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Our bodies need vitamins and minerals to thrive—but that doesn't mean taking over-the-counter supplements are always safe. Some vitamins can interfere with prescription medication, making them potentially dangerous. "If you're taking multiple medications, your doctor will want to be on the lookout for possible drug interactions," says family medicine specialist Matthew Goldman, MD. "Before writing you a new prescription, your provider will take a look at your chart to see what else you already take — but just as prescription medications can interact with one another, so too can they interact with over-the-counter painkillers and allergy medications, herbal supplements and even your daily vitamins." Here are five surprising side effects of taking vitamins every day. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.
Research shows taking calcium supplements may do more harm than good. "More and more studies are showing increased risks for heart attack and stroke among men and women taking calcium 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams (mg) per day which was previously recommended," says functional medicine specialist Melissa Young, MD. "We recommend obtaining the majority of your calcium needs from food. The body absorbs and utilizes calcium better from food than from supplements."
Be Careful With Blood Thinners
"Garlic, ginger or ginkgo extracts could potentially interact with blood thinners and increase the risk of bleeding," says internal medicine specialist Ronan Factora, MD. "And St. John's Wort is commonly taken for depression, but it can interact with other antidepressants being taken at the same time. Speaking with your doctor can help determine potential interactions. Often, asking the pharmacist about any specific concerns you have about a new supplement is worthwhile, too. It's always better to be safe than sorry."
Vitamin E and Heart Health
Vitamin E can increase the risk of heart failure and stroke for some people, doctors warn.
"Patients who are under medical care for heart-related health issues are strongly discouraged from using vitamin E," says cardiologist Leslie Cho, MD. "Don't take chances with your heart, and make sure to run anything by your doctor that you plan to put into your body."
B Vitamins and Kidney Health
High doses of B vitamins could harm people with diabetic nephropathy (kidney disease caused by diabetes) according to research published in JAMA. "Given the recent large-scale clinical trials showing no treatment benefit, and our trial demonstrating harm, it would be prudent to discourage the use of high-dose B vitamins as a homocysteine-lowering strategy outside the framework of properly conducted clinical research," the paper concludes.
Vitamins Can't Protect Against COVID-19
"A lot of people have this misconception that if you load up on zinc, vitamin D or vitamin C, it can help the clinical outcome of COVID-19," says Dr. Azizullah Beran, an internal medicine resident at The University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences. "That hasn't been shown to be true. What we're saying is this: If you don't medically need these supplements, don't take them thinking they're protective against COVID-19. They're not going to prevent you from getting it and they're not going to prevent you from dying."
How to Stay Safe Out There
Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.