Five dietary supplements that can be hazardous to your health when overused
Experts say even ‘natural’ products can be dangerous when used in excess
What are the five popular dietary supplements that can be ineffective or hazardous to your health when overused?
An interview with health educators Carl & Jhoane Robinson, co-founders of Cedar Bear Naturales
The Bev Smith Show
Many of us, seeing the words “all natural” on a dietary supplement bottle, get the idea that the product inside must be non-toxic and safe to use in any amount or in any manner we chose.
That’s not the case.
“The truth is that, though not all, there are nevertheless some vitamins and herbs, even when labeled ‘organic’ or ‘natural’, that can be harmful to our bodies if consumed in excessive amounts, or simply are so denatured and rendered inert they don’t impart the benefits anticipated,” say health educators Carl and Jhoane (Joan) Robinson, long-time veterans of the natural dietary supplements industry.
Carl and Jhoane identify five popular dietary supplements which they say are most often overused and can produce serious side effects when taken individually at high amounts for prolonged periods without being balanced by other synergistic nutrients which enhance their safety and efficacy.
• Herbal Laxatives: Herbal laxatives are one of the most-purchased items in natural health food stores. Their ability to trigger defecation can be useful on occasion, but when used too frequently these herbs can flush needed electrolytes and vital nutrients out of the intestinal tract and stress the delicate pH balance of the body’s fluid systems. Habitual use can result in a mineral electrolyte imbalance and pushes the body towards a state of alkalosis, symptoms of which are confusion, hand tremors, light-headedness, muscle twitching, spasms, nausea, vomiting and numbness or tingling in the face, hands or feet.
• Vitamin C: Mega-dosing Vitamin C (5 to 10 grams) has become popular, but there are side effects. If consumed at high dosages for extended periods, Vitamin C can stress the kidneys and also can create problems for balancing blood sugar levels, as excess Vitamin C is converted to sugar by the liver, especially if the kidneys do not filter it fast enough from the body. Large doses of Vitamin C can also disrupt sleep patterns. Taking low maintenance-level daily doses (50mg to 150 mg) will result in a higher percentage of absorption, while causing less damage to kidneys and less liver stress over one’s lifetime. Don’t take mega-doses as a preventative measure or you can stress the body and throw it into crisis, mitigating the hoped-for preventative benefits.
• Vitamin A: Most people use the oil source of Vitamin A, but the body needs both forms of Vitamin A – the oil soluble and the water soluble. Most people consume too much of the oil form only and this can create a lot of stress for the liver.
• Calcium: Due to the high daily consumption of cereals, breads, granola and pasta, the average American diet contains many times the required daily amount of calcium. When the marketers of calcium supplements started a campaign informing us that we weren’t getting enough calcium in our diets, people began taking extra calcium. Five years ago reports were released suggesting that excess calcium consumption was a major contributing factor to hardening of the arteries and the heart, and that the presence of excess calcium in the blood contributes to kidney stone formation.
• Alcohol Tinctures: Alcohol possesses the property to denature and render inert many of the components and medicinal properties of an herbal extraction. Also, alcohol in the tincture can trigger alcoholic sensitivity responses in the user. For instance, former alcoholics cannot even smell the smell of an alcohol tincture. And if a child were born with a proclivity towards alcoholism (it can be genetic), it could trigger some harmful effects. Due to an anomaly in FDA rules, many so-called ‘alcohol-free’ herbal products, which were made with the alcohol being removed, do in fact contain up to five percent residual alcohol. The safest and most efficacious alcohol-free liquid herbal supplements are now made using glycerin as a base, entirely replacing the use of alcohol.
ABOUT CARL AND JHOANE ROBINSON
Carl and Jhoane (Joan) Robinson are health educators and co-founders of liquid supplement manufacturer Cedar Bear Naturales / Liquid Herbs.
A clinical and formulary herbalist and nutritional therapist with a Master of Herbology in herbal pharmacognosy and pharmacology, Carl has been an ‘insider’ to the herbal products industry for 30 years and was involved in passage of state legislation that in turn became the template for the Federal government’s Dietary Supplements Health Education Act of 1994 (1994 D.S.H.E.A.). He is also the author of numerous White Papers and published works and educational courses on herbs, nascent iodine and natural health.
Jhoane is a traditional herbalist, yoga instructor, meditation facilitator, organic gardener and the former lead writer for a nationally distributed herb journal and natural health newsletter. Being the daughter of an MD internist who co-founded the largest medical clinic in the northwest and having been inflicted with a disabling auto-immune condition at an early age, which she overcame utilizing natural holistic means, Jhoane has a unique perspective on healthcare. Her recovery is part of the legacy of Cedar Bear Naturales.