5 "Natural" Health Supplements That Aren't Worth Taking, Says a Doctor

Kelsey Clark
PHOTO:

Jenna Peffley for MyDomaine

Generally speaking, health supplements are viewed as relatively innocuous add-ons—the effects, if you even notice them, are minor. For this reason, many people don't even check with their healthcare practitioner before popping them with breakfast. But, as a new investigation from Consumer Reports found, many of the ingredients found in "natural" health supplements are anything but.

CR worked with a panel of independent doctors and dietary supplement experts to identify harmful ingredients, some of which carry the risk of cancer, organ damage, and cardiac arrest. "Our experts agree that none of these supplement ingredients provide sufficient health benefits to justify the risk," reads the report. "Even so, we found all ingredients in products available online or in major stores such as GNC, Costco, CVS, Walmart, and Whole Foods." Here are the supplement ingredients to watch out for:

Caffeine Powder

Claimed benefits: Improves attention, enhances athletic performance, weight loss

Risks: Seizures, heart arrhythmia, cardiac arrest, possibly death; particularly dangerous when combined with other stimulants

Green Tea Extract

Claimed benefits: Weight loss

Risks: Dizziness, ringing in the ears, reduced absorption of iron, exacerbates anemia and glaucoma, elevates blood pressure and heart rate, liver damage, possibly death

 

Kava

Claimed benefits: Reduces anxiety, improves insomnia

Risks: Liver damage, exacerbates Parkinson's and depression, impairs driving, possibly death

Red Yeast Rice

Claimed benefits: Lowers LDL ("bad") cholesterol, prevents heart disease

Risks: Kidney and muscle problems, liver problems, hair loss; can magnify effects of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, increasing the risk of side effects

 

Chaparral

Claimed benefits: Weight loss, reduces inflammation, treats colds, infections, skin rashes, cancer

Risks: Kidney problems, liver damage, possibly death

Head over to Consumer Reports for the full list of dangerous supplements, and share your thoughts on the findings below.

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