’re not pregnant or preparing for pregnancy. The answer is simple—shinier hair, clear skin and stronger nails. Sure, this all sounds positive, but there is a danger in taking supplements that aren’t meant for you. For example, prenatal vitamins contain more iron than a non-pregnant woman needs, and having an excess of that in your body can lead to constipation, vomiting and nausea. Basically, you’ll get all of the terrible parts of pregnancy without the glow and gifts. Who would want that? Similarly, the excess folic acid contained in the vitamins can leave you with a rapid heart rate, tingling in your toes, and memory loss. In short, leave these bad boys for the actual pregnant ladies.

3. Creatine

If you’re a gym junkie you may have heard of this supplement. Generally, it’s used post-workout in order to build and repair muscle. However, research has shown that excessive use can result in dehydration as well as kidney damage. In addition, it can worsen the symptoms of people who suffer with asthma. President of Cenegenics Carolinas, Dr. Mickey Barber, recommends that you should only take it under medical supervision.

4. Vitamin C

For the most part, vitamin C tablets are harmless. However, 2000mg or more can increase your risk of kidney stones—and nobody wants tiny rocks stabbing them from the inside. The main issue with vitamin C supplements is that they’re unnecessary. Studies have shown that their prevention of the common cold is a mere myth.

Furthermore, unless you’re eating like a sailor from 1750, you’re unlikely to need them to ward off scurvy. Just eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and you’ll be fine.

5. Soy Isolate

Not the same as Soylent Green. That would be bad.

Soy isolate can be found in some brands of protein bars and shakes, but there can be a downside for you men folk. Unfortunately, it can have an estrogen effect, which becomes stronger in older men whose bodies are already having trouble balancing their estrogen and testosterone levels. If you still aren’t clear on the visual, it means that it can result in breast formation, or gynecomastia, in men.

If you gents want to get the full benefits of soy without the cleavage, I recommend pure edamame and tofu.

6. Yohimbe

If you haven’t heard of yohimbe before, that could very well be because you don’t suffer from erectile dysfunction. Congratulations, you can skip this one! Bark from the yohimbe tree contains yohimbine, which is a substance that can appear in supplements that are used to treat the above. The problem is that it can also result in serious heart arrhythmia problems, as well as high blood pressure. As an alternative, try increasing your exercise and general health, and if you feel like you still need a supplement, try DHEA.

7. Multivitamins

Basically these are money wasters that result in little more than expensive urine. Oh, except for the part where they’re potentially harmful. A 25-year study of 38,772 women has shown that the risk of death is actually increased for those who had engaged in long-term use of multivitamins, vitamin B6, folic acid, iron, magnesium, zinc, and copper. Seriously, just eat some vegetables!

When it comes down to healthy eating and balanced diets, we need to make sure we get our fair share of vitamins. Vitamins Cheat Sheet: What They Do and Good Food Sources [Infographic]

Featured photo credit: bradley j via photopin cc

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