Nutrition is crucial for healthy aging, but supplements are not as effective as food when it comes to getting the right amounts of vitamins and minerals—and some can actually be dangerous. “My motto is always ‘food first,’” says Rachel Berman, RDDirector of Nutrition for Calorie Count. “Foods found in nature are always more nutritious because our bodies are used to process vitamins and minerals that come from natural sources.” Here are five supplements you should never take after 50. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don’t miss these Sure Signs You’ve Already Had COVID.
A study from UC Davis showed that too much folic acid can aggravate complications related to vitamin B-12 deficiency, which could result in dangerous health conditions such as anemia and neurological damage. “There have been concerns that some people may be getting too much folic acid through a combination of sources, and we wanted to determine if there were reasons for those concerns,” says Ralph Green, UC Davis professor of pathology and laboratory medicine. “Our results show that higher levels of folic acid could set in motion a metabolic imbalance that leads to more serious B-12 deficiency… We do have to worry about folic-acid supplementation. The fact is that a lot of people are getting more of it is good for them. If they happen to be B-12 deficient, more folic acid may actually harm them.”
Hormone therapy such as HGH (human growth hormone) can be dangerous, experts warn. “In this entire field, I’ve only encountered one board-certified endocrinologist,” says Thomas Perls, MDassociate professor of medicine and geriatrics at Boston University School of Medicine. “It’s outrageous that people think they can prescribe these toxic hormone soups… There is no scientific proof of this. And studies show that increasing HGH levels with drugs predisposes people to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.”
Anti-aging supplements have not been proven to work, experts warn, and most are not regulated by the FDA. “Many anti-aging doctors sell their own lines of nutraceuticals at very high prices,” says Dr Perls. “It’s a profit margin that’s better than what cocaine dealers get.”
“We don’t know if they could help, but they could be harmful,” says Winifred K. Rossi, deputy director of the Division of Geriatrics and Gerontology at the National Institute on Aging.
Vitamin E is a common ingredient in brain health supplements, but too much can be dangerous.
“High doses of vitamin E supplements are associated with an increased risk of death,” says dietitian Maxine Smith, RDN, LDwho recommends getting vitamin E from foods such as nuts, seeds, and dark green leafy vegetables.
Over-the-counter sexual enhancement products should be avoided, experts warn. “Products promising to enhance sexual performance have been promoted for over a century, dating back to the patent medicines of the 1800s; these products were characterized by wildly exaggerated claims and sold to the public by unscrupulous manufacturers, without evidence of safety or effectiveness,” says W. Steven Pray, PhD, DPh. “Some manufacturers of impotence cures claim that their product is ‘scientifically proven’ to work. When a consumer sees the phrase ‘clinical studies prove it works,’ caution is in order, as these claims are often false. Furthermore, claims providing very high rates of success are often bogus.” 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.
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more