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:
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
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
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.